Major Must-Read: A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
One of the most interesting adaptations from novel to film, A Clockwork Orange is written in a bizarre and linguistically unheard of style. Fantastic story that only emphasizes Kubrick’s brilliance in the transfer to film.
Take A Break: Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)
A fun read you will not want to put down, similarly with unusual style. For lovers of the famous Fincher adaptation and ending, you may appreciate a divergence in the literary finale (no spoilers, though!)
Major Must-Read: The Making of the Atom Bomb (Richard Rhodes)
Considered an authority of atomic history, Rhodes details the story of Los Alamos and the creation of the atom bomb.
Take A Break: Lucky Jim (Kingsley Amis)
One of the few socialite novels I’d recommend, Lucky Jim is a hilarious drunk in the 1950s trying to abide by social customs while simultaneously living his life as hedonistic as he can (not to mention the literary creds you’ll get for reading one of Britain’s most prominent modern authors).
Major Must-Read: Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela)
An (unsurprisingly) breathtaking account of the life of anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela, in his own words. From his years in the ANC to his time in prison, Mandela inspired millions and influenced civil rights movements around the globe.
Take A Break: Lysistrata (Aristophanes)
One of the great Greek comedies, Lysistrata tells the story of the women of Athens who are fed up on their husbands going to war, and decide to take action—by withholding sex.
Major Must-Read: The Language Instinct (Steven Pinker)
A fascinating read on humanity’s inherent capacity for language, and the forms that ends up taking globally.
Take A Break: The Thing Around Your Neck (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)
A beautiful series of short stories by Nigerian novelist Adichie, who’s gained fame for her gift in storytelling as one of the most prominent African authors today.
Major Must-Read: The Code Book (Simon Singh)
The history of cryptology, from the Egyptians to modern wars.
Take A Break: The Martian (Andy Weir)
The novel that sparked a major movie franchise, Weir’s The Martian tells a brilliant story while holding shockingly true to science and math.
Major Must-Read: Sapiens: a brief history of humankind (Yuval Noah Hurari)
A look at human history, from us as a species to us as civilizations, Hurari has gained prominence for this well renowned non-fiction.
Take A Break: Blind Eye (James Stewart)
A shocking non=fiction on a serial killer doctor who managed to pull off several murders from hospitals to firehouses, and the medical community who let get away with it.
Major Must-Read: Letters from the Underground (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
The bitter and fascinating essays from Russian existentialist Dostoyevsky as told from an isolated character that both attacks the western culture as well as the self. Absolute must-read.
Take A Break: Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett) ; Hot Water Music (Charles Bukowski)
I couldn’t pick between these two, so I recommend both. Waiting for Godot is both hilarious and confusing, in the typical style of Beckett, and alludes to a character whose self is never fully described (but heavilty implied). The second is a personal favorite of short stories by German-American post-Beat and Nihilist author, Charles Bukowski, who tells the awful and the hilarious as one of the same in this wild and (genuinely) laugh-out-loud book.
Major Must-Read: The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics was Reborn (Louisa Gilder)
An attempt at bringing Quantum Physics to the somewhat less elite masses, this book is both fascinating and confusing. Not for the faint of heart (or dull at math).
Take A Break: Cats Cradle (Kurt Vonnegut)
One of Vonnegut’s most brilliant stories, any physicist will love the story of Ice-9, and any satirist will love the rest of the story as well.