Mind-blowing literature
August 11, 2009 4:58 PM   Subscribe

I like mind-blowing books. Please give me your best suggestions.

I want to read books that will leave my jaw on the floor because their ideas are so huge and/or counter-intuitive. But I'd also like them to have a certain "punchiness" to them, the exact nature of which is hard to describe.

As an example, I recently re-read Daniel Quinn's Ishmael; it's a perfect example of what I'm looking for. God's Debris is another great one.

Examples of books I'm not looking for include: Guns, Germs, and Steel (less exciting than Ishmael, doesn't have that oomph), The Selfish Gene (same), and 1984 (good, but didn't leave my jaw on the floor).
posted by aheckler to Media & Arts (74 answers total) 227 users marked this as a favorite
Neal Stephenson's latest book "Anathem" qualifies in my opinion. Just having read it left me a smarter person than when I started. That a person/author can imagine up such a world as in Anathem is just, wow.
posted by vito90 at 5:01 PM on August 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

Many of the short stories of John Varley and James Tiptree, Jr. do that for me.
posted by infinitywaltz at 5:06 PM on August 11, 2009

I'm reading "The Parallax View" by Slavoj Zizek. Like the Bearded One in general, it's pretty mind blowing.
posted by PunkSoTawny at 5:10 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

The Collected Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges. Amazing fun stuff. Don't know if they will blow everyone's mind, but they blew mine.
posted by LucretiusJones at 5:14 PM on August 11, 2009 [8 favorites]

The Dice Man
posted by nitsuj at 5:14 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and just in awe of every page. I don't know about counterintuitive, but his writing style, the story, the setting all seem to me to be pretty cool.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:20 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Jorge Luis Borges, his entire body of work; Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian; Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; John Steinbeck, East of Eden; T.S. Eliot, "The Waste Land;" Edward Dorn, Gunslinger; and Gene Wolfe, The Book of the New Sun.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:24 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

2nding Borges.
posted by oh really at 5:26 PM on August 11, 2009

Subjective, but:
Ursula K. Le Guin's "The Birthday Of The World"
Ted Chiang's "Stories Of Your Life"
Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle"
posted by DarkForest at 5:27 PM on August 11, 2009

posted by johngoren at 5:29 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

A pretty tall order... I would recommend Vernor Vinge's Across Realtime. It's two short novels in one - the second one, Marooned in Realtime, really does it for me in terms of the "wow" factor.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 5:30 PM on August 11, 2009

You might try The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Rather macabre, but fascinating and truly bizarre.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:33 PM on August 11, 2009

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell has a nice buildup to an incredible, arguably mindblowing middle section.
posted by oinopaponton at 5:33 PM on August 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
posted by just_ducky at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2009

Going out on a ledge here:

Sophie's World is written pretty differently. It's a little simplistic in parts, but it's a nice novel-form overview of philosophy with a twist at the end.

The Poisonwood Bible is a nice read about a missionary family in the Congo in the 50s, with a domineering preacher-father. The story is told through the eyes of his wife, Orleanna, and his four daughters and has some great themes on imperialism, religious belief, and family dynamics.

I'm obligated to recommend Atlas Shrugged, which kept me up many a night when I was fourteen, as I raced to figure out who the hell was John Galt. (It also sent me into a raging Objectivist phase for a year.)

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed Wizard of the Crow, and I'm still scratching my head figuring out what was going on. If you like Rushdie, you'll like this. It's a magical-realist book about a fictious African state, with a simple guy on the run who sets up some bones and scary-voodoo stuff up on a doorway so a policeman won't enter becoming the nation's spiritual leader, the Wizard of the Crow, and the power struggles of a dictator whose body keeps growing with his greed, larger and larger.

On a Rushdie note, I like Midnight's Children for a good perspective on post-colonial India. (The Satanic Verses, for which he was sent into hiding, is a very good book if you can figure out what the heck it's about--it requires a pretty good knowledge of Islam to appreciate fully, I think. Shalimar the Clown is great, but I wouldn't say it's "mind blowing", and I wasn't all too impressed with The Enchantress of Florence.)

On a fantasy level, I was completely BLOWN AWAY by Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which is about magic during the Napoleonic Wars. It was one of those books I put down and stayed with me for weeks.
posted by Dukat at 5:40 PM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Some SF suggestions:

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by Samuel Delany. (Most of his books would qualify.)
The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.
The Culture novels from Iain M. Banks.
The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester.
The Xenogenesis/Lilith's Brood or Parable trilogy from Octavia Butler.
Just about any novel from Philip K. Dick.
posted by gerryblog at 5:44 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'll second Cloud Atlas.
posted by sad_otter at 5:46 PM on August 11, 2009

nthing Philip K Dick

Childhood's End by Clarke really wowed me.

Flannery O Connor is superb stuff. All of it.
posted by ian1977 at 5:47 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson and Anathem by Neil Stephenson.

The Dune Sextology by Frank Herbert is the one I keep coming back to for "Dude, you just blew my mind...." reading. Avoid the Brian Herbert/Kevin J. Anderson Dune books at all costs.
posted by fatbird at 5:47 PM on August 11, 2009

Though I'd skip the Wikipedia link (to Cloud Atlas) as it gives away too much...
posted by sad_otter at 5:48 PM on August 11, 2009

Umberto Eco - Foucault's Pendulum
posted by PenDevil at 5:50 PM on August 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

To me, it's no contest: Ulysses. (Read it the first time with annotations -- either Blamires's The New Bloomsday Book or Gifford's Ulysses Annotated.)
posted by scody at 5:51 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

anything written by Italo Calvino, with special emphasis on Invisible Cities, Cosmicomics and If On A Winter's Night A Traveller.

The Raw Shark Texts - if you're not completely blown out by this book, there's no help for you.

anything by Jeff Noon, especially Vurt.

Engine Summer and Little, Big by John Crowley.

Against The Day, by Thomas Pynchon.

White Noise, by Don Delillo.

All The Myriad Ways, by Larry Niven (short story)

Ringworld, by Larry Niven (the Puppeteers alone will do it for you, trust me.)

anything written by Tim Powers.

Now go - you can thank me later. (and you will...)
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:59 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Blow your mind? The Moral Animal. Let's you really see how much of the third branch of the chimp family we really are.
posted by John of Michigan at 6:00 PM on August 11, 2009

Response by poster: Some of these sound pretty good at first glance, some not so much. After seeing everyone's suggestions, perhaps I can try to narrow this down...

The kind of book I want is one that destroys an old way of looking at the world and inserts a shockingly new paradigm in its place. It can do this outright (a la God's Debris) or perhaps with more subtlety (Ayn Rand).

Thus, books like 1984, Lolita, and We Need To Talk About Kevin didn't fundamentally alter the way I looked at the world in the way that I'm looking for.

It probably would have been better to actually put this it the question, but this is hard to articulate.
posted by aheckler at 6:01 PM on August 11, 2009

After your clarification, if you have any interest in the way history and conceptions of history are made, then I doubly recommend Cloud Atlas.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:04 PM on August 11, 2009

All my suggestions just went out the window when you added "more subtlety (Ayn Rand)."

Now I'm just confused.
posted by rokusan at 6:07 PM on August 11, 2009 [22 favorites]

Very much out of left field in comparison to the above recommendations maybe, but Salar The Salmon by Henry Williamson is an overlooked classic in many ways.

Mind-blowing if you happen to be in the mood for it.
posted by metagnathous at 6:09 PM on August 11, 2009

The most recent book to have this effect on me was River of Gods, by Ian McDonald. If reading Count Zero and Snowcrash was like receiving a shotgun blast of ideas to the brain, River of Gods is a meme-cannon on full auto. McDonald is excellent at projecting a future (India in 30 years time, in this case) in which a non-Western culture remains both traditional, advanced, and alien. A further partitioned India suffering climate change; reality television that is entirely artificial, including the actors, and more besides; a surgically constructed third sex with re-wired hormones; AI's substantiated as Hindu gods; upper-caste Brahmins extending their lives through slow-growth technologies. It's glorious and wonderful and strange.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 6:10 PM on August 11, 2009

Towing Jehovah by James Morrow. God dies and his 2 mile long corpse drops into the ocean. The main character, a disgraced oil tanker captain, is hired to tow his body to the Arctic Circle in order to preserve the remains.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sorry, messed up that second link. Here's another.
posted by metagnathous at 6:16 PM on August 11, 2009

Response by poster: All my suggestions just went out the window when you added "more subtlety (Ayn Rand)."

"More subtlety" as in the plot of her book is of just as much importance as the philosophy, whereas in God's Debris the plot is almost vestigial when compared to the ideas. Hope that clears things up a bit.
posted by aheckler at 6:17 PM on August 11, 2009

Swan Song by Robert McCammon and The Road by McCarthy.
posted by ~Sushma~ at 6:18 PM on August 11, 2009

I had Einstein's Dreams blow my mind a couple of times, and then alter how the perception of time affects my attitude towards life. It's a pretty quick read too, so you don't necessarily have to invest a lot of energy into it.
posted by dogwalker at 6:24 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

as mentioned above, Ulysses - first and foremost

then, roughly, a list of the first books I can remember that are 'altering' or in some way or another:

Against the Day or Gravity's Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
Dahlgren – Samuel R. Delaney
The Man Who Was Thursday – GK Chesterton
Confessions of Zeno / Zeno's Conscience – Italo Svevo
Threepenny Opera - Bertoldt Brect
Under the Volcano – Malcolm Lowry
Narcissus and Goldmund – Herman Hesse
Cairo Trilogy – Mahfouz
Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban
Winesburg, Ohio – Sherwood Anderson
Buddenbrooks – Thomas Mann
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Martin Dressler – Tale of an American Dreamer – Stephen Millhauser
Edwin Mullhouse – Stephen Millhauser
Le Grand Meaulnes – Henri Alain-Fournier
Omensetter's Luck – William Gass
Sometimes a Great Notion – Ken Kesey
Carlos Fuentes – Terra Nostra
Painted Veil – Somerset Maugham
Of Human Bondage – Somerset Maugham
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Berlin Stories – Christopher Isherwood
Diaries – Christopher Isherwood
Farewell, My Lovely / Lady in the Lake / The High Window – Raymond Chandler
Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Leguin
Rabbit, Run – lil John Updike
History of Danish Dreams – Peter Høeg
Dreams of My Russian Summers - Andreï Makine
Perdido St. Station – China Mieville
Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Geek Love – Katherine Dunn
I Served the King of England - Bohumil Hrabal
Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
The Solitudes – John Crowley
Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
posted by mr. remy at 6:25 PM on August 11, 2009 [15 favorites]

'Basin and Range' by John McPhee.

What you didn't know about the rocks you are standing on will blow your mind.
posted by Darth Fedor at 6:25 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, by George Saunders. Short stories, but it qualifies.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:28 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and 'Siddhartha' by Herman Hesse.

Similar in scope to 'Ishmael,' only with good writing, stronger impact, and no talking monkeys.
posted by Darth Fedor at 6:29 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dangerous Laughter by Steven Millhauser was the first book I read on my Kindle, and it truly blew me away. He takes concepts of size and scale, reality and unreality, and stirs things up in a fascinatingly unique way. Brilliant writer!
posted by newfers at 6:33 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cory Doctorow's Little Brother
posted by legotech at 6:52 PM on August 11, 2009

If you want your mind blown, read the Bhagavad Gita. Really, that's as blown as it gets.
posted by bricoleur at 7:09 PM on August 11, 2009

Godel, Escher , Bach by Douglas Hofstadter will change the way you think about thinking. It's got history, art, puzzles, math (without numbers) and can be read on many levels (which is kinda the whole point of the book).

MIT Open Courseware has a series of video lectures on the book.

And it's made many appearances here on the green.
posted by MCTDavid at 7:20 PM on August 11, 2009 [7 favorites]

Oh, I forgot the book of Ecclesiastes, the book that most influenced my atheism.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Similar question was asked couple of weeks ago.
posted by zadcat at 7:38 PM on August 11, 2009

The Khazar Dictionary, by Milorad Pavic. One of the most beautiful- and strangest- works of every-word-is-ineffably-true fiction I have ever had the good fortune to spend time with. I read little snippets of it every other day, and it never fails to leave me teary eyed with wonder.
posted by Philby at 7:38 PM on August 11, 2009

Ditto: John Varley. The Titan Trilogy. Best Sci-Fi trilogy ever. Jaw dropping imagination. Planet Gaia: In the immortal words of Tina Fey, "I want to go to there".
posted by Pennyblack at 7:40 PM on August 11, 2009

The Memory Of Fire trilogy by Eduardo Galeano. It's a three-volume history of the Americas, spanning from pre-columbian myths up to 1984 (that's when he wrote it), and is told entirely in a series of two- and three-paragraph vignettes, covering everything from big events to slices of life to pop culture. One two-page spread jumps from a silver mine in Peru to Mark Twain writing Connecticut Yankee to Wounded Knee.

The fact that it's a history of the Americas by a writer from Uruguay is already one step removed from the typical North American Perspective of history; the fact that it's in tiny snapshot vignettes is another step. Then also add in the fact that Galeano uses the "magic realism" style and you have a fascinating ride.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 PM on August 11, 2009

Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, marvin harris
posted by macinchik at 8:15 PM on August 11, 2009

Blindness by Jose Saramago. I'm not sure about mind altering but it's a pretty intense read I think.
posted by abitha! at 8:38 PM on August 11, 2009

The only recc so far I'd agree with (semi) is the Mars trilogy by KSR.

"Being and Time" by Heidegger
Foucault, especially "Madness and Civilization" and "Discipline and Punish"

Also this might seem cheesy, but Feynman's "QED" for that jesus-no-really moment that hasn't come since 6th grade algebra.
posted by shownomercy at 8:55 PM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude.' I finished reading it, said "WHAT" out loud, and immediately began reading it again.
posted by cosmic osmo at 9:17 PM on August 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I too was thrown by the Ayn Rand comment. Perhaps you need to dive deep into the weird and wonderful and "subjective" worldview of Robert Anton Wilson.

Cosmic Trigger if you're into so-called non-fiction.
Shrodinger's Cat if you like sci-fi.
The Earth Will Shake if you like historical fiction (and you didn't think the Da Vinci code was laugh out loud funny).
posted by philip-random at 9:18 PM on August 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

So happy to see someone else put Somerset Maugham on the list!

The Razor's Edge, Somerset Maugham

It's about a guy who decides to travel around, be poor and read alot, much to the chagrin of his well-off and educated friends, and fiance. Sounds so cliche, but the book was published in ´43. It may not be so much mind-blowing as mind-opening - but for sure, the prose is exquisite.

from wikipedia:

The Razor’s Edge is a book by W. Somerset Maugham published in 1944. Its epigraph reads, "The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard." —Katha-Upanishad.

The story begins through the eyes of Larry’s friends and acquaintances as they witness his personality change after the War. His rejection of conventional life and search for meaningful experience allows him to thrive while the more materialistic characters suffer reversals of fortune.

posted by Locochona at 9:28 PM on August 11, 2009

I may be out of line here considering the mammoth of literature listed here but let me throw in my $.02 and humbly offer:

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

I enjoy a mind-blow with a hearty laugh and/or altering of my perspective and twisted known observations about existance/reality when I read. Perhaps I think, in the face of the above, my tastes run a bit more picked up by the populous, but I contend that they're all though-provokers with real brain explosions on each page - not to mention having a few hardy laughs.
posted by eatdonuts at 9:34 PM on August 11, 2009

I think Mark Buchanan's Ubiquity fits the bill perfectly. (When I started reading your question, I was first going to suggest Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

I was recommended it by my history teacher -- applying the ideas to history/historiography was nothing short of paradigm-changing for me. It's basically a clear, plain English introduction to chaos and complexity theory (so if you're already familiar with those ideas it might not be so paradigm-changing for you).

A common complaint from people I have recommended it to is that it's repetitive -- though I didn't think so when I first read it.

I'll second Zizek too I think.
posted by carnival of animals at 9:36 PM on August 11, 2009

Surprised Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance hasn't been mentioned yet, by an author who had his own mind blown (by ECT). But I would actually suggest his less read follow-up book Lila for greater degree of mind-blow.

And Ulysses has already been recommended twice but I would suggest Joyce's less read masterpiece Finnegans Wake. Read it aloud (the only way it is readable). Prepare to have moments where your mind does back-flips on the riffles of language play.
posted by Sitegeist at 9:57 PM on August 11, 2009

From personal experience:

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.
posted by Funky Claude at 10:11 PM on August 11, 2009




should fill your requirement for being counter-intuitive eye-openers.

Miracle in the Andes was like a pure rush of adrenaline, and might possibly be a life-changing book.
posted by thisperon at 12:30 AM on August 12, 2009

A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari changed my life in significant and measurable ways.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:34 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Anathem. Amazing stuff.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:48 AM on August 12, 2009

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach I think is more likely to fit the bill than most of the stuff above. It is different in the way Atlas Shrugged is different from PK dick stories: It it written mainly to get the reader to think about things in a way they may have never thought about before, as opposed to being first and foremost a vehicle of entertainment with weird ideas that make it interesting.
Its also short and easy to read.
posted by Osmanthus at 6:36 AM on August 12, 2009

The Road.

You will come to value your shoes. Seriously.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:53 AM on August 12, 2009

I haven't read any of the books you provide as examples, so sorry if these are off base, but for sorta out there but intriguing ideas:

Ray Kurzweil - The Age of Spiritual Machines
Julian Jaynes - The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
David Bohm - Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Schopenhauer - World as Will and Representation
Charles Tart - Altered States of Consciousness

That's a bit of a random list, just what comes to mind at the moment...
posted by mdn at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2009

"Predictably Irrational" is about bugs in the human brain. It has fundamentally changed the way I think about economics and morality. Here's are a couple of talks by the author.

"You Just Don't Understand" overturned the way I think about gender and communication.

"Games People Play" changed the way I think about psychology. In my opinion, it presents a toy model of human psychology. It is like the Newtonian Physics (as opposed to the Einsteinian Physics) of pyschology. Its worth and downside is its simplicity. It's great for fiction writers, actors, etc.

"Summerhill" and "How Children Fail" forever changed the way I think about eduction.

"The Practical Handbook for the Actor" and "Working on the Play and the Role" gave me some paradigm shifts in my thoughts about the craft of acting. I also think these are great books for fiction writers and dramatists.

"The Little Schemer" (a poetically-beautiful computer book, if such a thing can be said to exist), "Clean Code," "Code Complete" and "Refactoring" taught me everything I didn't know about computer programming.
posted by grumblebee at 10:06 AM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The sci fi novel PDU1 didn't blow my mind, but threw me for a loop.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:32 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know it's probably quite cliché and unsophisticated, but Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace is still the most mind altering/blowing book I've ever read. The denseness and inventiveness of his prose effected me greatly. I know I am constantly aping his style whenever I write. Also, the 200+ pages of footnotes are as good/better than most full novels.

Also, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson was a revelation to me. It showed me that a book could be nearly as complicated and dense as Jest, but also wildly entertaining page turner.
posted by lattiboy at 5:24 PM on August 12, 2009

Oh! And you cannot forget James Ellroy's "American Underworld" Trilogy (last book coming out this year!)

The a most original and captivating writing style combined with mind-blowing historical fiction. All character development should be judged by the amazing arc of Pete Bondurant in Ellroy's books.

I cannot possibly recommend these books enough.
posted by lattiboy at 5:36 PM on August 12, 2009

The Master and Margarita.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:48 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight is the book I recommend to those who I know are going to have trouble with the gorilla in Ishmael - - it covers a lot of the same ground in a bit more pragmatic manner...
posted by fairmettle at 2:58 PM on August 13, 2009

Try J.G. Ballard. Lots of recommendations in this obit thread.
posted by benzenedream at 1:40 AM on August 14, 2009

Oh my god, if you liked the way Ishmael turned your worldview upside-down, you've got to read The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen. Same anti-civilization vein and waaay more intense than Quinn.

There's also The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Talk about a radical book...
posted by strangechord at 12:08 AM on August 15, 2009

The kind of book I want is one that destroys an old way of looking at the world and inserts a shockingly new paradigm in its place.

What is the What by David Eggers did exactly this for me. I had this way of looking at the world being my oyster, I was jetting around it making 6 figures and having a ball and all of a sudden reading this book settled the fact in my soul that there are children who are fleeing scorched earth and starving to death and being eaten alive by wild animals in the same world where I have my pizza and jack and coke to sleep every night.

Fuck that. It put me on a path of more books and movies and speakers and organizations and whatnot that all dealt with this reality, and pretty soon I found myself moving to Africa to do humanitarian work full time. Right now I'm in Haiti doing the same. This morning on the way to work I drove past thousands of people on the street who live on less a day than my big cold bottle of water costs.

I'm sure that book won't do the same thing for everyone, but it jolted my life pretty completely.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:28 AM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm late to this party I know, but in case the op is still checking, here are a few:

- Christopher Priest, Inverted World
- Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End
- nearly every Jorge Luis Borges story I have ever read
- Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
- Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerberus
- Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49
- David Foster Wallace, Girl with Curious Hair (short stories)
- Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves (particularly the Navidson sections)
posted by aught at 6:09 PM on August 27, 2009

Also late, but seconding Ecclesiastes. This is my favorite text and it made me realize the "modern condition" in many ways is as old as man.
posted by Falconetti at 7:07 PM on August 31, 2009

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