What Books Helped You Live Without Regret?
January 18, 2005 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I have been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's autobiography, "Living to Tell the Tale". In one passage he describes a bookcase full of books that one should read in order to live without regret. What are some of the books that have helped you live without regret?
posted by omphale27 to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Would you mind posting some of Marquez's recommendations?
posted by xmutex at 2:48 PM on January 18, 2005

Well, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance would have to be one. Narcissus and Goldmund would be another. I'd also have to include two videos/DVDs on my bookshelf, Magnolia and American Beauty.
posted by pwb503 at 2:59 PM on January 18, 2005

Franny and Zooey, definitely.
posted by magullo at 3:01 PM on January 18, 2005

Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes
posted by Heminator at 3:11 PM on January 18, 2005

Response by poster: Interestingly, he didn't list any in this particular passage, although in another section he named "Oedipus Rex" as the perfect work. Also, his friends sent him a box of books that helped him learn to write, and among these were, "Mrs. Dalloway" and "Orlando" by Virginia Woolfe, "Point Counter Point", Adulous Hucley, "Manhattan Transfer" by John Dos Passos, "Of Mice & Men" and "The Grapes of Wrath", "Portrait of Jenny" by Robert Nathan, and "Tobacco Road", by Erskine Cladwel among some others.
posted by omphale27 at 3:12 PM on January 18, 2005

Ulysses. Life just happens whether you made plans or not.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:14 PM on January 18, 2005

Life After God, Douglas Coupland. Also anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Tom Robbins, or Haruki Murakami. Also Neutral Milk Hotel.
posted by pikachulolita at 3:22 PM on January 18, 2005

Watership Down.

not sure why, but my head carries that book with me forever.
posted by auslander at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2005

Lonely Planet Guide to....(Cambodia, Mexico, etc.), Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies, anything by Cynthia Voigt as a teen, Marquez himself, and other spiny books that seem to follow me around.
posted by fionab at 3:43 PM on January 18, 2005

Hamlet, Swann's Way, Tristessa, everything I've read by Faulkner James Forster Wharton McCullers O'Connor. Truth and Method by Hans Georg Gadamer. Kant's writings on morals/ethics. Toni Morrison. Gerald Stern. Kafka's letters and notebooks and short stories. Emily Dickinson. Celine's two masterpieces. Racine's Phaedra. Cavafy Elytis Seferis Kazantzakis. Genet. Penn Warren. ditto on Cynthia Voigt as a teen. Vanzetti's speech to the court. Hurston's short stories. Kundera! Kleist. Narcissus and Goldmund by Hesse. Herder's notebooks. anything by Benjamin. Bakhtin. Elizabeth Smart's notebooks and novellas. Isaiah Berlin's essays. Berriault's fiction, especially her short fiction. Lolita of course. Mary Daly to remind me there's tons of good things about being female. Oscar and Lucinda. Akutagawa and Tanizaki. The Favourite Game by Cohen. Issa's poetry. Mishima. Szymborska. Nurkse. Equi. Cummings. Childhood and Society by Erik Eriksen. Beth Nugent. Tristan Tzara. Steig. Veblen and Goodman. the list goes on, thanks heavens.

Books will be there when no one else.
posted by ifjuly at 4:12 PM on January 18, 2005 [2 favorites]

I'll second "Life After God". Good book.
posted by pwb503 at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2005

(Not on topic, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez's son directs a slew of episodes of Carnivale)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:38 PM on January 18, 2005

I'll second Watership Down.
posted by gen at 5:09 PM on January 18, 2005

The Brothers Karamazov, As I Lay Dying, Life of Pi, The Moor's Last Sigh, Another Roadside Attraction, Mother Night, American Pastoral, Confederacy of Dunces, The Dharma Bums...
posted by MotorNeuron at 6:06 PM on January 18, 2005

Invisible cities-Italo Calvino
posted by dhruva at 6:10 PM on January 18, 2005

I first read Thoreau's Walden when I was 13 and it has shaped all the days since.

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor."
posted by LarryC at 6:11 PM on January 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner

Eugenie Grandet, Balzac

In Search of Lost Time, Proust

The Cairo Trilogy, Naguib Mahfouz

On War, Carl von Clausewitz

The City of Tomorrow, le Corbusier
posted by orange clock at 6:38 PM on January 18, 2005

Siddhartha -- by Hermann Hesse
posted by marsha56 at 7:12 PM on January 18, 2005

On the Road; Kerouack

Godel, Escher, Bach; Hofstadter

Ender's Game; Card
posted by Inkoate at 8:28 PM on January 18, 2005

Life A Users Manual - Georges Perec
posted by ninthart at 2:05 AM on January 19, 2005

For sheer unremorseful effulgence, Whitman & Company: Stevens, WC Williams, Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, etc. Europe is too old and has too much to regret. The condition of "newness" is most vital in the American poetry world.

Oh, and Blake!
posted by ori at 2:56 AM on January 19, 2005

The trial-Franz Kafka & Catch 22-Joseph Heller, both taught me that so much in life is out of your control. Why regret what you can't control?

Gravity's rainbow-Thomas Pynchon, because I didn't finish it the first time and if I hadn't ever then I would have regretted it horribly.
posted by isthisthingon at 3:56 AM on January 19, 2005

Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
posted by purtek at 8:19 AM on January 19, 2005

In Search of Lost Time
Gravity's Rainbow
As I Lay Dying
Madame Bovary
All Kafka
Pride and Prejudice
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Mrs. Dalloway
The Life and Times of Michael K.-Coetzee (read after the Kafka)

Harvest by Jean Giono

All except the last are classics. The last is great but just has special significance to me, I mean, I would recommend it highly but I'm not sure other people would regret not having read it.
posted by OmieWise at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2005

1. My big red Complete Works of Plato
2. Homer, Odyssey
3. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Meditations

Those three books. That's all I need.
posted by koeselitz at 10:33 AM on January 19, 2005

"The Outsiders" by Colin Wilson
posted by Pressed Rat at 2:34 PM on January 19, 2005

This is kinda turning into "list some books and things that changed your life" ... but in terms of regret specifically and perspective toward life more generally, I have two recommendations:

Notes To Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person
Feeling Good

I second the two films mentioned and raise you Almost Famous. As Ebert said in his review "I wanted to hug this movie"
posted by softlord at 6:55 AM on January 20, 2005

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