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Ray, do you have any books that you found to be invaluable?

From: Raymond E. Feist
Date: 26 July 1999


Tough one to answer quickly.  Let me ponder . . .

OK, so here's some suggestions (he said after having run some errands).

Shakespeare.  Read as much as possible (but even I don't recommend bothering with Coriolanus and Timons of Athens).  But you should read: Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, McBeth, Othello, Henry IV (I& II), Henry V, Richard III, Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Tempest.

The Bible.  At least once through (skip the "begats" if you feel like it), even if you don't study every page.  It's the foundation of most of Western Culture and a huge part of the foundation of Islam.

At least one book on Comparative Religion.  Maybe more, but have some idea how the rest of the world thinks and believes.

Some good history books, because you can't figure out why things are the way they are today if you don't know how they were yesterday.  If you don't realize that the US is the way it is because of the Revolution and the Civil War, then you need to read US history.  Read Will and Ariel Durant's series if you can, and Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking People.  I also loved Thomas B. Costains history of the Plantagenant Kings.

I have on my shelf "How Things Work" volumes 1-4.  The Macmillian Visual Dictionary.  "What's What," is another good visual dictionary.

A GOOD dictionary (I have both the OED and Webster's 3rd Unabridged).

The following books are recommended simply because each is a class in "how to write well." Huckleberry Finn, Moby Dick, To Kill A Mocking Bird, Les Miserables, War and Peace, Shogun (the best 1st contact novel ever written), Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Hawaii (Mitchner's best), Flint (by Louis L'Amore, because it's a clinic in plot), Frankenstein (because it's a prodigious undertaking with stunning results), Dracula (a clinic in mood setting), On The Road (for capturing a time), just about everything by Steinbeck--especially Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, The Yearling (how a "YA" book should be written), the Little House books to show that even a terrible writer like Laura Ingles Wilder can tell a compelling story, the early books of Donald Westlake, anything by John D. McDonald, and a couple of hundred others.

Plus a good supply of "how to," books, history books, books on political science (I especially recommend Graham Allyson's Essence of Decision on the Cuban Missle Crisis to see how Governments "might" work), some basic economy texts, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and any other -ology you can think of.

That's the short list. <g>

Best, R.E.F.

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