Books Worth Reading

In no particular order, they are: 

Zen and the Art of Archery, Eugen Herrigel, 1948. 
Written between the world wars by a visiting German philosophy professor in Japan, it’s a book that teaches a person how to ignore the objective of one’s actions, and concentrate on the process. 

The Gulag Archipelago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1970. 
The greatest piece of journalism ever written, Solzhenitsyn chronicles the Soviet Gulag system from 1918 through to 1956. Surprisingly fun to read, the events it describes are ghastly—yet it’s a book filled with humor, life and energy. 

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, 1880. 
The greatest novel ever written, Dostoyevsky captures all of life in one Big Book. If aliens from another planet ever read this book, they would understand all of human emotions: Love, hate, desire, envy, resentment, beauty, compassion—everything. It’s all here. Come and get it. 
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, 1943. 
The perfect work of art. Some casually condescend to this work by calling it a “children’s book”—but like all great art, it is so much more than a simple category can comprehend. What it means is impossible to say . . . yet it’s almost understandable. That’s why it’s perfect.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro, 1982— 

The greatest biography ever written, Robert Caro doesn’t merely recapitulate Johnson’s life: He uses that life to explain the source, nature and limits of American political power. This massive work is also a testament to Caro’s own astonishing will as a historian, and sheer artistry as a writer. The fourth and final volume—covering the best part, Johnson’s presidency—is expected in 2012.