Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. I found it bleak, honestly–a story about people with what seems like nothing more to live for than the next drink. I could be completely off base with this, but I’m reminded of Deirdre McCloskey’s description of the characters in La Boheme. Audiobook: if you don’t have Audible, you can take it for a spin here.
Dante, The Divine Comedy. I haven’t read this since high school. It’s still gripping and horrifying in its imagery of people who have separated themselves from God. I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. The people Dante shows in the inferno are those to whom the Lord says “thy will be done.”
Randall Munroe, What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. XKCD is, I think, the greatest comic ever (it has even eclipsed, in my mind, Bloom County), and What If? is one of the comic’s best features. Any book titled What If? and featuring a cover image of a tyrannosaurus rex being lowered into a Sarlacc pit is bound to entertain. Here’s a TED Talk by the author.
Zach and Kelly Weinersmith, Soonish. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is almost as good as XKCD. And I’ll admit I haven’t yet read this as of this writing but it’s on the shelf. I got it in part because of questions Jacob (our nine-year-old) asks about feasible future technologies. If I’m going to have answers on hand, this seems like a pretty good place to start.
Matthew Inman, Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants. While we’re on the subject and while I’m breaking a few of my own rules about what I include in these lists, here’s one by another creator of a favorite webcomic. Parts of it are a little NSFW and I read it a few years ago, but in the interests of completeness, I figured I should include it. Inman is the creator of one of my favorite characters, The Blerch. I dressed as the Blerch when I ran the Regions Superhero 5k in 2014.