The same logic (lack of logic) used to order the previous section (Spiritual and/or New Age Books) will also be used here.  This is where you will find social/political/economic/historical/psychological/literary and other works.  - Bon Voyage!  (Note:  Some items are individually linked to amazon.com.  To purchase, or further consider, any item which is NOT directly linked to its page on amazon.com, please use the all-purpose amazon.com link located at the bottom of this page, which will take you to amazon.com's home page and search engine.)


Original Entries  

Additional Entries


Original Entries


The Message of Rainsnow: A Spiritual and Cultural Vision For Beginning To Save The Earth , by J Rainsnow.  Yes, this one is by me.  It deals with many of the dangers confronting our modern-day world - dangers ranging from terrorism and war, to ecological destruction, and the loss of personal freedom - and seeks to create a coherent and workable vision for transforming the the nature of our civilization, so that we are able to survive with dignity and meaning.  More on my book may be found on this web site (The Rainsnow Books), and at amazon.com. 

The Last Hours Of Ancient Sunlight:  Waking Up To Personal And Global Transformation, by Thom Hartmann.  This book describes some of the threats which imperil our collective future, and argues for the need to look back to the past in order to rediscover ways of creating a  sustainable culture, able to exist in harmony with our planet and its resources. 

Communities Directory:  A Guide to Intentional Communities And Cooperative Living, the Fellowship for Intentional Community.  This is a very valuable resource for anyone interested in the concept of "intentional communities", formerly known as "communes":  groups of people who have made the commitment to live together in a more cooperative way, emphasizing social solidarity, community, and an extended experience of meaningful personal relationships.  This directory offers articles, resources, and most of all, listings of intentional communities, with brief descriptions of each one, and contact information.  Although the goals, methods, and characteristics of the communities vary widely, this directory helps to guide interested individuals towards the communities which could be right for them.  Of course, this book is only a starting point.

Artists' Communities:  A Directory Of Residences In The United States That Offer Time And Space For Creativity, edited by Tricia Snell.  The title says it all.  Many times, artists - be they visual artists, composers, performers, or writers - find it hard to create space for their creation, in the midst of this demanding, material society, which often seems like a relentless treadmill which never slows down or gives anyone the chance to get off, even for the purpose of doing the one thing that, for them, makes life worthwhile.  This valuable book provides a listing of artists' sanctuaries and potential resources for support.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown.  This is the classic history of the struggle of Native Americans of the "American West" to preserve their lands and life ways in the 1800s, in the face of the overpowering force of the advancing "white man."  It is a moving tale, filled with a subtle passion and laced with the eloquence of Native American speakers, whose energy can still reach you through these pages.  Here, you will meet Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, "Roman Nose", Little Wolf, Dull Knife (Morning Star), Chief Joseph, Cochise, "Mangas Coloradas", Geronimo, Victorio, and many others.  Most of all, you will meet the proud, deep soul of the Native American, and begin to understand the terrible moral cost behind the building of this nation.

A Sorrow In Our Heart:  The Life Of Tecumseh, by Allan W. Eckert.  This sizable book is amazing for the research and detail that went into its making.  Yet it reads like an adventure story.  It succeeds, very admirably, in capturing the power and greatness of Tecumseh, a brilliant orator, warrior, and visionary who, for a time, united many different Native American tribes into a cohesive force determined to turn back the tide of American settlers and troops which was overrunning their lands.  Though dramas of a far-vaster scale have played out in the course of world history, none overshadows this one in its ability to move the heart, or in the greatness of its protagonist.

The Lance And The Shield:  The Life And Times Of Sitting Bull, by Robert Utley.  An excellent biography of the great Hunkpapa Lakota chief, best known for his role in defeating General Custer in the Battle of the Little Big Horn.  The great heart, courage, strength, and spirit power of Sitting Bull come through in this biography.  Sitting Bull emerges, here, as a complex, deep man, dedicated to the preservation of his people and their traditions.  Though he "lost" his fight, in his own times, he is one of those rare figures in history whose ability to inspire others has survived his physical death.  After finishing this book, you may be surprised to feel Sitting Bull's presence very near!

Black Elk Speaks!  See the previous section, on New Age/Spiritual books.

Lame Deer, Seeker Of Visions.  See the previous section, on New Age/Spiritual books.

The Mystic Warriors Of The Plains, by Thomas E. Mails.  This book has received some criticism, at times, but it remains an outstanding resource on many aspects of the culture of the Native Americans of the American West.  It overflows with both color and black-and-white illustrations of Native Americans, their gear, their clothing, their dances, etc.  Dee Brown, the author of Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, has said of it:  "A comprehensive encyclopedia of plains lore, a reference work to be consulted time and again throughout one's lifetime."

In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen.  This book, in enormous detail, describes the clash, during the 1970s, between AIM (The American Indian Movement), and elements of the US government and their local allies, who sought to crush AIM, by force.  (They viewed AIM as a dangerous radical organization, in the nature of the Black Panthers or Weather Underground, and feared that its crusade to improve the political and economic condition of Native Americans in America, could lead to instability, and lost control over valuable resources.)  Matthiessen convincingly describes the veritable reign of terror that was directed against AIM-supporters on the Pine Ridge Reservation during those years; and the violent events which led to the trial, and what many consider to be the wrongful conviction, for murder, of Leonard Peltier, the celebrated Native American activist, who remains in prison to this day.

Prison Writings Of Leonard Peltier:  My Life Is My Sundance, by Leonard Peltier.  This is a book of the reflections and thoughts of Leonard Peltier, the imprisoned Native American activist who many believe was framed for a murder he did not commit.

Abraham Lincoln:  The Prairie Years And The War Years (1 Volume Edition), by Carl Sandburg.  This may not be the most objective or scholarly biography of Lincoln ever written, but it is a masterpiece of American folk literature, colorful and moving.  It seems to capture the spark of Lincoln's soul, and to help preserve the memory of one of America's greatest leaders - a brilliant, humor-filled, sincere, deep-feeling, and compassionate man, trapped in a role of leadership during one of the most awful moments of the nation's history.  Many since have tried to imitate him, but to my mind, he continues to stand alone.

Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World, by Louis Fischer.  An excellent introduction to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, the "liberator of India."  His example of compassionate and peaceful, yet courageous and unrelenting, forms of struggle, remains a powerful resource for all seekers of justice to draw upon.

Long Walk To Freedom:  The Autobiography Of Nelson Mandela, by (who else?!) Nelson Mandela.  The autobiography of the heroic fighter against apartheid in South Africa, who survived years in prison without surrendering the dream of leading his people to freedom.  The hardships South Africa is undergoing today in no way undermine the legacy of this great leader, who played a pivotal role in one of the great struggles of the 20th Century.

The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson.  This "autobiography" consists of various writings by Martin Luther King, Jr., organized and melded together by editor Clayborne Carson.  It has been well-received as an effective presentation of the energy, dreams, and struggles of this most famous of American civil rights leaders, who never lost the moral high ground in his battle to achieve equality, justice, and dignity for African-Americans in a society, and at a time, marred by acute racism and abuse.

The Autobiography Of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley.  The classic autobiography of Malcolm X.  Uplifted by years of soul-searching in prison, and by his encounter with Islam, he rose above a criminal past to become a world-renowned crusader for the rights of African-Americans.

Down These Mean Streets, by Piri Thomas.  This is the autobiography of a Puerto Rican who turned to a life of crime on the streets of New York City.  It is a story of his dreams and wounds and mistakes, written in literary street-talk, by which I mean a language born from street language, yet driven, by its passion and its need, to find a level of expression capable of deeply moving anyone in possession of a heart, who reads it.  It is the chronicle of the clash of  a sensitive, easily-hurt, and secretly precious soul, with a society that had no room or use for it, no compassion to welcome it, and no eyes to see it.  Ultimately, it is a story of survival and perseverance, and a warning to our nation, of the great potential that is being squandered every day on our "mean streets."  Today, Piri Thomas is a world-renowned writer and respected activist, dedicated to helping young people find themselves, and avoid the terrible hardships that swallowed up years of his life.

The Fight In The Fields:  Cesar Chavez And The Farmworkers Movement, by Susan Ferriss, Ricardo Sandoval, and Diana Hembree.  Cesar Chavez, the famed Mexican-American activist who fought for the rights of farmworkers in the US, is one more outstanding example of an effective and compassionate leader committed to the principle of nonviolent activism.  In this way, he may be said to have been made of the same mold as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   This book is not only a biography of Chavez, but a chronicle of the farmworkers movement as a whole.

The Burning Season:  The Murder Of Chico Mendes And the Fight For The Amazon Rain Forest, by Andrew Revkin.  Chico Mendes, a rubber-tapper in the Brazilian Amazon, won fame as an activist and organizer committed to preserving the rain forest and the livelihood of traditional forest workers who depended on it, in the face of increasing deforestation, which was, in large part, generated by the expansion of cattle ranching into the Amazon.  Outsiders, in the international community, saw in Chico Mendes' movement hope for defending the forest "from the inside", but this dream received a cruel setback when Chico was murdered by his opponents.  The story of Chico, who some consider to be an  "ecological martyr", provides us not only with the tale of a heroic man, but also with a tale of Man and Nature, the overriding lesson of which is the need to bring our values back into balance with the world that supports us.

The Legacy Of Luna:  The Story Of A Tree, A Woman, And The Struggle To Save The Redwoods, by Julia Butterfly Hill.  This is Julia's account of her valiant struggle to save a giant redwood tree in California from being cut down by a lumber company.  Environmentalists were distressed by what they considered to be irresponsible levels of deforestation in America's Pacific states, carried out without appropriate foresight or respect for nature; and the incursion into areas populated by ancient and beautiful redwood trees was particularly disturbing.  To save one tree ("Luna"), and make a stand, Julia climbed up into its branches before it could be cut down, and lived there, as a kind of human shield, for over two years.  During that time of incredible hardships, she established an extraordinary bond with the tree, and learned more about herself and the spiritual nature of the universe.  Truly, the first step in preserving nature in our world, must be to learn how to appreciate and understand it.  Then, not even dollars will be able to tempt us to needlessly destroy it.  This book certainly helps to bring us closer to nature, at the same time as it shows us that there is still room, in our society, for heroic and moral action in defense of things that matter.

Green Essentials:  What You Need To Know About The Environment, by Geoffrey Saign.  This book, which is organized in an encyclopedic format, contains sections on many different environmental problems which threaten us today, explaining the causes and possible consequences of each, and providing suggestions for what needs to be done to deal with them.  It is an excellent introduction and resource for anyone who wants to become informed about environmental matters, as a prelude to becoming either an activist, or simply a more responsible citizen, aware of the impact of his daily actions, and the activities of his society, upon the well-being of the earth.

The Story Of The Irish Race, by Seumas MacManus.  And now, to another kind of green.  Though it is said not to be the perfectly accurate history, this book on the history of Ireland from ancient times to about the end of the 1930s, is written with passion, a love of Irish culture, the spark and spirit of the Irish soul, and a language that, though outdated in the eyes of some, to me is charming and filled with beauty.  It is one of those books that leaves you feeling you have not only encountered a subject, but a soul, that towers over its faults by holding, steadfastly, to the essence of what it cherishes:  the essence, which is most often lost in the effort to achieve absolute precision.  Make no mistake: a master storyteller is at work, here (more than a meticulous scholar).  Doubtless, this book will appeal more to those who have an Irish background than those who do not, for they will most likely feel something in it that others cannot.  Something familiar, drawing them back, with every page they turn...

The Druids, by Peter Berresford Ellis.  This is a scholarly yet readable, and frequently fascinating, book, rich with information for those who want to know the historical truth about the Druids. 

Secrets Of The Samurai, by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook.  A fascinating study of ancient Japanese warriors - the culture, the weapons, the fighting styles, the history.  This is a substantial and thorough treatment of the subject, and to top it off, it is accompanied by abundant illustrations. 

The Generalship Of Alexander The Great, by Major General JFC Fuller.  Alexander the Great was one of the most influential and startling figures of history, a warrior-king of ancient Macedonia whose brief, meteoric life changed the world forever.  While he lived, and even afterwards, his aura and mystique captivated, inspired, and terrified.  This account of his life shows both his nobility and his dark side, it credits his virtues and exposes his flaws (though it cannot be denied that Fuller was a little bewitched by Alexander's personality). However, this is far from being a straightforward, or even psychological biography.  It is actually a detailed and technical military history, which would be very well-suited for students at West Point, or some other professional military academy.  It contains clear and insightful commentary on the strategic and tactical challenges facing Alexander throughout his military career, explanations of the weapons and military practices of the day, maps, diagrams of battle formations, and intricate descriptions of battles.  Why have I put this book on my list?  Because it is detailed and insightful history, and chronicles the life of one of history's most fascinating characters, a world conqueror whose desire to secure his conquests began to lead him towards unique visions of world peace (based upon the mixture of cultures and races, so that there would no longer be differences between conqueror and conquered).  Alexander's early death, at 32 years of age, put an end to his experiment, but the Hellenistic Age which followed did significantly affect the development of civilization.  Of JFC Fuller, it may be said that he was one of the greatest military historians of our times, or any time.  One of the original theorists behind the development and use of armored vehicles in warfare - (they saw action near the end of World War I, and came into their own during the massive conflicts of World War II) - he was a clear-thinking and imaginative British army officer.  As a writer, he was able to combine this personal familiarity with warfare, with a vast knowledge of history, and superior analytical abilities, to produce such classics as his three volume Military History Of The Western World;  Julius Caesar:  Man, Soldier, And Tyrant;  Armament And History;  The Generalship Of Ulysses S. Grant; and Grant And Lee:  A Study In Personality And Generalship.  At the same time, Fuller had his prejudices, and reflected many of the views of his culture and class, regarding other lands, such as India.  He also evidenced sympathy for British fascism, at a certain stage of life.  Keeping this in mind, however, his books remain an impressive source of military history and broader historical analysis.

Ancient Inventions, by Peter James and Nick Thorpe.  A well-illustrated, and fascinating survey of the technical achievements of other times, which also sheds light on the culture and customs of other civilizations.  Here, you will find information on automatic doors, flamethrowers, electric batteries, and other unexpected wonders of the ancient world.  A true tribute to the ingenuity of human beings, and a reminder that our ancestors were not so primitive as we sometimes, in the arrogance of modern times, allow ourselves to believe.

Hiroshima, by John Hersey.  The vivid story of the first atomic bombing of a city filled with living people, as it was experienced by several survivors.  Hersey, who tells us the story, himself, skillfully weaves together the perspectives of the disaster which were conveyed to him by his informants, bringing the enormity of the tragedy into focus by making it intensely personal, and unavoidably real.  In an era when the nuclear menace remains, and in some ways, is perhaps even growing, this book is indispensable, if painful, reading.

Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition, Anne Frank, edited by Miriam Pressler.  This version contains some passages omitted from the original.  Anne Frank's diary, by simply reflecting the great humanity, and the life, waiting to be lived, of this young girl, helps to personalize the barbarity and injustice of the Holocaust for those who have no personal connection of their own.  It serves as a reminder and warning that we must never again allow the beauty of so many human beings - of any single human being - to be swallowed up, in this way, by lies, ignorance, and hate.

Night, by Elie Wiesel.  Wiesel's award-winning account of his own firsthand experience with the Holocaust.  Simply written, yet often poetic and powerful, it is another message, to our world, of the need to hold onto our humanity at all costs - for nothing else - power, riches, or "salvation" - matters more.

Civilization And Its Discontents, by Sigmund Freud.  Considered outdated now, and challenged in many ways, Civilization And Its Discontents, nonetheless, represents a hugely ambitious effort, and a vital step in the attempt, to link human war and aggression to the psychological dynamics of human beings.  It retains value for many important insights which have not lost their value with time.  As you probably know, nothing by Freud counts as easy reading, though this is surely easier to handle than most of his works.

On Aggression, by Konrad Lorenz.  This book, by German naturalist Konrad Lorenz, sparked off a wave of controversy when it was first published in the mid-1960s.  Beginning with detailed studies of the nature and purposes of aggression in the animal kingdom, Lorenz then sought to shed light on the nature of human aggression.  Behind his work was the generous, even noble impulse, to try to increase Man's understanding of himself and the processes responsible for his endless repetitions of violent actions, surely the first step in finding a way to peace.  However, many critics rejected his attempt to transfer knowledge gained from animal studies to humans, while others fled from the possibility that we might be biologically "rigged" to be aggressive.  In reality, though some of the criticism leveled at this book was valid, much of it was an overreaction,  the product of misunderstanding, or else a battle for intellectual turf.  In my opinion, the book is tremendously valuable.  As with any book of this nature, it need not be swallowed whole, but neither need it be cast away without regard to the truth it contains.  Rather, it ought to be allowed to become one of many inputs into our thinking on aggression, one of many weapons with which to fight the war against war.

Memories, Dreams, And Reflections, by Carl Gustav Jung, edited by Aniela Jaffe.  This is the autobiography of CG Jung, the disciple, then rival of Freud, who introduced mythology, spirituality and mysticism to the study of psychology.  Though his approach was rejected by many, it has, nonetheless, exerted a major influence on Western thought.  Jaffe, working with Jung's approval, combined various of Jung's writings and lectures to produce this autobiography, which some critics object to, on account of the fact that it does not deal with the more controversial aspects of Jung's life, such as his sexual involvement with some of his patients, and his momentary flirtation with Nazism, as a mythology come to life.  (Jung later pulled back from Nazism.)  Nonetheless, this work serves as a fascinating introduction to the life and ideas of one of the most important thinkers of our times:  a great genius who sought to reunite the scientific and the spiritual in his unique, and still thriving, approach to psychology.

The Archetypes And The Collective Unconscious, by CG Jung.  Probably Jung's best-known work, in which he links his study of the human psyche, and its most compelling, powerful images, to material drawn from fairy tales, myths, and religion.  This is a substantial intellectual work, not light reading, although, for those who have an appetite for this material, and a craving to explore the human soul in depth, the book should prove to be fascinating and engaging.

Psychology And Alchemy, by CG Jung.  Ditto.  Not easy reading, but very fascinating for those inclined.  Here, Jung links medieval alchemic lore, and religious teachings, with the psychological development and spiritual transformation of the individual.

The Hero With A Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell.  Joseph Campbell is known as one of the great presenters of myth to the modern audience.  His works have filled our lives with the richness and wonder of mythological tales from all the world's cultures, at the same time as he has repeatedly shown us the relationship between those myths and our own lives, our own psychological nature, and our own inner and outer journeys.  This book is considered to be one of his most enduring legacies.

Iron John:  A Book About Men, by Robert Bly.  This book draws heavily upon fairy tale, myth, and psychology to explore the meaning of being a man.  Bly's basic goal, in writing this book, is to promote the recovery of manhood in our modern times.  Somewhere in between the cruel, unfeeling, emotionally distant man and the broken, submissive, henpecked man, lies Bly's vision of true manhood - the strong, brave, heroic, and daring, yet compassionate and sensitive man, who, to him, represents the ideal of manhood.

Women Who Run With Wolves:  Myths And Stories Of The Wild Woman, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  As Bly has sought to promote a recovery of manhood with Iron John, so Estes argues, here, for a recovery of the lost essence of womanhood.  Using myth, psychology, and folklore she seeks to rediscover a more empowered image of what woman can be, to inspire the woman of today, who she feels has been limited by modern culture and the vision of herself which it has planted in her head.

The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, by the Brothers Grimm, from the Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library.  This classic collection of fairy tales contains such well-known stories as Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Little Red Riding Hood.  However, be warned:  the Brothers "Grimm" is no exaggeration!  Many of these tales contain a dark side, and even stories you thought were sweet and joyful, may be more sinister than you expected!  This is the original stuff, no sugar added.

Hans Christian Andersen:  The Complete Fairy Tales And Stories, by HCA, translated by Erik Christian Haugaard.  This famous collection includes such famous tales as The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and The Emperor's New Clothes.  (Note:  If you want to buy a fairy tale collection for your kids, and this applies to any book of fairy tales, I would recommend that you go on a hands-on shopping trip to find a version which utilizes a suitable vocabulary for your child's level of understanding, and which also has the most intriguing and imagination-inspiring illustrations, as well as the right tone.  The books mentioned here, unless explicitly designated as "children's books", should not be considered as such.)

Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi, translated by E. Harden.  The original version.  No, he's not as bad as Chucky, but neither is he quite as good as the Disney Pinocchio.  A wonderful story of flawed character, mistakes, love, and transformation.  Of course, it's all about the wooden puppet and his many adventures!

Aesop's Fables, by Aesop (in theory at least.  He probably got many of his stories from other sources, and some other stories were added on later.  This does not, however, detract from his skill as a storyteller, which is responsible for the aura still attached to his name.)  These delightful fables of animals and men transmit important moral lessons and insights on life.  No specific version is being recommended here.  Depending on whether you want a version closer to the "original", or one of the many adaptations created for different age levels, and personalities, you have many to choose from.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll.  The classic tale, in its original form, including the famous drawings of Sir John Tenniel.  Here, you will meet Alice, the white rabbit, the smoking caterpillar (Grace Slick wasn't just making that up), the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and the (very nasty) Queen of Hearts.

Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift.  An imaginative satire by the brilliant Irishman.  It follows L. Gulliver in his numerous voyages and adventures throughout the world, beginning in, but by no means limited to, the land of the Lilliputians, where a race of tiny men seeks to put Gulliver's stature - for to them he is a giant - to good use.  Behind the mask of entertainment, of course, Swift takes aim at many of the manners, customs, and absurdities of human nature, and his times.  While some consider his prose to be dry, Gulliver's Travels is written in the style of the period, and that style will not conceal the insight and cleverness of Swift's mind from those who are open to receive it.

Candide, by Voltaire, translated by John Butt.  The classic satire by the 18th-century French genius, Voltaire.  It follows the adventures of its hero, Candide, a heroically optimistic individual determined to hold onto his positive worldview, as he encounters one misfortune after another.  Somehow, Voltaire manages to turn the most horrifying disasters, crimes, and abuses into comedy, and to maintain an air of lightness in the midst of the dark content of his book - no simple task.  But underneath it all, of course, is his amazement at the cruelty of the world, a sense, almost of awe, at the depths of its madness, a longing for a return to sanity, and, at the very least, a commitment to be compassionate and just within the small part of the world that one, oneself, can affect.  For all would-be authors of satire, this is a masterpiece of the genre, something to learn from.

The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights, edited and translated by Richard Francis Burton.  Some of the most captivating stories ever conceived.  Selections from the famous Middle-Eastern collection, including the adventures of Ali Baba, Sinbad the Sailor, and Aladdin.  Genies, magic lamps, flying carpets, sorcerers, princesses, heroes.  A wonderful work that excites the imagination; a creative spark that helps to awaken something deep in the human heart, which prevents all who fall under its spell from ever being absorbed by the commonplace.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh:  An English Version With An Introduction, translated by NK Sandars.  This is a prose rendition of the epic poem from ancient Sumeria, which was originally recorded on clay tablets.  It is filled with adventures of many kinds.  Here you will encounter acts of heroism, dangerous creatures, goddesses, love, sex, the search for immortality, and the famous "flood myth", which has astounded so many with its striking similarities to the Biblical story of Noah.

The Complete Kama Sutra:  The First Unabridged Modern Translation Of The Classic Indian Text, translated by Alain Danielou.  This, of course, is not mythology, not a fairy tale, and not a legend, (though it sometimes seems like it!), but an ancient Indian guide to the erotic arts.  It was meant to empower those individuals who read it with the vast possibilities of their own sensuality, teaching them how to seduce, please, and enjoy; how to fully develop the sensual dimension of life.  Being an ancient text, it naturally reflects not only the insight of its times, but also the prejudices.  Many of its ideas will displease or even shock the modern reader.  However, the historically curious will find this to be a fascinating window into another time and place, while the selective erotic reader will be able to find useful tips for his (or her) love life, today.  Need it be said?  Pick and choose, carefully:  some things here "should not be tried at home."  Also, it should be added, this book contains none of those exotic love-making pictures that many have come to associate with "kama sutra."  (Letting you know, now, so there won't be any disappointment.)  There are other books which do attempt to combine texts on Indian and Oriental love-making methods, with useful or exciting drawings or photographs. And certainly, there are more practical "sex manuals" for the modern-day lover!  However, if you want to be able to say, "I am well-versed in the kama sutra..."  (Something like having a black belt?)

A Treasury Of African Folklore:  The Oral Literature, Traditions, Myths, Legends, Epics, Tales, Recollections, Wisdom, Sayings, and Humor Of Africa, by Harold Courlander.  The title pretty much says it all.  A very fascinating collection of tales from diverse African peoples, a cultural goldmine.

American Indian Myths And Legends, selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.  A collection of stories from various Native American peoples, the vast majority of which would be classified as "myth" and "legend", though a few are accounts of historically-recognized events (such as the death of Sitting Bull and "Roman Nose").

The Odyssey of Homer, translated by Richmond Lattimore.  I love Lattimore as a translator, but other popular versions include those featuring the translations of E.V. Rieu, and Robert Fagles.  (And, of course, there are more.)  This, of course, is the classic tale of Odysseus (aka Ulysses) and the adventures that befell him as he sought to return home to Greece after the Trojan War (which is described, in detail, in Homer's Iliad).  Here, you will meet many of the Gods of ancient Greece, including Odysseus' great protector, Athena; the terrifying, one-eyed Cyclops; the perilous sorceress Circe; the one-two punch of the monsters Scylla and Charybdis; the deadly sirens, with their enchanting, lethal voices; the beautiful sea nymph Calypso, who for many years kept Odysseus a prisoner of her love; and, finally, Odysseus' faithful, long-suffering wife, Penelope.  Most of all you will come face to face with Odysseus, an adventurer, brilliant and sometimes cruel, yet undeniably admirable for his tenacity, courage, resourcefulness, and ultimately, for his commitment to return home against all odds, and set his house aright. 

Ten Plays By Euripides, translated by Moses Hadas.  This collection of the works of the ancient Greek playwright, Euripides, contains such classics as Medea, Iphigenia At Aulis, and The Trojan Women.  The plays utilize themes derived from Greek mythology, to deal with deeply human  issues.  They are, at times, intensely dramatic, and filled with poetic and powerful speech.

The Oedipus Plays Of Sophocles:  Oedipus The King, Oedipus At Colonus, Antigone, translated by Paul Roche.  Sophocles was another brilliant Greek playwright, and this book contains what is considered to be the core of his achievement:  the Oedipus Cycle.  In it, we encounter the tragic hero of Oedipus, a noble man who was cursed by fate to (unknowingly) slay his own father and sleep with his own mother.  We also encounter the magnificent heroine, Antigone, the ultimate role model for those who choose their conscience over the law, and their devotion to justice over life.

The Golden Ass, by Lucius Apuleius, translated by Robert Graves.  A remarkable tale from ancient Rome.  It is a high-spirited, humor-filled story of adventure, sensuality, and magic, in which the hero is transformed into an ass and must seek to recover his human form.  Those enamored of the Egyptian Goddess, Isis, will be pleased to note that she comes to play a major role, here, as a of force of hope and redemption.

Le Morte D'Arthur, by Sir Thomas Malory.  This is the basic, classic source for the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.  Honor, chivalry, adventure, magic, betrayal, battle - legends of the medieval world.  Some readers like the version by Keith Baines (somewhat condensed and striving to make the text easier for the modern reader); some prefer fuller texts, such as Elizabeth J. Bryan's.  (Both texts are long.)  Your choice. For anyone captivated by the legend and lore of the Middle Ages, this work, in whatever version, is essential.

Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, anonymous, "translated" by Brian Stone.  A fourteenth-century epic poem relating the many adventures and tests faced by Sir Gawain, as he sought to prove himself a truly worthy soul, able to live and die by his knightly codes.

Don Quixote Of La Mancha, by Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra).  I am not selecting a version here.  Different translations and print sizes may need to come into play in your buying decision!  This is the famous story of the deluded, yet somehow beautiful man, who persisted in being a knight and living according to romantic notions of chivalry, after the days of the knight had passed.  Who cannot be moved by this man who did battle with windmills - whose fertile imagination turned the world and its people into something that they were not - whose heart, driven by noble and heroic impulses, could only find fulfillment by living in a world of fantasies and illusions - whose secret greatness, unable to find a way into the real world, could only appear as madness to others?  While some may find the huge sentences and sometimes meandering story line difficult to grapple with, this is really one of the great classics of literature, which should not be missed.

Cyrano de Bergerac:  An Heroic Comedy In Five Acts, by Edmond Rostand, translated by Brian Hooker.  "Comedy" or not, this is actually a very moving, and even tragic play, about the life and love - yes, singular - of  a magnificent French swordsman, poet, and philosopher.  Rostand was truly "in the zone" when he wrote this masterpiece.  It will appeal particularly to a certain form of character, which is aware, from its own wounds, of the price one must pay for having a great soul; for having inner beauty, unseen and passed over by the eyes of a world which is fixed on appearances; for refusing to bow down to others and to play any one of the many mediocre games of life by which people get ahead.  For such types, Cyrano will emerge as an inspiring vindication.

The Time Machine, by HG Wells.  HG Wells was, of course, the brilliant - and I mean brilliant - English thinker and science fiction writer, whose legacy continues to be felt today.  The Time Machine is his classic tale of time travel, with important comments to make about the directions society might be taking, as leisure class and working class grow farther and farther apart in terms of lifestyle (which he envisioned as eventually producing a biological effect).  Although that social message was more relevant to his own times, it is not utterly irrelevant in our own.  And we remain with a fine adventure story, and a homage to the human spirit.  This is the novel whose success enabled HG Wells to become a full-time writer, so I've always paid special attention to it!

The War Of The Worlds, by HG Wells.  This is the famous tale of a Martian invasion of the Earth.  It's a great adventure tale, and, at the same time, it contained a serious message to Europeans of Wells' day, about the injustice of imperialism (for here Wells showed Europeans what it might be like to be victims of the same kind of imperialism they were guilty of perpetrating in Africa and Asia).  The impact of the tale was so impressive that, many years later, when Orson Welles (no relation) presented a realistically-performed radio play based upon the story, here, in the United States, thousands of people flew into a panic, arming themselves, fleeing in automobiles from the supposed site of the Martian landing, even committing suicide.  It's a powerful theme and concept, stirring something deep inside of us.

The Invisible Man, by HG Wells.  About, none other, than The Invisible Man.  A classic tale concerning power, and the temptations and opportunities it places before he who possesses it.  What would you do if you had that power?

The Island Of Dr. Moreau, by HG Wells.  Today, many think of this in terms of some cheap Hollywood horror movie, but it is actually an allegory of great profundity, demonstrating both the dangers unleashed when Man seeks to act as God (think, today, of genetic engineering), and the tenuous nature of civilization, in which the law and our visions of a higher way of life sometimes seem but a fragile defense against the primitive, "animal" side of our human nature.  It is a powerful and disturbing work which challenges us to think more deeply about who we are, and how we can ever come to terms with ourselves.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne.  Probably the best work of the "father of science fiction."  It's a solid adventure story, centered on the mysterious genius, Captain Nemo, who turns his fabulous submarine (operating in an age of wooden ships) to a crusade against the world's shipping.  What's up with him?  Can he be stopped?  Should he be stopped? 

Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley.  Yes, the classic "monster" story. Only who is the monster:  Frankenstein, or the world that seeks to drive him away?

Faust, by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.  No single version is being recommended.  There are two parts/volumes to Faust, but Part I, complete in and of itself, is most commonly read.  I am staying away from recommending a version, because there is simply too much controversy regarding the quality of the translations, and I have not done enough work on this one to select what I feel is the best.  (For example, some praise the Kaufman translation, well others express considerable dislike for it.)  It might be best for you to do a hands-on check of versions at the library and, or, bookstore, to see which one you relate to best.  The Faust legend, of course, deals with a man who sells his soul to the Devil (aka Mephistopheles) in an effort to go beyond the bounds of earthly knowledge, to break free of the limitations that hem in every man (in other versions of this tale, men sell their souls for power).  In Goethe's version, a tragic romantic tale is added to the scenario, to give it additional impact, and place new emphasis upon the consequences of Faust's actions. 

Edgar Allan Poe:  Complete Tales And Poems, by EAP.  Somewhat unnerving to some readers for his frequently morbid and definitely dark imagination, there can be no doubt that Edgar Allan Poe was also a creative genius, a master of suspense and horror.  This collection has been well-received by Poe lovers.

Collected Fictions, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.  A thorough collection of the short stories of this renowned South American master, whose complexity and intellect, and command of the medium of short fiction, are famous worldwide.  Frequently dealing with the metaphysical and fantasy, his stories are usually well-constructed and intriguing.

One Hundred Years Of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  THE classic in the genre of magical realism.  The brilliant Colombian storyteller tells the tale of an imaginary town known as Macondo, and through it, presents a fantasy-view of the real-life culture, beliefs, and history of Latin America. It is a beautiful and significant book, which has not only earned its author a Nobel Prize, and opened up a new dimension in modern literature, but which, even more importantly, continues to captivate and cast its spell over new generations.

Focault's Pendelum, by Umberto Eco.  This complex, engaging tale is a kind of metaphysical fantasy, mystery and puzzle, piecing together strands of spiritual knowledge and occult secrets, all with the sense that some great, concealed power may be lurking just around the corner if the pieces can somehow be joined together in the right way.  The adventure begins as some friends begin to feed esoteric data from the ages into a powerful computer.  Soon, they are being led into a web of excitement, confusion, suspicion, and doubt, as the line between reality and illusion becomes blurred, and as fears of a gigantic, age-old conspiracy to suppress the truth and to control the unknown power which they believe they are closing in on, emerge.  This book is like a labyrinth, maddening to some, and irresistible to others.  In its heyday, it was vaunted as " the #1 international bestseller."  Surprising for a book so filled with substance!

The Complete Stories, Franz Kafka.  Kafka was a brilliant writer of realistic - sometimes torturously realistic - fantasy.  A true innovator and genius.  This collection contains his most famous short stories, including The Metamorphosis:  "Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to discover he had been transformed into a giant insect."

The Trial, by Franz Kafka.  A novel, in which the protagonist is accused of a crime, and yet, cannot find out what is really going on, or straighten things out.  Here, there is a mixture of the frustration that arises from bureaucracy, the lack of logic that pervades a dream, the fear that results from an uncertain future, and the discomfort and guilt of feeling oneself  perpetually suspected or accused of something -  a kind of shadow which modern society so often forces us to live under.  This novel has all the quality of a terrible, utterly senseless yet disturbing nightmare, from which one cannot awaken.  It is intriguing, and technically important for revealing yet another possibility of literature.

Chekhov - Five Plays:  Ivanov, The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, And The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov, translated by Ronald Hingley.  Five plays by the masterful Russian writer.  I remember how impressed I was to see both The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard, performed on the stage:  works filled with ideas, drama, intense characters and interactions.

The Chekhov Omnibus:  Selected Stories (The Everyman Library), Anton Chekhov, translated by Constance Garnett.  Chekhov is considered to be one of the masters of the short story, able to bring an entire life and a powerful dilemma to fruition in but a few short pages.

Crime And Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  For readers, Dostoevsky is an intense experience.  For writers, he is an indispensable experience.  Dostoevsky's ability to bring to light the psychological complexities, issues, and torments of his characters is remarkable.  Nowhere is this more evident than in this classic tale of a murderer, forced to battle with the fear of being discovered, and with the overpowering sense of guilt for what he has done.  Naturally, I also highly recommend Dostoevsky's other writings, including The Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, and Notes From The Underground.

Thus Spake Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche.  This is a poetic, forceful, and combative book, in which Nietzsche uses the character of Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the ancient Persian prophet, to project his own philosophy, at odds with so many of the values, attitudes, and assumptions of the modern world.  Nietzsche is distrusted by many, due to the fascination of the Nazis with elements of his philosophy (such as the "superman" concept).  However, Nietzsche died over 20 years before Hitler first entered the consciousness of the German nation with his beer hall putsch; and it is clear that the Nazis took from Nietzsche what they wanted, out of context, and without loyalty to its intent.  This is not meant to imply that Nietzsche is not, and was not then, controversial.  However, he did not fly from being the lonely warrior.  Being controversial fed him, leading him to reach great visions, carried on the wings of magnificent words, before his fierce mental war against the world and himself finally burned him out, leaving him fragile and insane at the foot of the mountain his mind had given birth to. Thus Spake Zarathustra is not balanced, or reasonable, it is a passionate reaction to a world which incited Nietzsche to revolt.  Though extreme, to the minds of some, it remains more than valuable reading.

The Death Of Artemio Cruz, by Carlos Fuentes.  This is a novel of the Mexican Revolution, of the battle for justice, the pursuit of ideals, the power of reality and human temptation, and the betrayal of those ideals.  It is a story conveyed by flashbacks, as the dying Artemio Cruz, at the end of his long - too long - life, encounters episodes and images from his past, which reflect the painful journey of the Mexican nation, as its rebirth, through pain and revolution, ultimately leads to nothing more than another death, brought about by corruption and exhaustion.  Carlos Fuentes is one of the most highly respected of modern Latin American writers, and the passionate intensity of his early writing, embodied in such works as The Death Of Artemio Cruz and Where The Air Is Clear (La Region Mas Transparente), stands out for the powerful critique of modern Mexico which it delivers.  (And no, recent political changes in Mexico have not abolished the tragedy.)

1984, by George Orwell.  The classic novel of life in a futuristic totalitarian regime.  Though we have now traveled well past 1984 (the year), "1984" (the concept) remains as a haunting vision of a potential future that may well ensnare us if we do not carefully guard our freedom from those who would steal it from us, through manipulation, or by our own surrender of our will.  A supremely important book.

Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.  Another dark vision of the future, in which human beings are bred in laboratories, engineered for a specific purpose, raised by the state, and kept at peace by an empty regimen of material satisfactions, and drugs used to combat depression.  This is not recent science fiction, it is an old classic whose nightmare, is, unfortunately, becoming more recognizable by the minute.

On The Road, by Jack Kerouac.  The classic novel of the "beat generation", combining a knowledge of the street, the down and out characters of the street, and the nonconformist lifestyles of the soul-searching misfits of America - the world's wealthiest and poorest land - with a new, wide-open literary style, filled with energy and enthusiasm, freshness (like the earth's first day) and the desire to drink up life, experience, and hope, everywhere it could be found, and even from places where it couldn't.  For me, this, and other books by Kerouac - such as The Dharma Bums, Visions Of Cody, and Subterraneans - were crucial in expanding my concept of style, and showing me how writing could become more intimately a part of real life, standing right there beside it, rather than looking down at it from an isolated tower.  Of course, for that style to work, one has to live oneself into it, for true experience is the only ink that such a pen can write with.

Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke: A Translation From The German With Commentary, by Rilke, translated/edited by Robert Bly. A selection of some of Rilke’s best poems: personal, sensitive, profound. Tastes in poetry are always personal, but Rilke is regarded, by many, to be one of history’s finest poets. He is certainly one of my favorites.

The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, et al. A beautiful collection of the poetry of Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi mystic, whose wisdom, life force, spirituality, light, and power of expression, delivered to us through the wonderful interpretations of Coleman Barks, have turned him into one of the most beloved poets of our own times. For those who love poetry, and for those whose hearts are seeking a deeper understanding of life, there is no experience to compare with Rumi!

The Soul Of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, et al. Another volume of Rumi’s poems. More beauty. More enlightenment.

The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward Fitzgerald. A rather free-spirited translation of the great poem by Omar Khayyam, the Persian Sufi mystic, in the sense that Fitzgerald was constantly revising his translation, and it looked different every time he did! However, no one can doubt the beauty of Fitzgerald’s rendering, which stands, on its own, as great English poetry. In a long sequence of frequently magnificent quatrains, Fitzgerald presents the musings of Omar Khayyam, his longing and sorrow about the brevity of earthly life. Far from being some kind of fun-loving wino, as one English professor of mine once portrayed him, Khayyam was a gifted astronomer and mystic who seems to have awakened to the beautiful potential of life on the earth, and to have been driven by that to feel intense sorrow at the inevitability of its passing. (Obviously, he had doubts about the existence of the Beyond.) However, this is not just a "sad poem" - it is an incomparable mixture of sorrow and joy, celebrating and mourning, despair and determination (to taste of life, before it must be left behind.) This is the poem that contains the famous lines (in one of the versions): "A Book of Verses underneath the Bough/A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and Thou/Beside me singing in the Wilderness -/Oh, wilderness were Paradise enow!" For me, this is one of the most moving poems ever written.

One Hundred Poems From The Japanese, translated by Kenneth Rexroth. This is a small, elegant volume of classical Japanese poems, mainly "tanka": poems of 5 lines (in the original), consisting of set numbers of syllables (5/7/5/7/7). An exquisite sensibility comes through, touching on subjects such as the beauty of nature, loneliness, longing, love, and mortality. Rexroth has also compiled similarly small and lovely volumes, entitled: One Hundred More Poems From The Japanese, One Hundred Poems From The Chinese, and One Hundred More Poems From The Chinese: Love And The Turning Year.

An Introduction To Haiku: An Anthology Of Poems And Poets From Basho to Shiki, translations and commentary by Harold G. Henderson. This volume has been around for some time, but remains an excellent introduction to haiku, the famous Japanese poetry-form consisting of three lines, which total 17 syllables. But, of course, the structure is not the essence, only a challenge to the artist, who must use the limitations imposed upon him by the form to evoke a moving, or even transcendental, thought. For those able to connect, every true haiku is like a door opening in the heart.

Pablo Neruda: Selected Poems, translated by Anthony Kerrigan. Honestly speaking, I have not seen the translation in this version. It seems that some have liked it, and some have not. The truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a really strong translation of Neruda’s Spanish into English. Luckily, this is a bilingual edition, containing both the Spanish original and the English rendering, so that, for those who know some Spanish, it will be possible to see Neruda’s own words, as well as what they have been turned into. This having been said, Neruda is one of the great poets of the 20th century, a man of acute sensibility who could find a universe in a stalk of celery. Cats, lemons, haircuts, anything could become a source of poetic inspiration for him. His metaphorical audacity sometimes exceeds my capacity to relate to, but his imagination is astonishing and his emotion intense. To top it off, Neruda was also endowed with an ardent sense of justice, and a well-developed social conscience. No self-absorbed genius, here! Whether Neruda’s poetry will resonate with your own poetic taste, or not, he should be read, for his greatness as a poet and a human being is undeniable.

Leaves Of Grass, by Walt Whitman. "The Great American Poet." Whitman’s free verse is outstanding for its exuberance, its sense of life and wonder, his words sometimes seem like the eruption of a great life force that wants to see everything, be with everything, connect with everything. Wandering, seeking, sometimes making mistakes, always living - this spirit is Whitman’s.

Shakespeare: Complete Sonnets, by who? Call in Sherlock Holmes on this one. We know Shakespeare, best, as a master playwright: Hamlet, King Lear, MacBeth, Julius Caesar, Othello, Romeo And Juliet, The Tempest, etc. (I like the New Folger Library editions). But Shakespeare was also a great poet, a true master of the 14-line sonnet, and this edition contains all of his sonnets. It is a poetry-lover’s and a Shakespeare-lover’s delight.

Green Eggs And Ham, by Dr. Seuss.  Green Eggs And Ham next to Shakespeare?!  As they say, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  KID'S BOOK!!!  (Really LITTLE kid's book.)  As so many of Dr. Seuss' stories, besides the excellent illustrations and enjoyable story, this one contains an important lesson for the young ones:  remaining open-minded, and being willing to try new things.  ("Thank God," I can hear many parents saying, "he did not write this one for teenagers!")  If you're struggling to get Junior to eat his peas, maybe this can help - at least until his first bite!

Horton Hears A Who, by Dr. Seuss.  The rest of the Dr. Seuss books in this listing are for slightly older kids.  (Slightly.)  This is a wonderful story about a big-hearted elephant whose huge ears allow him to hear voices on a miniature world, which no one else believes is inhabited.  And so, they are going to destroy it.  It's up to Horton to prove that there really is life there, but to do that, he needs the help of everyone who lives there.  This story shows the importance of people working together to achieve a common purpose, and also demonstrates the importance of every human being, "no matter how small." 

Horton Hatches The Egg, by Dr. Seuss.  In this adventure, a mother bird who wants to have a good time leaves an egg she has just laid with Horton, who must keep it warm in her absence.  He endures a lot of hardships to fulfill his duty, until finally, when the egg is about to hatch, the mother, who has been off enjoying herself, flies back to claim it for herself.  Of course, that leaves Horton, who has grown attached to the egg and the life he is protecting inside it, feeling sad and down.  But when the egg hatches, voila, it is a bird that looks like Horton!  Of course, the story shows how, even without being a child's real parent, your love and dedication can help that child so much, and shape his or her life in a positive way.  This is a situation that applies to many families today, in which aunts and uncles and grandparents are raising kids, under difficult circumstances. I haven't decided how appropriate this story is for kids growing up in such families - would it give them something, or just hurt them or remind them? - but it sure is a nice story for surrogate parents.  A kind of well-deserved vindication.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss.  The classic story of the mean-hearted Grinch, who feels left out and resentful about Christmas, and determines to sabotage it for all those who are capable of enjoying it.  And yet, his actions help to reveal the true spirit of Christmas, by taking away everything that hides the essence.  A beautiful kid's story about generosity and love, the real forces that we should be celebrating every day.

Bartholomew And The Ooblek, by Dr. Seuss.  While Green Eggs And Ham seems to say "Try new things", this book seems to say, "Be satisfied with the same, old things."  Actually, it is best understood as a message to appreciate, and be able to find contentment, in the things you already have.  Whatever the message, the story is too delightful to miss.  This is the one about the bored king, who wants something new in his kingdom, and so, has his magicians conjure up something from outside the realm of nature, which turns out to be ooblek - a sticky green substance, which falls out of the sky instead of snow or rain, and soon, has turned his kingdom into an absolute mess!

DVDs/VHS:  Yes, this is a section on books, and No, I am not going to get into DVDs, video cassettes, music CDs, etc.  With one exception!  I consider the movies of Charlie Chaplin to be such a humanizing force - so beautiful, tender, hilarious, and infused with social conscience - that I could not bear to leave them out.  As we all know, video purchases are usually more expensive than the average book purchase.  Maybe, in a pinch, you could rent them?  Here are my favorites:   Modern Times, City Lights, The Gold Rush, The Circus.  All of these are silent, or essentially silent, movies, of course.  However, I have always found that the primitive black and white images, accompanied by moving soundtracks, often emphasizing piano, evoke something which completely eludes the higher technical quality of our modern-day  films.  Once you get into this world, you may find its sentimentality infectious, its poignancy intense, and, of course, its humor outrageously funny.  Laughter therapy and a course in being a human being, all in one.  For me, Chaplin ranks with the great artists of all time.

OK, I can't restrain myself.  In the DVD/VHS category, I would also like to recommend The Red Balloon, a 1956 short by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.  This movie, in French, with English subtitles, is the beautiful and moving story of a young boy and the magical balloon which befriends him; and of the terrible bullies whose cruelty threatens the young boy and his balloon.  It is a movie which will break your heart, then lift it up again.  I saw this movie as a child, and it affected me deeply.  No one is too old for it.  As for whether you want your young child to see it - for the persecution by the bullies is quite painful - that is for you to decide.

And finally, let's give it up for Cinema Paradiso, the 1988 movie by filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore, in Italian with English subtitles.  This is a wonderful film about the beautiful world of fantasy (the movies); the friendship and love between a small boy and an old man, who is the projectionist at the local movie theater (something like the genie of the magic lamp); time, change, and nostalgia; the dreams of youth; lost love; and the heart of life, that is somehow missing, cut out like frames edited from a film, by a society that, for some reason, has no place for what really matters.  The movie is funny, touching, and at times, a real tear-jerker (if you're a man and you don't cry, you're not macho, you're heartless!)  But amidst the tears, I find something beautiful and uplifting - a plea for us to really live, and to recapture all the beauty and potential that is "cut out" of life.

CDs:  Well - not to break my own rules, but here's one CD.  Not a music CD, because I wouldn't know where to begin, but a really vintage and bizarre CD.  As you probably know, once upon a time, before there was the TV - say what?! - there was the radio!  In the so-called "Golden Age of Radio", the family radio set, often placed in the heart of the household, the same as the TV is today, was not only a source of music, but also of drama and comedy shows.  Radio plays used the human voice, sound effects, and music to stimulate the human imagination, in much the same way as a book, evoking elaborate mental imagery and eliciting sometimes intense emotion, to create a first-rate entertainment experience.  The CD presented here - War Of The Worlds (1938 Mercury Theatre Of The Air Radio Broadcast) - was Orson Welles' adaptation of the famous science fiction novel by HG Wells, which described a Martian invasion of the Earth.  The amazing thing about this radio play, constructed as a kind of "Halloween joke" - or, really, more of an "April Fool's joke" - is that its dramatic simulation of a Martian invasion of the earth, beginning with a (phony) radio concert ("regular programming") which was then "interrupted" by (fake) news bulletins - triggered off a national panic.  Many people who missed the disclaimer at the beginning, and just happened to tune in once the show was already underway, fled from their homes in a desperate effort to escape from the Martians, who were said to be landing in New Jersey.  Others barricaded themselves in their houses and prepared to make a stand.  Still others committed suicide.  The play is fascinating on many levels, not the least of which, is for the insight it gives us regarding human nature, fear, and manipulability, as well as the power of the media to generate social responses which are not always connected to reality.


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  Imagination, in the House!: Tales of Fantasy, the New Age, and..., by J Rainsnow.  This is a collection of short stories, written by me, which deals with New Age and fantasy themes, and pays special attention to the tension that exists between the world of spirituality and the heart, and the world of observable "reality" and the mind.  I hope it is both entertaining and stimulating.  For more information, see "Other Books By J Rainsnow" on this web site, or follow the above link to amazon.com.



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