What One Book Would You Recommend?

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Mostly Books on Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia, PA. Photo via Christopher Pierznik
I love books. If I ever live alone again, I probably won’t have a living room or a bedroom, just a bathroom, kitchen, and a giant library, one full of leather-bound books that would smell of rich mahogany.

Right after I graduated business school, I felt I deserved a break, so my reading habits fell off. Almost immediately, I could tell that I was slipping a bit intellectually and in the way that I was thinking and processing things, so I decided to dive back in. With a vengeance. For a little over two years now, I have been curating a monthly reading review list, first on Tumblr and now as an e-mail newsletter.

As such, I’m always looking for new things to read and talking to people about books. The other day, I went a step further and asked people on Twitter and Facebook for one book that they would tell someone that they absolutely have to read.

Just one. One book. That’s all you get.

I didn’t put any restrictions on it and I promised that I wouldn’t judge the choices, even if I personally didn’t dig the book. It could be anything. It could be your favorite or it could be one that changed your outlook. It could be part of a series or a standalone work. It could be a children’s book, a YA novel or a dense tome. It could be a literary classic or something that came out last week.

Although I didn’t get as many responses as I had hoped, I did get quite a few, some from close friends that have been to my home recently, others from people that I know only digitally. It was a pretty cool cross-section of real and online life. They are as follows:

  • Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian (2000)
  • An Invisible Thread by Alex Tresniowski and Laura Schroff (2011)
  • Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick (2009)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (1861)
  • Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman (1980)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (2007)
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001)
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (2010)
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (2002)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

That’s a total of 13.

Of those, I have read five – Gatsby, Dunces, Unbroken, Mockingbird, and Alchemist. I kinda sorta read Great Expectations in high school, but I don’t count that because it was assigned and I was too young to appreciate it. Among the remaining seven, I own one – Oscar Wao – and my wife owns another – Trans-Sister Radio – but the rest I’ve only barely heard of or haven’t been exposed to at all, so I have some new stuff to add to my neverending book pile.

As far as my own choice? Like everyone else, I had several come to mind, including The Catcher in the Rye, On Writing, and Sapiens, but The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer is a book that literally changed my life and one that I recommend every chance I get.

Thank you, all, for your contributions. It was fun bookworming out with you guys. If you have your own recommendation that you’d like to make, please do so in the comments.


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, none of them nearly as successful as any of these, but all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Medium (just not in person).

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4 thoughts on “What One Book Would You Recommend?

  1. Hello!

    I would hands down recommend to you “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman. I know this is kind of an odd-ball for this sort of list, but I ended up learning so much from this book. It is jam-packed with mythology, human nature, and theological theory. Also, the TV series is coming out for it soon, so it could be fun to read and decide if you want to start a new show. Hope you enjoy! I am always on the lookout for good literature as well, so I wish you best in your quest.

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  2. I love The Catcher in the Rye, too! I read it about a year ago and found it really powerful. One of my favorite books is Wuthering Heights, but I’m not sure that I would recommend everyone to read it just because each book speaks to people in different ways. But I do love it!

    Like

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