the 50 book
#7. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig.
How did I reach the age of 35 without having read this at least once?
#8. The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry, by Brad Miner.
How did I make myself read this at all?
#9. Passage, by Connie Willis.
Any other author writing a 600-page novel on near-death experiences would stumble into the maudlin, the mystical, or the sloppily romantic. Willis is crisp, credible, hilarious, and sharp. This is one of my favorite novels in recent years.
#10. Unnatural Death, by Dorothy L. Sayers.
Popular literature from 80 years ago is undeniably stamped with the bigotries of the era, as ours will be if people are still reading Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace in 80 years. However, I can still access the cultural relativism microchip inserted during Anthro 101, so I can get past the assumption that [spoiler alert!] unmarried women who are passionately fond of each other are evil, and enjoy a ripping good story.