Michael Rips is the author of Pasquales Nose (Back Bay Books, $13), a memoir about his experiences living in a small Etruscan community in Italy.
Encyclopedia Britannica (supplemental volumes, 1926) (out of print). The optimism and brilliance of the 20th century is no more perfectly summarized than in these volumes, including essays by Freud (Psycho-analysis), Trotsky (Lenin); Bertrand Russell (Theory of Knowledge); Einstein (Space-Time); Niels Bohr (The Atom); Henry Ford (Mass Production); Bernard Baruch (Raw Materials); Harry Houdini (Conjuring); Roscoe Pound (Legal Education), Walter Lippmann. The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, with its six supplemental volumes (three published in 1922 and three more in 1926), is the only book that I cannot imagine being without. Consequently, it has accompanied me across continents. After 1926, the Britannica was completely rewritten; the new text, vulgarized and sanitized, contains little of interest, save Husserls essay on phenomenology (originally planned as a collaboration with Martin Heidegger).
Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority by Emmanuel Levinas (Duquesne University Press, $24). Levinas is a French philosopher who is too little read in the English-speaking world. Levinas insights have helped me in thinking about my father (the subject of my next book) and myself.
The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch (Vintage Books, $16). In its cadence, mood, and unremitting beauty, this is one of the great works of fiction. Along with Celine, Broch evokes in fiction what I first encountered in Being and Time, the fierceness, poetry, and philosophical importance of death.