Douglas Rushkoff is a syndicated columnist, NPR commentator, and adjunct professor of virtual culture in New York Universitys Interactive Telecommunications Program. His most recent book is Exit Strategy (iPublish.com, $15).
Cosmic Trigger Trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson (New Falcon Publications, $10 to $15 each). Wilsons journey through the chapel perilous of coincidence and paranoia is a mind-expanding, life-changing story. He is at once cosmically universal and shockingly intimate.
The Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy translated by Everett Fox (Schocken Books, $25). These are the foundation myths of a civilization, and when you read them youll find they say altogether different things from what we are taught. Foxs translation is poetic, yet stark, giving us some small hint about how these allegories were understood by those who heard them first.
Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan (MIT Press, $20). McLuhan helped me realize that everything is media. Not just TVs and radios but the zipper on your jacket and the air through which you sigh. If you dont understand media, you really cant understand anything.
Vurt by Jeff Noon (St. Martins Press, $14). This was the most fun Ive had reading a book; Noon has a fantastically original way of depicting fantasy worlds. Vurt is the first book I read that seems less written than it is painted. Noon is a sci-fi/fantasy writer for people who thought sci-fi was over.
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (Penguin USA, $8). For my money, the best novel that was ever written or will be written. It marks the height of form, dangling between those great Victorian novels and the modernist ones that were yet to come. Youre getting better than the best of Brontë or Dickens here, as well as a preview of Woolf and Joyce. This is the novel I try to emulate.
Battle for God by Karen Armstrong (Ballantine Books, $15). This book explains how fundamentalism began in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and why it continues to plague us in spite of our better instincts. Armstrong, a former nun, is honest and transparent-an insightful teacher on the often tragically misunderstood relationship between mythos and chronos.