View Full Version : The 50 Best Cult Books

05-07-2008, 04:50 PM
Just got this link in my Utne Reader newsletter and thought it was a fun read. A couple of teaser snippets, first from Utne:

Calling a book a “cult novel” doesn’t mean that it’s a great read. In fact, cult novels are sometimes infuriatingly bad. What makes a cult novel is the devotion of its fans. The British newspaper Telegraph recently published a list of the 50 best cult books of all time. There are some great books, including Catch-22 and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and some notable exclusions, from Paul Coehlo’s the Alchemist to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. At a minimum, the list is worth a read, for memories of books past or ones you should put on your to-read list.

And from The Telegraph:

Our critics present a selection of history's most notable cult writing. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula "<Author Name> whacko"; books our children just won’t get…

The list and full article here. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/04/26/nosplit/boanotherlist126.xml)

How many are you willing to admit you've read? My list was a bit longer than I'd care to admit, and I still own a good share of them, you know, just in case I have a burning desire to read Jonathon Livingston Seagull...again. :rolleyes:

05-07-2008, 06:29 PM
What a great list!! I have read several of them - some of them for school. In high school French class, we read L'Etranger in French. Of course, many of us were also reading The Stranger in English class at the same time!!! So we cheated a bit to get the content.

I have printed it out to peruse it in more detail.... :D

05-07-2008, 07:27 PM
Okay, I've read some of them.

05-07-2008, 07:34 PM
Just 2. Dune and L'Etranger. One of which I understood, the other it wouldn't have mattered what language it was in....

05-07-2008, 07:59 PM
That is an eclectic list for sure. I've read nine on the list, but would only recommend five of the nine, which I've starred.

The Catcher in the Rye*
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy*
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
The Prophet
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám
To Kill a Mockingbird*

05-07-2008, 08:19 PM
I've read 10.

My favorite of them, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Not on the list; but should be: Tao of Pooh.

05-07-2008, 09:24 PM
The proof of the pudding is in the comments as people rise to defend their books.

05-07-2008, 09:44 PM
I almost feel embarrassed to admit I've read 22 of them. :huh:

I was pretty surprised to see Camus and Nietzsche on there. I think I went through that "phase" at about age 16. The more depressing and obscure in thought, the better at that age.

I last read Catcher in the Rye again maybe only 5 years ago. As a teen I found it gripping. As a middle aged adult? Somewhat irritating at best. :rolleyes:

05-08-2008, 07:03 AM
Well as I was going through the list I stopped counting but I know I've read at least 15. Can I use the fact that I'm a voracious reader as an excuse?

05-08-2008, 07:09 AM
Why would anyone need an excuse about reading voraciously. Many (I most definitely can't say all or even most due to my personal opinion of some of them, such as Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health.) of the books are "classics." I would have read more of them myself, except they aren't particularly interesting to me. I prefer other areas of literature than most of these books represent.

Well as I was going through the list I stopped counting but I know I've read at least 15. Can I use the fact that I'm a voracious reader as an excuse?

05-11-2008, 10:50 PM
I probably reread John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces about every 5 years or so. I still find it one of the funniest books that I've ever read.

07-16-2008, 11:58 AM
Rampo - I love A Confederacy of Dunces, too.

I didn't count how many on the list that I'd read, but I've read lots of them. Like the article says, some of them would never make the list now because they are so ridiculous...or something. As I was reading the list, some popped into my head that should have been on the list but weren't - stuff you read because someone recommended it. You read it thinking "why did I take a book recommendation from this person?" And the next thing you know everyone in every airport has a copy of it and there's a major motion picture being made of it.

I've been known to throw away a book if it has been a big disappointment. More often though I just bag it up with some others and donate them. I have to be pretty mad to throw a book away. ;) I left one in the trash can at the Ritz Carlton in Maui and vowed never to read the author again. So far, so good.

07-16-2008, 01:36 PM
I've read 22 and attempted three others. I'm not certain I would call them cult books, rather good literature that is something other than popular fiction.