December 16th, 2013

sidelit

cult books list

(I got this from the_siobhan and am shamelessly stealing her lead-in)

The Telegraph published a list of the 50 best cult books. They don't really define "cult" other than to say they know it when they see it.

In response, Nisi Shawl and Nin Harris created an alternative and suplimentary list of
Best Cult Books
. Nisi provides the following definition for the books she chose;

Cult books are, by my definition, books that introduce the reader to a culture, a group of people who share values delineated by the book. Such books may be big seller or underground hits passed along via loans, but they have an impact beyond that of run-of-the-mill works. And they draw people in rather than merely preaching to the choir: they convert readers into believers.

They also provide their reasons for including each book, so check out the list on their blog if you're trying to figure out why a specific book is on the list.

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I've bolded the ones I have read, and italicized the ones that had been on my want-to-read list before seeing these lists; that list will inevitably grow as a result of Nisi & Nin's list, though perhaps not the other. With occasional comments.
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I am surprised by how many of the things on this list I know I have read but have almost no memory of; apparently I was not destined to join those cults.

The two books that had a "cult" impact on me, as a set, really, that aren't on either of these lists are the Principia Discordia and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy, the latter of which I read straight through over two days while feverish, which made it EVEN MORE MIND BLOWING.