The best non-sci-fi books that a sci-fi writer likes

Grant Carrington Author Of Down in the Barraque
By Grant Carrington

Who am I?

I was a computer programmer (BA and MA in math) for several organizations, including NASA and the Savannah River Ecology Lab before retirement, went to the Clarion and Tulane SF&F Workshops, and read the slush pile for Amazing/Fantastic. I’ve done a lot of theatre as actor and lighting tech, have always liked to hike in the woods, have written 11 novels (including 3 published SF novels), had 5 plays given full production, and have 2 CDs of my original songs. In my copious spare time, I sleep.


I wrote...

Down in the Barraque

By Grant Carrington,

Book cover of Down in the Barraque

What is my book about?

A group of young musicians wind up in possession of a device to be used on a starship and use it for their own purposes while authorities try to find out what happened to it and where it is.

The books I picked & why

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Siddhartha

By Hermann Hesse,

Book cover of Siddhartha

Why this book?

Siddhartha was my introduction to Buddhism back in the early 60s. I had to read it a few pages at a time then put it down while I digested what I was reading. As I got deeper in knowledge about Buddhism, I refused to read it again because I was afraid it would seem simplistic after Alan Watts and all those experts. I read it again finally last year and it seemed even richer as I felt I was experiencing Buddhism rather than reading about it. But that’s what a great writer like Hesse does with all his books.

Siddhartha

By Hermann Hesse,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Siddhartha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here the spirituality of the East and the West have met in a novel that enfigures deep human wisdom with a rich and colorful imagination.

Written in a prose of almost biblical simplicity and beauty, it is the story of a soul's long quest in search of he ultimate answer to the enigma of man's role on this earth. As a youth, the young Indian Siddhartha meets the Buddha but cannot be content with a disciple's role: he must work out his own destiny and solve his own doubt-a tortuous road that carries him through the sensuality of a love…

Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography

By Jim Tully,

Book cover of Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography

Why this book?

Tully was a best-selling author in the second and third decades of the twentieth century. Beggars of Life, his first book, is based on his experiences riding the freights as a young man. These are the kind of people I like to write about, though usually not as far down as Tully’s.

Beggars of Life: A Hobo Autobiography

By Jim Tully,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beggars of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jim Tully left his hometown of St. Marys, Ohio, in 1901, spending most of his teenage years in the company of hoboes. Drifting across the country as a “road kid,” he spent those years scrambling into boxcars, sleeping in hobo jungles, avoiding railroad cops, begging meals from back doors, and haunting public libraries. Tully crafted these memories into a dark and astonishing chronicle of the American underclass—especially in his second book, Beggars of Life, an autobiographical novel published in 1924. Tully saw it all, from a church baptism in the Mississippi River to election day in Chicago. And in Beggars…

Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story

By Oliver La Farge, Wanden Lafarge Gomez,

Book cover of Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story

Why this book?

LaFarge’s first novel, Laughing Boy, about the love affair between a reservation Indian and one who had been raised in a religious school, won the 1930 Pulitzer Prize. LaFarge spent much of his life fighting for Native American rights, sometimes in the “dark of Washington.” I wanted to grow up to be an Indian. I still do.

Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story

By Oliver La Farge, Wanden Lafarge Gomez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Laughing Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize: “A romantic idyll played out in the rhythms and meanings of a vanished Navajo world.” —The Denver Post

Laughing Boy is a model member of his tribe. Raised in old traditions, skilled in silver work, and known for his prowess in the wild horse races, he does the Navajos of T’o Tlakai proud. But times are changing. It is 1914, and the first car has just driven into their country. Then, Laughing Boy meets Slim Girl—and despite her “American” education and the warnings of his family, he gives in to desire and marries her.
 
As…

Darkness at Noon

By Arthur Koestler,

Book cover of Darkness at Noon

Why this book?

I read Darkness at Noon in my junior year of high school and got in a bit of trouble when our teacher wanted us to talk about the significance of the book and instead I went off on an essay based on the last two sentences of the book. Those sentences have stayed with me all my life and eventually inspired the last words of what I think is my best book. Unpublished. And not science fiction.

Darkness at Noon

By Arthur Koestler,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Darkness at Noon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The newly discovered lost text of Arthur Koestler’s modern masterpiece, Darkness at Noon—the haunting portrait of a revolutionary, imprisoned and tortured under totalitarian rule—is now restored and in a completely new translation.

Editor Michael Scammell and translator Philip Boehm bring us a brilliant novel, a remarkable discovery, and a new translation of an international classic.

In print continually since 1940, Darkness at Noon has been translated into over 30 languages and is both a stirring novel and a classic anti-fascist text. What makes its popularity and tenacity even more remarkable is that all existing versions of Darkness at Noon are…

You Can't Go Home Again

By Thomas Wolfe,

Book cover of You Can't Go Home Again

Why this book?

Being a New Englander, I don’t care much about Southern literature but Wolfe transcends it and also influenced Jack Kerouac, who would be my sixth choice. It was recommended to me by Joe Fineman, son of novelist Irving Fineman, after I flunked out of Caltech (Joe didn’t), saying “This is your book.” I have no idea who my influences are but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that they thought Thomas Wolfe was one of them. He probably is. 

You Can't Go Home Again

By Thomas Wolfe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Can't Go Home Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You Can't Go Home Again is a novel by Thomas Wolfe published posthumously in 1940. The novel tells the story of George Webber, a fledgling author, who writes a book that makes frequent references to his home town of Libya Hill. The book is a national success but the residents of the town, unhappy with what they view as Webber's distorted depiction of them, send the author menacing letters and death threats. (Wikipedia)

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Navajo, North Carolina, and Buddhism?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Navajo, North Carolina, and Buddhism.

The Navajo Explore 12 books about the Navajo
North Carolina Explore 72 books about North Carolina
Buddhism Explore 184 books about Buddhism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A Journal of the Plague Year, Walden, and The Art of Pilgrimage if you like this list.