The best books that shift our perception of reality

Who am I?

In my senior year of high school I had an experience that shifted my view of Life, the Universe, and Everything—and that experience cracked open both my interior and exterior worlds, taking me to extraordinary inner spaces and to the feet of a great spiritual master in India. I cherish stories that can look at the (apparently) mundane and find the glistening jewels of spirit hidden beneath, just as I treasure stories that use the tropes of fantasy to open our eyes to the universe’s sacred wonders. All the books on this list have done that for me. 


I wrote...

The Excavator

By J.M. DeMatteis,

Book cover of The Excavator

What is my book about?

Sandra Rosen awakens to find a mysterious boy standing at the foot of her bed. It is, she soon discovers, her son Henry. But she has no memory of his existence. A mind-hacker has excavated her psyche with surgical precision and now demands a ransom to replace the priceless memories he’s stolen.

The books I picked & why

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Dandelion Wine

By Ray Bradbury,

Book cover of Dandelion Wine

Why this book?

Dandelion Wine, the tale of a single Illinois summer in the life of young Douglas Spaulding, is one of the most glorious and magical books ever written. Reading it is an experience that stills the Naysaying Voices that constantly seek to tell us that we're small and helpless, ordinary and afraid—and opens our hearts and minds to a deeper reality: one where life is sacred, creativity is an expression of pure delight and the universe is viewed with eyes of innocence and wonder.

Dandelion Wine

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Dandelion Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dandelion Wine is a 1957 semi-autobiographical novel by Ray Bradbury, taking place in the summer of 1928 in the fictional town of Green Town, Illinois — a pseudonym for Bradbury's childhood home of Waukegan, Illinois. The novel developed from the short story "Dandelion Wine" which appeared in the June 1953 issue of Gourmet magazine.

Ubik

By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of Ubik

Why this book?

PKD is the master of stripping away the veils of the so-called real world and uncovering the wonders of the Reality that lies beneath—and Ubik is my favorite of his novels. Reading PKD is like ingesting a mind-expanding drug. You’ll want to touch the wall after consuming Ubik, just to make sure the room you’re in is solid and actually there. Questioning the nature of what we assume to be real, as PKD does so well, can lead us to truly transcendent levels of Reality.

Ubik

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic science fiction tale of artifical worlds by one of the great American writers of the 20th century

Glen Runciter is dead.

Or is he?

Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out.

If it hasn't already.

Readers minds have been blown by Ubik:

'Sheer craziness, a book defying any straightforward synopsis . . . a unique time travel adventure…

Franny and Zooey

By J.D. Salinger,

Book cover of Franny and Zooey

Why this book?

Catcher in the Rye gets all the love, but, for me, Franny and Zooey is J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece. I was immediately hooked by his rich characters, his flowing language, his extraordinary ear for dialogue, his effortless ability as a storyteller. His compassion most of all. These two interweaving tales of the Glass family settled into my soul and left an imprint that has never gone away. In the finale, Buddy Glass’s classic tale of Salinger’s “Fat Lady” just might alter your view of the universe, and of yourself, as surely as it did Franny’s.  

Franny and Zooey

By J.D. Salinger,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Franny and Zooey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Perhaps the best book by the foremost stylist of his generation" (New York Times), J. D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey collects two works of fiction about the Glass family originally published in The New Yorker.

"Everything everybody does is so--I don't know--not wrong, or even mean, or even stupid necessarily. But just so tiny and meaningless and--sad-making. And the worst part is, if you go bohemian or something crazy like that, you're conforming just as much only in a different way."

A novel in two halves, Franny and Zooey brilliantly captures the emotional strains and traumas of entering adulthood. It…

Siddhartha

By Hermann Hesse,

Book cover of Siddhartha

Why this book?

I was sixteen when I first read Siddhartha and knew little to nothing about Eastern mysticism, but I was immediately enchanted by Hesse’s classic tale of a spiritual seeker in the days of the Buddha. By the time I was done, I felt like Siddhartha himself, sitting by the river, my soul quickened, my heart widened, as I connected to Something Bigger and Wiser than my limited self. I’ve returned to this book multiple times over the years and it never fails to elicit the same response. 

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…

Lost Horizon

By James Hilton,

Book cover of Lost Horizon

Why this book?

I was on a spiritual retreat when I found an old, dusty copy of Lost Horizon in the retreat’s library. Some of this book is surely dated—having a Christian monk as the head of a Tibetan nirvana hasn’t aged well—but the heart and soul of James Hilton’s tale of a world gone mad and one man’s discovery of a hidden paradise feels more relevant than ever. We’re all looking for Shangri-La, for the hidden paradise in our own hearts, and Hilton, through his compelling, heartfelt story, points the way.

Lost Horizon

By James Hilton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Classic James Hilton tale of the enchanted Shangri-La.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Illinois, New York State, and the Himalayas?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Illinois, New York State, and the Himalayas.

Illinois Explore 67 books about Illinois
New York State Explore 456 books about New York State
The Himalayas Explore 25 books about the Himalayas

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Walden, The Art of Pilgrimage, and As a Man Thinketh if you like this list.