All your favorite books

This list of “The Books That Changed Your Lives” at Lifehacker (via Mel) reminds me of this lyric from The Hold Steady‘s “Hot Fries”:

All your favorite books, they wouldn’t seem so well-written, if you were just a little more well-read.

Rand? Tolkien? Herbert? Card? Dawkins?  Adams? King?  *Rowling*, for chrissakes?  NB: I admire many of these writers.  I’ve read the four main Tolkien books hundreds of times–and we read The Lord of the Rings to the boy when he was in utero.  But “life-changing”?  *Really*?

Our university has a lovely tradition of inviting professors who’ve just been promoted or tenured to recommend a book for the library to purchase.  Usually, I think, the idea is to recommend a book that’s been influential in some way on your decision to become a professor, and you write a little paragraph or so nominating it.

Last year, when I was promoted, my recommendation was Civilization and Its Discontents; this year, for tenure, I’m torn between a Dickens (probably Bleak House or Oliver Twist?) or an Eliot (almost certainly Middlemarch), or the other Eliot (probably Four Quartets).

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