Nice thread. I've always loved to read but have so little time for it, it's irritating. I've read 11 from your list, though, and about double that I would love to read.
Books that have made a big impression on me and that you might like to consider yourself:
1. Een schitterend ongeluk ("a magnificent accident"), Wim Kayzer. Book based on a Dutch TV-series of 3-hour interviews (in English) with the worlds' foremost minds in 7, I think, different fields (science, philosophy, psychiatry, biology and so on) answering the "Ultimate Question". The series finished with these 7 people (among them Oliver Sachs, Stephen Jay Gould and more luminaries) in 1 room debating the meaning of life. Truly one of the most epic things ever broadcast on TV. I have just done a search and it seems you can buy the DVD now. Wow, I can't wait to get my hands on that.
2. Miss Smilla's feeling for Snow. Peter Hoeg. Crime story set in Denmark and Greenland. Beautiful prose - too bad I can't read Danish.
3. Wild Swans, Jung Chang. About being in the Red Brigades in Mao's China.
4. The man who mistook his wife for a hat. Oliver Sachs (of "Awakenings" fame). Series of essays about Mr. Sachs patients who have extremely rare brain disorders. He writes so compassionately about them and their disorders are so fascinating, you see the beauty behind the tragedy.
5. The Discovery of Heaven (orginal title: De Ontdekking van de Hemel), Harry Mulisch. Epic work worthy of the Nobel prize.
6. A small history of everything, Bill Bryson. Sheer entertainment if you have an enquiring mind.
7. A brief history of time, Stephen Hawking. Every couple of years I like to try and convince myself I could have been a physicist. I love this book except for the chapter on quantum mechanics. Best to borrow another book for that as Stephen tries to prove QM by making his words act like electrons: the closer you get to the meaning, the less likely you are to understand it....
8. I Claudius and Claudius the God, Robert Graves. I read these, no matter what, every couple of years. I'm fascinated with the Augustan period of Roman history but it's particularly the quality of writing and research that makes this book stand out. The BBC television series was also brilliant. If you ever go to Rome, read these books just before you go. To stand in Tiberius' house knowing what he did there, is a special experience indeed....
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