The Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein
-This book took a new twist in the Alien Invasion Theme, especially for its time. In this novel its up to a group of American secret agents to stop an alien invasion of the US by alien parasites. The narrative is much different from Heinlein’s other novels in the book is mostly action rather than a study of his personal philosophy.
War Trash by Ha Jin
-This beautifully written novel by Chinese-American novelist Ha Jin takes a different look at the Korean War of the 1950s. The story is about a Peoples Liberation Army Officer who gets captured by UN Forces and becomes a prisoner of war. This book gives a fresh breath to the over-used POW theme in many army novels in that it gives a sympathetic look at the way we treated our enemy POWs. It also gives a good account of one of the most forgotten wars of the 20th Century.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John K. Toole
-This is one of the few actually comedic books I have read in recent memory. It takes place in New Orleans during the 1950s and paints a beautiful picture of the city. It is made up of numerous short stories that show a wonderful melange of characters, however, it mostly focuses on the character Ignatius Jacques Reilly. Reilly is a disgustingly slovenly mama’s boy who just sits in his room and complains about the world at large, while aching for the feudal world of the Middle Ages. It’s a beautifully written book and I eagerly suggest it.
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
-This book is the fictional memoir of one of the few actually good Julian Emperors of Rome, Claudius. It is a book high in ancient political intrigue and palace gossip that tells the story of Rome’s final fall into empire. The main character, as mentioned above, is Claudius Caesar. Claudius is the “fool” of his family with a stutter and a massive twitch. Despite these so called defects and the horrific ridicule of his family he emerges as one of Rome’s finest emperors. The book also inspired a massively successful mini-series on the BBC.