The most influential book you have read in your subject
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I am getting my MSW (Social Work) and recently mine was The Spirit Catches you and You Fall Down. I had to read it for a class and I am glad that I did. It was packed with useful information as it followed the path of a young Hmong girl with a seizure disorder. It covered cross cultural stuff, child welfare, the health care system... it was great.
I can't really name one scholar who most influenced my critical thinking but I would thank Paul Cartledge and Simon Goldhill for writing books examining the zeitgeist of theory and explaining its modern relevance to a non-specialist audience.
Also Edmund Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution particularly for his concept of society as a contract between the living, the dead and those yet to be born, and his idea of the latent wisdom of the principle institutions that make up society.
Finally, Marx's essay 'On the Jewish Question' found in his Early Writings for his analysis of the estrangement between man’s political life and his material life.
Book Four of Augustine's The Trinity and Book Ten of his City of God have been helpful in terms of understanding atonement theology prior to the major stances on atonement.
G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy has taught me how to take myself less seriously.
Helmut Thielicke's A Little Exercise for Young Theologians has hopefully kept me humble.
And, finally, Stanley Hauerwas' The Hauerwas Reader has taken my theology and dumped it upside-down.
For me one of the most influential novels was actually a fiction book. Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven. I read it in high school and it got me on my current career track. Its the closeness with the land that people must achieve so they don't die out once all of society is torn away. Its very interesting.
But one I like from a stylistic viewpoint is Linda Young's Middle Class Culture in the Nineteenth Century because it's a mishmash of art history, history and cultural studies. I love books that break the rules.
I'm going to have to look into Lucifer's Hammer, one of the reviews said it was "Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, for adults, on a massive scale," and I LOVED Hatchet back in grade five.
it's amazing how people can actually pinpoint turns of thought, and sources of inspiration in books like this. who knew a person's life could change direction just like that?
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield is a great way to look at creativity and the tendency writers have to block themselves from success.
Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern is an excellent book on writing as craft. I'm teaching out of it in my section of "Introduction to Creative Writing" and my students really like it.
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera was the first novel I read in my program which really spoke to me on how far one can take writing craft.
#7 mrlanger, I heard Hauerwaus speak at my sem last year and he was excellent. I think he likes to ruffle feathers and does so with ease, but I was really fascinated by what he said. Is the reader worth it?
In my field, history, the lightning struck when I first read Michel-Rolph Trouillot's book Silencing the Past. Ever notice how the philosophers and theorists of history never seem able to do any history? Trouillot is an exception, and he can write. I've just gotten hold of his brief but thoughtful Global Transformations (which may not be on LT yet).
But I'll give a nod to Fullmoonblue -- Mimesis would be on my short list.
To get me into the field, it would have to be the Complete Shakespeare that my godfather gifted me with when I was 10.
Of the primary sources in my field -- I could easily work on Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and The Tempest forever and ever -- one at a time, two at a time, or all together.