Josh's Awesome Canon

by: Joshua Mahan

The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is on my canon because it was the first book I was really fascinated with. I first read it when I was in middle school and I found myself constantly wanting to know more about the beautiful world Tolkien had crafted. Another reason it has a spot on my list is because it is the first book that got me interested into fantasy. I wanted to read everything that was like The Hobbit. I eventually found myself interested in medieval history and everything in between. All thanks to Tolkien's The Hobbit.

Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan's Pale Blue Dot is placed on my list because it is responsible for getting me interested in science outside of the classroom. As I read this magnum opus, I found myself wanting to learn about the universe, and our (humanities) place in it. Without Sagan's book, I do not believe I would be as fascinated or up to date on the recent advances and discoveries in science, and our understanding of the universe.

The Long Hard Road Out of Hell

I have included the autobiography of Marilyn Manson on my canon because of it's fascinating concepts it contains. It follows Manson's life from childhood to his Dead to the World tour. Through the autobiography Manson discusses topics such as his grandfather's sexuality and his drug fueled antics while writing the album Antichrist Superstar. Manson also talks about his world view, religion, and philosophy. Together these topics form an interesting and appealing work.
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The Giver

I've included Lois Lowry's The Giver as the story pushes this huge concept on the reader, and you find yourself struggling and wondering, just like Jonas does in the book. The Giver reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's short story "2BR02B" in which the "utopian" society turns out to be dystopian. Both these stories wrestle with the idea of perfection, but at what cost of the people? These ideas and concepts are quite interesting and I think it is a great read that can really get you thinking.
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God Is Not Great

Christopher Hitchen's take on mainstream religion, and it's affects, is placed on my canon because it spins a narrative that is uncommon to most Americans. Hitchen dissects the two major religions, Christianity and Islam. Although Hitchens may seem over hostile towards these religions, he never the less makes great points. Hitchen discusses interesting ideas and concepts in his book God Is Not Great alot of these concepts I find interesting and compelling, which is why it is found on my canon.
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Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

After coming down from the high J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit gave me, I found myself looking for another fix. J.K. Rowling's first installment in the Harry Potter series delivered. I found myself plunged into a fascinating world full of delightful characters. I've placed The Philosopher's Stone one my list because it kept the flame, that was my love of fantasy, burning bright and stronger than ever.
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The horribly beautiful world George Orwell crafts in 1984 is one of the most important books I have read. Orwell's 1984 stays in constant relevance as it is referenced in politics, movies, tv, and more. Orwell's magnus opus is placed on my personal canon for its relevance and its concepts and ideas it shows. We find the dystopian world becoming more and more similar to our current world. This being so, I find it important to read and understand to be more political savvy, which is something important to me.
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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein delivers amazingly interesting concepts and delivers a fascinating story. Reading this masterpiece had me thinking and wrestling with concepts such as man v. nature and humanities choices, whether to do something just because we can. I think Shelley's Frankenstein holds relevance into today's world and brings about great discussion which I find fascinating, which is why I placed it on my list.
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Very Hungry Caterpillar

Eric Carle's A Very Hungry Caterpillar is placed on my personal canon because it might have been the first book I independently read. A Very Hungry Caterpillar was the gateway to the world of literature. This book may have placed me on a literary path that would have been altered if I had read another children's book. A Very Hungry Caterpillar also brought me joy. That book shaped my love of reading, which is why it is important to me.
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William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is found on my personal canon because of its fascinating concepts it holds and the joy I received from reading it. Concepts such as family and internal struggle riddle Shakespeare's play. The internal conflict Hamlet faces throughout the play become relatable and thus "Hamlet" speaks to individuals in similar and different ways, which makes the play personal yet all consuming.
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