All the cool kids (by which I mean Patti Moss Vernam) have been listing off seven books they liked, so let's take a break from dumb jokes to talk books, if only so I can fondly reminisce about a medium I've mostly abandoned in preference to dank memes and roguelikes.
1. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Nowadays people only know this book from jokes about reviews of minstrel shows loosely inspired by stage shows based on pamphlets about the book. "Uncle Tom" has become an insult. But the book is a wonderful combination of adventure, melodrama, and unabashed political advocacy that I haven't seen anywhere else. It was a best-seller in its time, and it's easy to see why. That Charles Dickens's much less interesting books got rehabilitated from cheap popular fare to Literature™ whereas Uncle Tom's reputation has only gotten worse is one of the great injustices.
2. The Turn of the Screw. This concise ghost story keeps you on your toes and has the most shocking ending I've ever seen in a work of fiction.
3. The Power Broker. It's absolutely massive and yet it's a real page-turner. It can teach you a lot about the history of the early 20th century, especially the history of New York, but the biggest impression it made on me was its message that powerful people tend to become powerful by shaving off all their extraneous ideals and moral inhibitions in favor of the pursuit of power for its own sake.
4. The Origin of Species. Sure it's not exactly an up-to-date presentation of evolutionary biology, but it's brief and charmingly written (I hold that Darwin was the ultimate Victorian gentleman and I will fight you on this) and it makes its case well. It still feels relevant because most of the objections of modern-day young-earth creationists are described and answered in detail. Maybe that says more about creationism than the quality of this book, but there you have it.
5. The Wayside School books. This series of kids' chapter books from three decades is a rich vein of absurd humor with dozens of characters. I've gone back to these books many times and every time I've found a new joke I'd missed. The first one's the weakest, but there's a fourth one coming out in March 2020 and I'm totally pumped.
6. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain's most underrated novel offers a combination of humor, fantasy fiction, and adventures that range from thrilling to terrifying, plus some familiar social commentary. Sure T. H. White's Once and Future King has its strong points (and got the Disney adaptation), but Connecticut Yankee is more interesting than all four of those put together.
7. Driving Your Own Karma: Swami Beyondananda's Tour Guide to Enlightenment. This guy does a parody of contemporary mysticism that is no less effective for being written 30 years ago, and he has an almost supernatural talent for puns. Like, you read a bit and notice a lot of puns, and then you look closer and there's even *more* puns. It's puns all the way down.
I now arbitrarily decree that Randy Layne must do the same thing.