Thomas Buckley list
Today I looked around and chose five, one (sic.) from each of five categories. This means leaving some important categories out - maritime history, religious texts, art books, reference. Here's what I've ended up with - books I think are essential, relatively new reading:
Poetry: Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End (1996) - the only replacement copy on the list (Maybe the first and so far only North American Buddhist Sutra)
Fiction: A tie (who says 5 is always 5?): William Kotzwinkle, The Bear Went Over the Mountain (1996) (har de har) and Chang rae Lee, A Gesture Life (1999) (oh boo hoo)
General non-fiction: E P Thompson, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law (1993) (Discover your inner Muggletonian)
Cultural anthropology ( my field) : Carol Delaney , Abraham on Trial: The social legacy of Biblical Myth (I always suspected Freud didn't get Oedipus quite right)
American Indian Studies (my specialty) Daniel K Richter, Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (2006) Nothing entirely new here, but a fine synthesis)
There you have it. Read these books, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, be astonished once in awhile, and you'll probably reach enlightenment as soon as anyone else.