‘Todos los hombres, en el vertiginoso instante de coexistir, son el mismo hombre.’

~ Jorge Luis Borges, 1940


‘Away thou fondling motley humorist,
Leave me, and in this standing wooden chest,
Consorted with these few books, let me lye
In prison, and here be coffin’d, when I dye.’

~ John Donne, Satyre I, 1590


  • The New Oxford Shakespeare. Modern Critical Edition: The Complete Works by William Shakespeare; edited by Gary Taylor, John Jewett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan 1
  • The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne, especially ‘Satyre III,’ ‘A Nocturnal Upon S. Lucies Day,’ & I am a little world made cunningly2
  • The Lyrics: 1961 – 2012, and All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track of Bob Dylan 3
  • The Poems of T. S. Eliot Volume I (Faber Poetry); especially ‘Four Quartets’ & ‘The Waste Land’ 4
  • Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám of Naishápúr, translated by Edward FitzGerald
  • The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton 5; edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon
  • Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore; especially ‘Brahmā, Vişņu, Śiva,’ ‘Bride,’ and ‘Unending Love6
  • Chapman’s Homer 7: The Iliad, The Odyssey, and the Lesser Homerica; edited by Allardyce Nicoll
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh, Sha naqba īmuru; edited by Sîn-leqi-unninni, translated by Andrew George
  • Divina Commedia: Inferno; Purgatoria; Paradiso by Dante Alighieri, translated by Allen Mandelbaum
  • Rimbaud: The Complete Works, Selected Letters, especially Une Saison en Enfer’; translated by Wallace Fowlie
  • Charles Baudelaire Poésies: Édition bilingue, translated by John E. Tidball
  • The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides by Aeschylus; edited & translated by Robert Fagles
  • The Poems of Octavio Paz, translated by Eliot Weinberger
  • The Metamorphoses of Ovid, translated by Allen Mandelbaum
  • De Rerum Natura by Lucretius, translated by Alicia Stallings
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, especially ‘Eidolons’ and ‘Song of Myself
  • The Odes of Horace, translated by David Ferry
  • Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats, especially ‘Endymion’ and ‘Upon First Reading Chapman’s Homer
  • The Complete Poetry & Prose of William Blake; essays by David V. Erdman, Harold Bloom, and William Golding
  • A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems, and The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro by Fernando Pessoa
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Simon Armitage


  • The Trial, The Castle, Amerika: The Missing Person, translated based on restored text by Breon Mitchell, Mark Harmon; The Sons (The Judgment, The Stoker, The Metamorphosis), translated by Willa & Edwin Muir; Diaries (1910 – 1923) & Letters to Milena (The Schocken Kafka Library) by Franz Kafka
  • Notes from Underground 8 and The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, and A Moveable Feast; by Ernest Hemingway 9
  • Candide 10 by Voltaire; illustrated by Paul Klee & translated by Donald Frame, & ‘Le Mondain (The Man of the World, 1736)
  • The Aleph and Other Stories: 1933–1969, by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni; Collected Fictions, translated by Andrew Hurley, and The Craft of Verse (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures), edited by Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu
  • The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, edited by Brooks Atkinson
  • The Letters of Paul Cézanne 11 by Alex Danchev & Letters on Cézanne by Rainer Maria Rilke
  • In Search of Lost Time (Complete and Unabridged: Remembrance of Things Past, Volumes I – VI) by Marcel Proust
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and 1Q84; by Haruki Murakami
  • The Origin of Others (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) by Toni Morrison
  • My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
  • The Essays: A Selection by Michel De Montaigne
  • Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  • When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut
  • Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution by Carlo Rovelli
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow and Napoleon : A Life by Andrew Roberts
  • The Goldfinch: A Novel 12 by Donna Tartt


  • The Trial and Death of Socrates 13: Euthypro, Apology, Crito, death scene from Phaedo by Plato, translated by G. M. A. Grube
  • The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison
  • Selected Non-Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, especially the essays; The Nothingness of Personality,‘A New Refutation of Time,’ ‘From Someone to Nobody,’ & ‘Everything and Nothing,’ edited by Eliot Weinberger
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics by Immanuel Kant, translated by James W. Ellington
  • Oeuvres Complètes de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Volume 3 (Paris: Pléiade, 1964); translated & edited by Donald A. Cress
  • Common Sense: The Origin and Design of Government and The Thomas Paine Reader, edited by Michael Foot and Isaac Kramnick
  • Crowds & Power by Elias Canetti; I want to smash myself until I am whole, edited by Joshua Cohen, especially The Profession of the Poet’
  • Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is & The Joyous Science by Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Parergo and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated & edited by Sabine Roehr & Christopher Janaway
  • Francis Bacon ~ Logique de la sensation; ‘La Vue Le Texte’ by Gilles Deleuze, translated by Daniel W. Smith
  • A Short History of Decay & The Temptation to Exist, by E. M. Cioran, translated by Richard Howard; Foreword by Eugene Thacker
  • The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia, translated and edited by Brad Inwood and L. P. Gerson
  • Plague, The Stranger and Happy Death by Albert Camus
  • Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard
  • Nausea by Jean Paul-Sartre


  • Cézanne’s Les Grandes Baigneuses, Montagne Sainte-Victoire series 14, Still Life with Apples (1882), Portrait of Dominique Aubert
  • Cy Twombly’s Leda and the Swan 15, Untitled Painting [Say Goodbye, Catullus, to the Shores of Asia Minor], Fifty Days at Iliam
  • Diego Velázquez’ Las Meninas 16
  • Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, Study after Velázquez, Study of a Bull (1991) & Self-portraits
  • Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon 17; Marie-Thérèse series, especially Femme écrivant, Le Rêve, Nude Woman in a Red Armchair
  • Francisco José de Goya’s Los Caprichos & Pinturas negras; especially El Perro
  • Van Gogh: The Complete Paintings 18 by Ingo F. Walther and Rainer Metzger
  • René Magritte’s La Trahison des Images, Les mots et les images, Le faux miroir, Les Amants


  • Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp Minor 19, Gyeonggi Philharmonic Orchestra, Shi-Yeon Sung & Symphony No. 9, Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan
  • Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Symphony No. 6 in A Major, Berliner Philharmoniker
  • Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht, Op. 4; 5 Orchestral Pieces & Piano Works
  • Silence: Lectures & Writings by John Cage; especially Lecture on Nothing
  • Absolutely on Music: Conversations between Haruki Murakami & Seiji Ozawa
  • Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy by Theodor W. Adorno


  • Obelisk of Pharaohs Thutmose III & IV (2700 BCE), now The Lateran Obelisk outside Arcibasilica di San Giovanni in Laterano (324 A.D.)
  • Auguste Rodin’s La Porte de l’Enfer, especially Le Poète, The Walking Man (L’homme qui marche, 1877), Méditation or La Voix intérieure (pour Monument à Victor Hugo) & Iris, messagère des dieux
  • Antoni Gaudí‘s La Sagrada Família, Güell Pavillions & Casa Batlló (Barcelona)
  • Constantin Brâncuși’s Muse series (La muse endormie, 1910), Mlle Pogany, & Endless Column
  • Tadao Ando’s La Bourse De Commerce – Pinault Collection (Paris)
  • Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man II (1961) & L’Homme au doigt (1947)


  • Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer and Mexican Notebooks 1934–1964
  • Sebastião Salgado: Gold with Lélia Wanick


  • Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru 20, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Ran, Sanjuro & Yojimbo, High and Low, Stray Dog, and Red Beard
  • Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, and Devi
  • Buster Keaton’s The General, Sherlock Jr. and The Cameraman
  • Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, There Will Be Blood, & Phantom Thread
  • Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York; writer: Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Days of Heaven, Thin Red Line, and The New World
  • Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Interstellar & Memento; written by Jonathan Nolan
  • The Coen Brothers’ Fargo, Barton Fink, Miller’s Crossing, and Raising Arizona
  • Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle, Vivre Sa Vie, Bande à part, and A Woman is a Woman
  • Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, , and I Vitelloni 21
  • Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up, L’Avventura, La Notte, and L’Eclisse
  • Jordan Peele’s Get Out, Us, and Nope
  • Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather I, and The Godfather II
  • Sebastian Junger’s Restrepo and Korengal
  • Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Ars longa, vita brevis;
Occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile’ 22

~ Horace, ‘Ars Poetica,’ 1st Century BCE

  1. Shakespeare is everyone’s favorite mountain to scale. Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and Macbeth, remain favorites. I was looking for an annotated version of his entire works, and this is it. ↩︎
  2. John Donne’s lyrical prowess sits to my left on my office-desk. My go-to poet, when I need a pick-me-up or a put-down or a romantic interlude; just to swirl those words in my lips, and everything I say after, flows like rhyme. Donne’s never not done. ↩︎
  3. The reason I love verse, my favorite poet, Dylan. To hear one Dylan verse is to hear it all, but to hear it all is to see it afresh, and the whole world in a new light. Dylan is today’s Shakespeare. ↩︎
  4. The Waste Land is my favorite poem ever. I’ve never felt Stendhal’s Syndrome, but came close to an experience; when I read this on a beach, with my wife seated right next to me, casual Sunday joggers in front of me, the Pacific Ocean in all majesty behind them and the cliffs of Northern California to my right and left. Nature and Poetry is not for the faint of heart or of soul. ↩︎
  5. My mom’s favorite poem, I’ve heard of Paradise Lost throughout my childhood; to see it through my eyes without her prompting, feels better than reading it with my Mom. ↩︎
  6. Stole lines for my wedding vows, never used em; this might be the most spiritually romantic poem ever written. Even the translation from Bengali stands tall; Tagore is India’s literary Mount Everest. ↩︎
  7. Homer’s epic Odyssey was the theme of our wedding, which we placed around the Tyrrhenian Sea; followed by a honeymoon traversing Corfu, off the Ionian Sea, where Odysseus makes his last stand, a brief stop at Zeus’ ‘hometown’, all the way to Athens. Oh, to be in those shoes 3000-years ago… ↩︎
  8. This, along with T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp Minor, have the power to shock-and-awe in a way very few works of art might. Spell-binding tour-de-force, that will wake your soul from your slumber. Only Nietzsche comes close. ↩︎
  9. My (once; ’tis now Borges, 2023) favorite writer, Hemingway. My entire bachelor party revolved around his favorite haunts in Spain; from El Sobrino de Botin, Museo Chicote, Museo Nacional del Prado, Cervecería Alemana to La Venencia and in Pamplona: Gran Hotel La Perla, Café Iruña, and the Hostal Burguete where he spent time fishing in the Irati River. ↩︎
  10. Voltaire is the pinnacle of satire, Candide my favorite novella, and hasn’t been reached since. Everyone from George Carlin to Jon Stewart are in his debt. ↩︎
  11. My favorite painter, Cézanne. This one sits on my office-desk to my right to remind me of the mind of an artist, along with Cy Twombly | Making Past Present. ↩︎
  12. I read this grief-stricken; reminded me of my mother and what I miss & love about her. This novel tossed me into a Dickensian tale of finding one’s self. ↩︎
  13. When in Athens on our honeymoon, my wife and I, made a trek to his tomb overlooking the Acropolis, where Socrates was left to die. Wept tears reading this on the flight back home. I’d pair this with The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David to give you the look-and-feel, and seeing the real tomb is quite an effect. ↩︎
  14. No better way to learn technique of painting that the mountain Cézanne painted 75 times ↩︎
  15. A duet, if paired with W. B. Yeats’ poem with the same title. ↩︎
  16. Grand, gestural and alive; saw this at the Prado Museum, Picasso painted this 58 times in his estate La Californie. ↩︎
  17. Picasso’s homage to his mentor Cézanne’s Les Grandes Baigneuses painted three years prior ↩︎
  18. First saw his works at the Van Gogh Museum, a decade ago, in Amsterdam; and have been mesmerized since. The obvious ones, The Starry Night, Café Terrace at Night, especially the series with peasants, The Potato Eaters, and of course his self-portraits. This book captures it all. ↩︎
  19. My favorite composer, Mahler. Stumbled upon this masterpiece through Todd Field’s Tár, a movie that dissected this score in every possible way. Never left me, until I found the perfectly obscure conductor whose work has resonated since. ↩︎
  20. My favorite filmmaker, Kurosawa. The meaning of life captured in less than 3 hours; this along with Ray’s work in The Apu Trilogy and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal are all one needs to watch about life on this planet ↩︎
  21. Watched this movie, right before my bachelor party trip to Madrid & Pamplona, and later found threads from this movie find themselves in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, its spiritual sequel. Highly recommended for those wedding blues. ↩︎
  22. I’ve taken great pains to find the best possible translation given more than half the works here are besides English; Greek, Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish. More than half the gift of these recommendations are the editions themselves. “The art is long, life is short; opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.” ↩︎

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