Cult Books

Again while attempting to put things away for my inevitable move to the new apartment, I find interesting things to distract me from my task at hand. This time it is an article printed on yellowing, recycled paper, on “Cult Books.”

An interesting article which first tries to define what cult books are, then lists novels accepted my most people as being “cult books.” I found the original article after doing a little research online.

So what exactly is a cult book? The article (and many other articles on the topic) tries to identify what makes a book a ‘cult’ classic. Cult books are books that shape individuals, even generations. They are books that changed and defined people’s views and lifestyles. Books become ‘cult classics’ even if they weren’t bestsellers back in the day, though everyone has heard of them.

While browsing online search results for cult books, these titles recur most frequently:

  • Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Alexandria Quartet – Lawrence Durrell
  • Catch-22 – Joseph Heller
  • The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  • The Celestine Prophecy – James Redfield
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert Pirsig
  • Siddhartha – Herman Hesse
  • The Stranger – Albert Camus
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach and Russell Munson

And so on…

I’m guessing that the list gave a clearer idea of what cult books are, as I’m sure many have read those books and can come up with their own list of favourite cult books.

This got me thinking about new cult books in the making – books that are defining the new generation. The Harry Potter series, perhaps, or Eat, Pray, Love or god forbid, Twilight? No one said a book needs to be great in order to become a cult classic.


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