1980-1983 (Ages 15-18)

No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Daniel Sugerman

A rollicking trip through the ’60s from the viewpoint of the eternally adolescent Jim Morrison.

1983-1987 (Ages 18-22)

North Dallas Forty by Peter Gent

Far better than the Nick Nolte, Mac Davis movie.  The biggest difference?  The movie takes place during the ’70s, the book is set during the ’60s, and includes a lot of racial issues and Vietnam as well as psychedelics.  The ending is hard to take, but I think it’s true to the time and place it’s set in.

1987-1990 (Ages 22-25)

On the Road, Desolation Angels, Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

On the Road is the classic first installment, with Desolation Angels a more mature exploration of similar themes, and Big Sur the necessarily depressing coda to a quest unfulfilled. I think Pete Townshend once said that being an alcoholic is like being on a spiritual quest except that you’re looking in the wrong place.

1991-1993 (Ages 26-28)

The Jamais Vu Papers by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin

There was very little like this around in 1991.  A non-linear romp.  The first place I ever saw someone connect the feeling of deja vu with having dreamed that situation before.

1993-1996 (Ages 28-31)

In the Absence of the Sacred by Jerry Mander

I was living in Westchester and bought this at the Barnes and Noble on Central Avenue.  Jerry Mander was born in 1936 and, as a boy, lived in southern Westchester near the Cross County Shopping Center when it was still farmland.

1996-2000 (Ages 32-35)

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

A great book.  Lots in there.  Like Orwell, I prefer his non-fiction.

2001-2005 (Ages 36-40)

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

I keep waiting for him to write something contemporary again.

2005-2008 (Ages 40-43)

True Hallucinations by Terrence McKenna

A masterpiece.  “…No notes exist from this period.”

Terence’s true gift is oral.  There is far more to listen to than there is to read.

Also sprinkled in a healthy dose of Ian Fleming, John D. McDonald, Carl Hiaasen, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Louise Erdrich, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, E.B. White.