Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
David Foster Wallace’s satirical take on a near future America is undoubtedly one of best novels of the past twenty-five years. It’s incredibly hard to summarise, on the basis that it covers just about everything in its length, from Canadian nationalism to tennis. With over 388 footnotes, some of which are pages long, it can make for punishing reading. But for those who choose to take up the challenge, it is an incredibly rewarding insight into how we live today. The author’s recent death only makes it more important to appreciate what he left behind, and his darkly comic magnum opus may be the perfect thing.
The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Sometimes the best comfort reading consists of things that actually happened. The ancient historian Suetonius’ famously colourful guide to the lives of the twelve Caesars entertains as well as informs, and its heady doses of political intrigue and drama should go down well with a post A Song of Ice and Fire audience. The world gets conquered, a city burns as a crazed emperor plays the harp, a donkey is made a senator. Like a thousand year old Vision, Suetonius never fails to deliver.
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
There is very little to say about this that hasn’t already been said. It’s one of the reference points for modern poetry as a whole, breaking from the conventions of time and formal structures. Though massive in America, Walt Whitman never really caught on here in any real way, which is very sad. Whitman’s impressionistic image of 18th century New York and heartfelt summoning of human feeling are unparalleled to this day. If this doesn’t particularly appeal to you, you’ll also be able to make lots of Breaking Bad references when you’re done. Why do you think he was called Walter White in the first place?