While you stand in line for tickets to see Star Wars for the billionth time this summer, consider taking one of these literary gems along to keep your brain from liquifying under the onslaught of lightsabers and dazzling computer-generated special effects. We will begin work with these in the fall, so get cracking if you want to get ahead of the class. Those who cannot keep up will be sent to Siberia for reprocessing.
Henry Miller -- Tropic of Capricorn. If you don't know Miller, consider this fair warning. He never even owned a pair of kid gloves. Considered his finest, Tropic will turn your head inside out, and make you wonder how you ever could have thought you were really bitter.
Simon Winchester -- The Professor and The Madman. A touching story about how I first met Widgett. No, really, it's the story of the creation of the OED. And if you don't know what that is, get out. And don't come back until you look it up.
Pat Barker -- Regeneration. A British soldier gets tired of shooting people because of their accents, and declares himself a pacifist. For his troubles, he's shipped off to a clinic to be treated for his obviously shell-shocked insanity.
Robert A. Heinlein -- Job: A Comedy of Justice. One of Heinlein's greatest works, and a better indicator of what the man was capable of than his more commercially successful books. Perhaps if more people had known Heinlein's work, we could have prevented Starship Troopers from cinematic disaster.
Neil Gaiman -- Neverwhere. For anybody who ever felt disenfranchised. The Neil shows us what really happens when you slip through the cracks. And why so many that do decide to stay there.
Lao Tzu -- Tao Te Ching . The world would be a better place if more people had this book memorized. A staple of Eastern thought, it has plenty for you to bend your mind around.
James Morrow -- Towing Jehovah. Okay, God is dead and he's fallen into the sea. And the angels' dying wish is to have the carcass deposited in the frozen wastes so he can possibly be resuscitated later and...oh, just read the thing.
Jorge Luis Borges -- Ficciones. Ever wonder what the short story form could really accomplish if it tried? Look no further. Borges' stories shaped the future of Latin American fiction, and gained it the credibility it has today. And for those of you out there who aspire to write fiction, nothing else will give you more ideas or more insecurities about your skill.
Vladmir Nabokov -- Lolita. Any book that can cause scandal for fifty years deserves attention, and this one caused more than most. Three weeks to a better vocabulary, guaranteed.
Charles Simic -- Hotel Insomnia. Fellow traveller Simic presents a series of twisted visions brought on by one too many sleepless nights. A must for any serious SDI visitor.