From the London Telegraph, via Scott Berkun by way of Jim Bullock, there’s a list of the “Top 50 Cult Books”. They don’t offer a definition, but you get the gist of the type of book they’re looking for from the contents of the list. I would say a cult novel is one that enraptures you and inspires discussion among you and your friends for some period of time; one which encourages re-reading; one which gives additional insight upon subsequent readings; one that goes against the accepted grain, i.e. contains some sort of unusual/anarchist/futurist thought; and one that stimulates a change in behavior.
Scott Berkun mentioned “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card as a notable miss; other books I can think of that might have made this list include:
- Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
- Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
- The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho
- Molloy, Samuel Beckett
- The Stand, Steven King
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
- Ishmael, Daniel Quinn
- Neuromancer, William Gibson
- Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
- Getting Things Done, David Allen
- The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt
- The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer
What’s your favorite cult novel?