100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
I-S Magazine’s definitive media list.

By Michele Koh | Oct 30, 2008

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  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Charles Bukowski - Factotum
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Farewell My Concubine
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    1984 by George Orwell
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Eraserhead
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Dogma
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Erotica - Madonna
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Kraftwerk
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Purple Rain - Prince
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Pavement
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Natural Born Killers: A Soundtrack for an Oliver Stone
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    M.I.A
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Jeff Buckely
  • 100 albums, films & books you must check out before you die.
    Liz Phair

Much has been said and written about the best films, albums and books out there, so just what makes our list so goddamn special? Well, we’ll tell you what our list is NOT. It’s not a list of “profound” classics that your university lecturer or snobby Ivy League grad friend told you to read. It’s not a list that your parents will necessarily approve of. It won’t make you seem more cultured than you really are, and it’s not a list of Man Booker Prize, Oscar or Grammy winners (even though some may be). What it is, is a round-up of sometimes disturbing, sometimes confounding, sometimes bizarre and often emotionally rousing stuff that we love. So you should check it out because we’re a hard bunch to please here at I-S Magazine; and if these films, albums and books meet up to our standards of unique kick-assedness, then they should be important enough for you to get your paws on before you die.

THE ESSENTIAL 50
(in alphabetical order)

Book: 1984—George Orwell (1949)
We all know Orwell’s classic dystopian novel that envisions a future society where masses (and the individual) are subjugated.
Why read: Read it to find parallels to present day society, and marvel at how prophetic Orwell was.

Album: Appetite for Destruction—Guns N’ Roses (1987)
Five skanky anorexic hard-living bad boys pounding rock from the abysses of its bleak ‘80s days. This was GNR at its ass-kicking stadium rock raunchy best.
Why listen: How can we forget the shrieks of the bandana-wearing frontman Axl in “Welcome to the Jungle” and Slash’s legendary solo on “Sweet Child O’Mine.”

Film: Arular—M.I.A. (2005)
M.I.A’s Arular, aptly named after her rebel father’s codename in the Tamil Tigers, featured gritty tunes penned by herself, and was based on personal experiences of growing up as a Sri Lankan immigrant in England as well as acute observations on contemporary life.
Why watch: The disparate musical tableau of dancehall, jungle, grime, electronica, hip-hop, punk and Indian music is wonderfully pieced together.

Book: The Buddha of the Suburbia—Hanif Kureishi (1990)
Along with a hearty dose of smut, Kureishi gives a rib-tickling, rip-roaring account of 1970s London, where the half-English, half-Indian narrator Karim dabbles in soft drugs, punk music and philosophy.
Why read: Not just a coming-of-age story of a young man, it is also a compelling read about growing up in multi-ethnic ‘70s London.

Book: Coin Locker Babies—Ryu Murakami (1995)
This stylish dystopic novel about two abandoned babies in train station lockers who grow up to become a bisexual rock star and champion pole vaulter is one rollicking good read.
Why read: This is arguably the magnum opus for great cyberpunk fiction which certainly deserves a wider audience than it currently has.

Film: Days of Being Wild (1990)
This debut Wong Kar Wai film about a bunch of wayward and disillusioned souls living during the ‘60s, stands the test of time. It’s indie Hong Kong cinema at its very best and boasts an stellar cast of young Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung and Carina Lau.
Why watch: Nostalgia and disenchantment never looked so good, with the help of master cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

Film: A Dirty Shame (2004)
This audacious film by John Waters (the original Hairspray, Pink Flamingos) must be seen to be believed. About a bunch of sex addicts who discover their true calling to live it out loud and proud, this is Waters’ most ambitious and OTT film to date.
Why watch: The hilarious cast of Tracey Ullman, Johnny Knoxville and Selma Blair (the latter in prosthetic Triple F-cupped tits) will have you laughing your ass off.

Film: Dogma (1999)
While not as popular as 1994’s Clerks, Kevin Smith’s highly controversial satire about Gods, angels and devils is deliriously outrageous. Smith’s trademark foul-mouthed frat boy humor combined with a decent Hollywood budget gave us one of the most original and daring films ever.
Why watch: It’s one of the few films that dares to be politically incorrect about religion.

Film: Donnie Darko (2001)
Debut film director Richard Kelly’s strange film is apparently about the apocalypse, but we see it more as an engrossing coming-of-age tale and comment on modern ills that comes replete with a great young cast and a visionary narrative.
Why watch: The iconic giant bunny character in the film has become a fixture in modern pop culture.

Album: Entertainment!—Gang of Four (1979)
This Leeds-based quartet never shied away from etching their radical anti-capitalist politics on their dancey punk-funk music. This 1979 debut under a big label was way ahead of its time, and happened long before Rage Against The Machine spouted left rhetoric with financial backing from a media behemoth.
Why listen: An influential album that is responsible for the recent revival of indie dance punk acts like Franz Ferdinand and The Rapture. An education in leftism won’t be more entertaining than this 45-minute album.

Film: Eraserhead (1977)
Master of macabre David Lynch’s debut film is still one of his best. Raw, perplexing and bizarre, the film is a nightmarish descent into madness—femme fatales, illogical scenes and dialogues, and an alien baby—it’s all here.
Why watch: Too weird and brilliant to pass, you can’t miss it.

Album: Erotica—Madonna (1992)
Music critics swear by Madonna’s Like a Prayer and Ray of Light, but it’s her underrated 1992 release Erotica that rocks our boat. The grinding dance beats here still sound fresh today, produced by the great Shep Pettibone (Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys). This is a landmark album that was way ahead of its time, like all good things in life.
Why listen: This is Madonna at her naughtiest, ever.

Album: Exile in Guyville—Liz Phair (1993)
Before there was Alanis Morissette and her Grammy-winning man-hating rock tunes, Liz Phair was already doing her thing a few good years ahead—and better, too. This is a lo-fi masterpiece where American Phair just lets it rip, no holds barred.
Why listen: Hear Phair at her edgiest before she became the sellout commercial pop artist that she is today.

Book: Factotum—Charles Bukowski (1975)
Experience the squalor as Bukowski’s altar-ego Hank Chinaski meanders through a sequence of 19 menial jobs. Simply written, honest and unapologetically un-PC.
Why read: Bukowski is a must-read author, and he is at his grittiest here.

Film: Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Before he made really lousy films, China’s Chen Kaige was lauded for this Palme d’Or winning film at the Cannes Film Festival. This visually stunning opus centers on the complex relationship between two male opera singers and the woman that came between them—starring Gong Li and the late Leslie Cheung.
Why watch: Complex, thorough and compelling in its attempt to showcase themes like homosexuality, betrayal, friendship and politics.

Album: Grace—Jeff Buckley (1994)
Jeff’s Buckley’s first and only studio album (he died in 1997, aged 30) is a classy effort spanning folk, soft rock and bluesy tunes. Particularly beautiful is his remarkable rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” while “Eternal Life” is another standout track.
Why listen: To marvel at such effortless genius; and because this is a wonderfully joyous, atmospheric album, suitable for all moments in life.

Album: Gran Turismo—The Cardigans (1998)
Everyone loves their playful and silly pop tunes like “Lovefool,” but it’s The Cardigans’ trip hop meets guitar rock release Gran Turismo that shows the group at their most original and experimental, turning guitar jams into dance-worthy beats—ingenious.
Why listen: Opening track “Paralyzed” will simply blow your mind.

Film: The Idiots (1998)
Join Dutch director Lars von Trier (Dogville) and his band of naked actors pretend to be retarded in their quest to look for happiness. A thoughtful, compelling and deep exploration of the human condition, The Idiots is that rarity of a film that manages to offend and inspire in equal measures.
Why watch: To experience a tearjerker that is remarkably enlightening.

Book: If We Dream Too Long—Goh Poh Seng (1972)
One of the first Singaporean novels written in English, this book chronicles the coming-of-age of a protagonist struggling to deal with the rapid industrialization of post independent Singapore.
Why read: Its elegant, unfussy prose offers a rare peek into what it was like being a young adult in ‘70s Singapore.

Book: Is that It?—Bob Geldof (1986)
Sir Bob, as the author is fondly known, recounts his youth in Ireland with his trademark dry wit before touching on how he went on to launch the Live Aid movement in 1985.
Why read: You’ll be able to get right under the skin of one of the world’s most beloved musicians and oddballs.

Album: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison—Johnny Cash (1968)
The reborn Johnny Cash battled his drug addictions and released one of the most intense live performance albums in country music. Recorded live at Folsom Prison with an audience of about 2,000 inmates and wardens, this was Cash at his best.
Why listen: You will be a better person having listened to the wise, raspy bourbon jangled vocals of Johnny Cash vividly describing tales of redemption in this landmark album.

Book: Kitchen—Banana Yoshimoto (1988)
Kitchen may be divided into two separate stories—of a young woman dealing with the loss of her grandmother, and another about the loss of a lover; but the themes of mortality, isolation, relationships and food form a singular thread through the book.
Why read: A short, “one-sitting” book that possesses enough to move and provoke.

Book: Lost Cosmonaut: Travels to the Republics that Tourism Forgot—Daniel Kalder (2006)
Have you heard of far flung magical lands such as Mari El, Kalmykia, Tatarstan and Udmurtia? Probably not, but the founder of the anti-tourist movement Kalder will introduce you to these long forgotten dreary Russian states and their eccentric inhabitants with his characteristic mordant wit.
Why read: This is one of the funniest travelogues ever written and a must read for all armchair traveliterati who are bored by Lonely Planet styled travel guides.

Film: Lost in Translation (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s contemporary mood drama set in Tokyo succinctly captures disaffectedness set against gorgeous cinematography, a great soundtrack and a very funny Oscar-nominated performance by Bill Murray. The chemistry between Murray and actress Scarlett Johansson is pure magic.
Why watch: The ending where Murray and Johansson exchange their last goodbye is what movie moments are made of.

Album: The Man-Machine—Kraftwerk (1978)
This landmark album revolutionized the use of analog synths—shaping dance music as it is today.
Why listen: Two of the tunes here—“The Model” and “Neon Lights”—feature some of the catchiest melodies in pop music history.

Film: Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Being a dork became cool with this film. Replete with a laugh-out-loud ‘80s soundtrack, Napoleon Dynamite centers on a bunch of losers trying to be popular in school. Comedian Jon Heder is brilliant in the titular role—and the bit where he dances to Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat”—is priceless.
Why watch: To find out what geek chic is all about.

Album: Natural Born Killers: A Soundtrack for an Oliver Stone Film—Various Artists (1994)
Featuring the best of contemporary and classic Americana—this soundtrack is a thought-provoking sojourn into the darker side of the human psyche—compiled by Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor. So expect nothing less than quality tracks here.
Why listen: For a dose of the darkest and best tracks from Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Jane’s Addiction and Leonard Cohen—interspersed by great dialogue from the film.

Book: Night—Elie Wiesel (1955)
Elie Wiesel’s horrific autobiographical tale of spending part of his childhood in the Auschwitz concentration camp is one of the most visceral accounts of the Nazi era. Gut wrenching and bitterly sad.
Why read: Probably the most definitive piece of Holocaust literature after Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl.

Book: No One Belongs Here More than You—Miranda July (2007)
This collection of short stories seamlessly evoke disconsolate ordinary souls who are escaping their tedious existence through fantasy worlds.
Why read: The American literary scene has always been a hotbed for some of the greatest and most innovative short story writers, and July continues that fine tradition.

Album: Odelay—Beck (1996)
Much of dance and hip-hop music today is influenced by this genre-bending album—featuring countless samples from the likes of obscure jazz tunes, blues, Bob Dylan, hip hop and the Beatles. Tremendous.
Why listen: Odelay’s groovy collage of sound proved to be a prediction of the future of music as we know it.

Album: Off the Wall—Michael Jackson (1979)
Before the skin bleaching and pedophilia allegations, black MJ simply swooned into our hearts with Off the Wall, one of the greatest R&B records ever made by the Prince of Pop. Helmed by jazz-funk production icon Quincy Jones, the album is a heady stew of disco beats, cutting edge funk, catchy pop hooks and poignant balladry and an important milestone in the history of R&B.
Why listen: How can anyone resist the charm of the bouncy dance favorite “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough”?

Film: Paranoid Park (2007)
Skateboard culture is cool, but non cooler than this Gus Van Sant slow-burner about a skateboarder who accidentally killed a security guard during a break-in. The film centers on the psychological aspect of guilt, ingeniously mixing sound art and classical music with effortless, free-flowing cinematography by Christopher Doyle.
Why watch: It’s a visual and aural treat unlike any other.

Album: Purple Rain—Prince & The Revolution (1984)
Mixing a hodgepodge of funk, country, electro, pop, rock, soul and R&B, Prince spawned this musical juggernaut that told his quasi-autobiographical tale of a poor alienated youth who sought redemption in music.
Why listen: This is simply a timeless album from an artist (we can forgive the ever changing monikers) at his zenith. His screaming intensity on the end of “The Beautiful Ones” has never been replicated.

 

Album: The Rebirth of Cool Phive—Various Artists (1995)
Dance compilations can be hit-and-miss, but this contemporary urban mix features the best of the best in the trip hop music that was definitive in the dance music scene in the ‘90s.
Why listen: Catch Massive Attack, Portishead, Beastie Boys, Tricky, Paul Weller, Coldcut and many more all in one album.

Book: The Road—Cormac MaCarthy (2006)
Set in post apocalypse America, a father and son journey across a ravaged continent fending off cannibals and feral gangs in a searing, misery-strewn tale that is laced with moments of poignant beauty and tenderness.
Why read: Ten years ago this would have felt like science fiction. Today, this feels ominous and real.

Book: The Rulers of the New World—John Pilger (2002)
Renowned investigative journalist John Pilger delivers a hard-hitting, lucidly researched collection of articles about the diabolical shams of globalization.
Why read: In the midst of today’s media saturation, this tears apart all the doublespeak and sets the record straight with truth and honesty.

Film: Showgirls (1995)
This is a soft-core flick that you must watch. Paul Verhoeven’s sex romp about a pole dancer with a heart of gold was lambasted when it was first released but later acquired cult status, and is one of the most entertaining and unintentionally funny films we’ve seen.
Why watch: The unprecedented amount of gorgeous topless showgirls will keep you reeling from beginning to end.

Film: Sid & Nancy (1986)
Essentially a touching love story, this Alex Cox film centers on the tumultuous relationship between punk outfit The Sex Pistol’s leader Sid Vicious and groupie Nancy Spudgen. Cox perfectly captures the softer side of the destructive couple never before seen in rock features.
Why watch: Punk gets sentimental—you’ll never get to see this anywhere else.

Film: Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This multiple Oscar winner (including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress) is still chilling after all these years. Jodie Foster puts in the performance her life as rookie cop Clarice Starling, who must get into the mind of cannibal and serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in order to track down another killer.
Why watch: Silence of the Lambs was the perfect thriller, something rarely achieved.

Album: Slanted & Enchanted—Pavement (1992)
Good lyrics are hard to write. Indie outfit Pavement pulls it off in this album with wonderfully surreal lyrics that are fused with the jangly hooks and deadpan vocals of frontman Steve Malkmus.
Why listen: This is a hallmark of indie credibility, and deciphering the giddy lyrics might keep you engaged for days.

Film: Spun (2002)
There is Requiem for a Dream, and there is Spun. This adrenaline-pumping and frenetic film that revolves around a bunch of druggies is much more fun and accessible than the critically-acclaimed Requiem, thanks to director Jonas Akerlund’s unrelenting visual artistry, drawn from his MTV days doing cutting-edge music videos for Madonna (“Ray of Light”) and The Cardigans (“My Favourite Game”).
Why watch: With fine performances from a hip cast and a great soundtrack, this is one of the definitive films for the Y-generation.

Film: Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
This minimalist film is a hallmark slacker film which garnered then newbie director Jim Jarmusch the Best First Film award at the Cannes Film Festival. Nothing much goes on in here, but this sparse black-and-white masterpiece about two guys and a girl says a lot about modern ennui with barely any conversation.
Why watch: This is arguably Jarmusch’s best and most beloved film, before he went on to direct other greats such as Dead Man and Mystery Train.

Book: The Stranger—Albert Camus (1942)
Does life have any meaning? Do our actions have consequences? Mersault, the central character, commits a crime so that he can be removed from “normal” society. Themes here range from empathy, justice and remorse.
Why read: This absurdist-existentialist bible is one of literature’s must-reads.

Album: Strangeways, Here We Come—The Smiths (1987)
This may be the trendsetting Brit group The Smiths’ swansong, but lead Morrissey went on to carve a successful solo career for himself. This album is a taste of what came after—catchy hooks and heartbreaking lyrics. Essential.
Why listen: Makes loneliness seem really alluring.

Album: There’s a Riot Goin’ On—Sly & The Family Stone (1971)
America 1971, an infernal cauldron of civil unrest and the specter of the controversial Vietnam War. These were the simmering conditions which led to Sly & The Family Stone’s metamorphosis from ebullient pop tinged funk into a black hole of bitterly harrowing funk and soul.
Why listen: This is possibly the bleakest and most angst-ridden funk album ever produced in the history of music.

Film: Three Colors: Red (1994)
Arguably one of the best films ever made, Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s last film before his death in 1995 is a timeless testament about the power of fate and the relationships between human beings—explored through the intriguing story of a model who discovers a retired judge who taps his neighbors’ phones.
Why watch: The film is sense and sensitivity redefined.

Book: What is the What—Dave Eggers (2006)
Plunge into the awe-inspiring and tumultuous story of a Valentino Achak Deng, a Sudanese “Lost Boy” who endures civil war, torture, refugee camps, starvation and man-eating lions before eventually reaching America.
Why read: Not only does it put a human face on the suffering of Darfur, the page-turning prose of Dave Eggers makes it one of the most engaging books on our list.

Book: A World Apart—Gustaw Herling (1951)
In 1940, Polish-born Gustaw Herling was imprisoned by Russian communists in a labor camp for being part of an underground army. Herling tells of two years of hardship, deprivation and how he and his comrades clung on to hope when there was almost nothing to live for.
Why read: For all you self-pitiful types who think you have it bad. If this book doesn’t strengthen your outlook on life, then, well, you’re not worth saving.

Book: Youth—J M Coetzee (2002)
The second installment (Boyhood was the first) of Coetzee’s semi-fictionalized autobiography, Youth is about a young man’s attempt (with numerous awkward episodes) to blend into ‘50s London after arriving from South Africa.
Why read: Displacement, disillusionment, disaffection—recurring themes in the book which are even more relevant now.

Film: Zoolander (2001)
Comedian Ben Stiller shows that he has the directing chops with this highly satirical film about the hypocritical and bitchy fashion industry. Stiller plays himbo male model Derek Zoolander, who manages to pout his way to the top before pretentious skateboard-surfing model Hansel (Luke Wilson) gets in his way—you’ve got to laugh.
Why watch: Great cast, great clothes and a cameo by David Bowie—yeah!

If you have time for 50 more (In alphabetical order)

Album: Actually—Pet Shop Boys (1990)
Pop music at its very best.

Book: The Algebra of Infinite Justice—Arundhati Roy (2002)
Arundhati Roy passionately discusses hot topics such as globalization and America’s war against terror.

Book: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning—Laurie Lee (1969)
Laurie Lee leaves the northern English countryside and heads to Spain, where he busks for living walking from town to town.

Album: Basketball Diaries: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack—Various Artists (1995)
Great grunge tunes from the likes of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Film: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)
Seventies’ sexual hysteria at its most over the top.

Film: Blowup (1966)
You will never look at the world of fashion (or life) the same way again.

Film: Boogie Nights (1997)
Sex, nudity, human drama, great acting and a prosthetic dick—what more can you ask for?

Book: Breakfast of Champions—Kurt Vonnegut (1973)
A satirical social commentary on America in the early ‘70s.

Book: The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God—Etgar Keret (2004)
A waifish compendium of surreal pithy fiction from one of Israel’s best young writers.

Album: Chrome—Catherine Wheel (1995)
Before Oasis, there was Catherine Wheel with its lush and timeless Brit-pop masterpiece.

Film: Demonlover (2002)
Tres chic-meets-sex-meets a Sonic Youth soundtrack—a killer combo.

Film: Dirty Harry (1971)
Watch this just to see Clint Eastwood’s character say, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

Book: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep— Philip K Dick (1968)
The book that spawned the cult film Bladerunner.

Film: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Al Pacino plays the mother of all anti-heroes in this real-life bank heist flick.

Film: Dressed to Kill (1980)
The ending alone will jolt you out of your seats.

Book: Drown—Junot Diaz (1996)
Rude and boisterous—a voice so original and refreshing, it’ll make you dizzy with delight.

Film: F*cking Amal (Show Me Love) (1998)
It’s one of the sweetest, funniest and realest films we’ve seen.

Book: Football Against the Enemy—Simon Kuper (1993)
There’s no better book about the geopolitical underpinnings of the beautiful game than this.

Book: Ghost World—Daniel Clowes (1997)
Dan Clowes adroitly illustrates American suburbia and quirky outcastes with real life observations.

Album: If I Were a Carpenter—Various Artists (1995)
Cover versions hardly sound this good.

Film: In Bed With Madonna (1991)
An insight into Madonna at her prime.

Book: Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty—Tim Sandlin (2007)
The wild antics of old folks in a retirement home.

Album: The Joshua Tree—U2 (1987)
U2 at their very best.

Book: Kafka On The Shore—Haruki Murakami (2002)
This is Murakami at his weirdest and most enchanting yet.

Film: The Last Seduction (1994)
Whoever thought that being a manipulative bitch could be so cool?

Album: London Calling—The Clash (1979)
Indisputably the most mature and polished sonic offering from the patriarchs of punkrockdom.

Album: Loveless—My Bloody Valentine (1991)
The album marks the start of the shoegazing music genre.

Film: Manhattan (1979)
Woody Allen hasn’t made anything better since. And NYC looks fab in monochrome.

Book: The Moon and Sixpence—Somerset Maugham (1919)
The life of French painter Paul Gaugin is recreated through protagonist Charles Strickland.

Book: The Motorcycle Diaries—Che Guevara (1996)
The birth of a 20th century revolutionary icon known as “Che.”

Album: Parallel Lines—Blondie (1978)
This is one hell of an infectious punk rock album.

Book: Persepolis—Marjane Sartrapi (2003)
Marjane Sartrapi recollects growing up in late ‘70s and early ‘80s Iran, a tumultuous era of political change and war.

Album: Pink Moon—Nick Drake (1972)
An intimately sparse folk album that was lit by Drake’s vulnerably aching vocals.

Film: Quills (2001)
For ideas on ways you can all demonstrate your own discontents

Album: Raising Hell—Run DMC (1986)
Old school hip hop done just right.

Album: Rio—Duran Duran (1982)
This glimmeringly sexy contagious pop nugget was Duran Duran at its peak.
Ritual de lo Habitual—Jane’s Addiction (1990)
Take a bite of Jane’s Addiction trademark “fun” twist on dark, macabre stuff.

Book: Samedi the Deafness—Jesse Ball (2007)
One of the most inventive and boldest works of literary fiction by a promising young author in recent times.

Book: Sexing The Cherry— Jeanette Winterson (1989)
Set in 17th century England, this is an esoteric allegory about governmet corruption and the abuse of power.

Book: Slaughterhouse Five— Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
There are not many books that you can preface “A highly entertaining piece on the folly of war.”

Film: Subway (1985)
This Luc Besson film makes the grotty Paris metro look appealing—an achievement in itself.

Album: Surfer Rosa—The Pixies (1988)
This is the perfect album to introduce you to the moody Pixies sound.

Film: Suspiria (1977)
It’ll leave you breathless.

Album: Ten—Pearl Jam (1991)
Powerfully evocative anthems like “Jeremy” and “Alive” will rock your world.

Book: The Tin Drum—Gunter Grass (1959)
A retarded boy, his drum and magical realism at its splendiferous best.

Book: Twelve Bar Blues—Patrick Neate (2001)
An ambitious mythological narrative that traverses continents and historical periods.

Album: Two Hunters—The Throne Room (2007)
Not your typical metal album.

Book: The Wind-Up Bird chronicle—Haruki Murakami (1997)
Dreamy, surreal and highly bizarre.

Book: The World According to Garp—John Irving (1978)
A novel that breaks gender stereotypes and addresses the shifting gender roles of the time.

Album: Zombie—Fela Anikulapo Kuti & Africa’ 70 (1977)
Only 25 minutes long but raw and revolutionary.

What are your desert island picks?

Book picks by Kenny Luck, co-owner of Books Actually

White Tiger—Aravind Adiga (2008)
This year’s Man Booker Prize winner, which is a riveting debut novel about contemporary India by an ex-financial journalist.

No One Belongs Here More Than You—Miranda July (2007)
Heir of American short story specialist Linda Davis, this collection of stories centered on the theme of loneliness is a worthy read.

Book picks by Cyril Wong, poet

Time’s Arrow—Martin Amis (1992)
A surreal story about a Nazi doctor who suffers an unhappy life after the holocaust; it is told entirely in reverse.

Watchmen—Alan Moore (2000)
I love its portrayal of retired, potbellied superheroes who have to fight each other in order to save the world. The movie adaptation will come out next year and it is guaranteed to suck.

Album and film picks by Parient Zero, bassist from rock band Johnny Shameless & His Minions

Holy Bible—Manic Street Preachers (1994)
One of the angriest albums of all time

Dog Man Star—Suede (1994)
Last album which showcased the brilliance of Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler working together.

Chungking Express (1994)
This is the first film that got me hooked into arthouse cinema. Christopher Doyle’s cinematography was simply brilliant in this urban masterpiece.

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