Paul Gehrman

Novels

Kaleidoscope Paul Gehrman People always ask me what this book is about. It could be about the reincarnation of Thomas Paine, but it's really about whatever you decide it's about. What I mean is: The book provides so many opportunities to fill in the blanks, you can spin it in hundreds of different ways, depending on how much imagination you have.
The Fountainhead Ayn Rand Despite the perceived political implications of this novel, the book is really about grades of character and self-actualization, which is why it triggers such strong emotional responses in people, positive and negative. The anti-intellectual left loves to trash this book, but that tells you everything you need to know about them.
1984 George Orwell An incredible masterpiece, still highly relevant today.

Non-fiction books

The True Believer Eric Hoffer A seminal work on the nature of nationalist and religious mass movements.
The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins More than anything, Dawkins' intellectual enthusiasm runs very high in this one.
The Moral Animal Robert Wright Darwinian analysis on steroids
Religion Explained Pascal Boyer Boyer explores many interesting ideas on a very complex subject.
The Triumph of Politics David Stockman An important part of my early education about how Washington really works. We pour trillions of dollars into a big pot and then our whores (Senators and Congressional representatives) fight to get back as much as they can for their special interests and other campaign contributors. This book is also a good history of the (failed) Reagan "revolution."
The Tempting of America: The Polticial Seduction of the Law Robert Bork This book should be required reading in our nation's law schools. Non-lawyers may appreciate it too, because it explains the role of the judiciary in our democracy. Bork also highlights the crude anti-intellectualism of the left, and the rather unfortunate fact that highly-charged emotional arguments usually carry the day over well-reasoned ones.

Music

She Sells Sanctuary The Cult Perhaps the greatest rock song of all time. An epic live version is here
Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd I read an interview with Roger Waters where he described taking the finished recording home (on a reel to reel) and playing it for his wife. Upon listening to it, she burst into tears.
Van Halen I Van Halen Arguably, the best debut album ever. Every song on this is record is good. I remember when it first came out and being blown away, especially by Eddie Van Halen on guitar and David Lee Roth as the ultimate front man.
In the Meantime Spacehog Check out the video here. Seems like a satire of the hipster culture, which I always find amusing.
Cannonball The Breeders I'm not sure if I could handle Kim Deal, but I'd be up for trying. Check out the video here
Love Is Blue Andre Popp / Paul Mauriat Check out video here
Classical Gas Mason Williams I love this version from 1968, with the full orchestra behind it. Glen Campbell also has a good version.
Pain The War on Drugs The first time I heard this song, I thought it would immediately eradicate all of the Justin Bieber energy in the universe. Apparently, that was wishful thinking, but doesn't detract from the talent of these guys. The video also has a really good vibe.
Skin Oingo Boingo This song will always hold a special place for me because I featured the lyrics prominently in one of the most important chapters of Kaleidoscope.

Movies

Dumb and Dumber Jim Carrey's best movie. Jeff Daniels is excellent in this one, too.
Dumb and Dumber To Not as brilliant as the original, but a worthy sequel.
American Beauty I love Alan Ball, including Six Feet Under. He writes stories with complex, layered themes. This is also one of the hallmarks and strengths of my novel, Kaleidoscope (and why it took me four years to write).
A Clockwork Orange Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece. If there was ever an actor born to play a role, it was Malcolm McDowell as Alex.
Ordinary People Superbly acted and directed. Mary Tyler Moore, in particular, was underrated as an actress.