Pretty often, I’ll come across literary allusions when I read. I’ll generally recognize that they are allusions but not get the full impact because, more often than not, I have not read the work to which the author is alluding.
Sometimes I am ashamed because, you see, my English degree was largely an English literature degree and I have not taken it upon myself to read many of the “great works” of the age. I must admit that is because sometimes, I try to read a “great work” and find myself wondering what on earth someone could get out of that. James Joyce’s Ulysses, for example. Although I almost want to read it simply because the main character is Leopold Bloom, and it makes me wonder why the main character in Mel Brooks’ The Producers is also Leopold Bloom.
Which brings me to my question: If you had to recommend five books to someone, basing your recommendations largely on how much they have permeated the culture, how often you see allusions to them, and whether you liked them, which five would you recommend?