13 books everyone should read and why—as voted by you

Add these great titles to your wish list or secure copies for yourself.

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  • We asked BigThink's readers and staff for their recommendations on books everyone should read.
  • A collection of fiction and non-fiction works from around the world spanning millennia, these books will expand your horizons.
  • Many of these books are long out of copyright, and can be read for free.
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Jordan Klepper: Comedians vs. the apocalypse

Watch The Daily Show comedian Jordan Klepper and elite improviser Bob Kulhan live.

These days, if you don't laugh, you might just scream. Enter comedian and The Daily Show regular Jordan Klepper!

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Handling hecklers: Lessons from a comedian

Here's a simple method for finding out whether those shouts are good-natured or not.

  • Not every audience member who speaks out during a comedy show is a heckler. But there's a way to test the waters without upsetting your audience, says comedian Paul F. Tompkins.
  • By engaging in a civil way with the person who spoke out, you either give them an opportunity to add more fun to the show, or they'll reveal their true colors.
  • If the person ends up being a heckler after you've attempted including them in the conversation, the audience will be on your side when you shut that person down.
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Joke theft: Is it really an issue in comedy?

There are several levels of comedy plagiarism, says Paul F. Tompkins.

  • Comedian Paul F. Tompkins explains the complexities of plagiarism in the comedy world; comedians all spend time together, processing the same current events—to some degree, it's natural that they may arrive at the same conclusions and jokes.
  • "There are certain things that human beings just are predisposed to laugh at and we're just kind of all putting our own spin on it," he says.
  • Some comedians may do it knowingly and others completely by accident, almost by osmosis. There are levels of plagiarism, and if you ask most comedians, says Tompkins, they will have had an innocent experience of realizing something they wrote was not truly theirs.
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How to parent like a comedian, Gaffigan style

Parenting is often a compromise between you and your spouse. However, it's that very melding of styles that makes you both greater than the sum of your individual parts.

  • Sometimes if we bring our own point of view into someone else's act, it's not funny. It's funny through their vantage point.
  • Although Jeannie Gaffigan can channel her husband Jim Gaffigan in writing content for his standup act, she sometimes disagrees with his point of view — even though she knows it's funny.
  • Similarly to their differing styles of comedy — Jeannie is more of an essayist, Jim is more of an observational comedian — they also have differing parenting strategies. Whereas Jeannie believes more in a "reward-punishment situation," Jim believes "get rid of all the iPads." They have different points of views of what will motivate their children, but they compromise.
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