1 - Ham on Rye - Charles Bukowski
Quite simply, the greatest novel I have ever read. Bukowski writes in simplistic prose that the cliched term 'gritty realism' was made for. He writes about everyday life in a way that is so brutally honest and true I could completely relate to almost everything he said. Bukowski also recounts a childhood that was fairly unusual and abusive which, of course, makes it more interesting to read about. Despite this, the novel is also one of the funniest I have ever read and actually makes me laugh out loud everytime I read it. This is because, as well as pointing out the tragic moments of life, he also beautifully recounts the humour and lightness we experience in everyday life too.
2 - Things Unspoken - Anitra Sheen
I only read this recently. It recounts a childhood even more unusual than that of Bukowski. The prose is so odd and dreamy that it takes a while to get into. However, once you get past this, you become immersed in a story that actually flows like the life that is being recounted. It also isn't a novel that pushes you to think a certain way, it simply tells you her story in a simple but storng narrative voice and lets you make up your own judgments.
3 - The Story of My Experiments With Truth - Mohandas Gandhi
In my opinion, the greatest man who ever lived (that I know about). As with Gandhi himself, this book manages to be both great and humble at the same time. It recounts his political, philosophical and spiritual beliefs whilst also giving you a somewhat simple recount of his life from early childhood. This means it can be enjoyed on a number of levels.
4 - My Life in Orange - Tim Guest
Another book that recounts a very unusual childhood. This shows what happened to children who were brought up within the confines of what was basically a spiritual cult. It doesn't push the reader to judge whether this life was better or worse than a mainstream upbringing. It simply recounts a childhood and lets the reader decide how shocked they want to be by it.
5 - Junky - William S. Burroughs
The story of somebody addicted to heroin (among other things). The hopeless cycle of addiction in this novel is beautifully portrayed in all its tragedy. It leaves little light at the end of the tunnel but it does make you think. At times, it is definitely hard to have empathy for the protagonist but sometimes it is better to not have all your questions answered.
6 - Scar Tissue - Anthony Kiedis
It's about a rock star taking a lot of drugs and shagging a lot of beautiful women. It's not exactly 'Crime and Punishment' but it's pretty entertaining nonetheless.