If one is pressed for time and can only read two books, it is my opinion that one can feel entitled to speak with a certain degree of authority about Judith Butler if one has read only The Psychic Life of Power and Precarious Life. No other combination of two books seem to me to deliver what this combination does — including any possible combinations of which Gender Trouble would be a member, since one would have to “waste” the second book offsetting one’s erroneous impressions of Gender Trouble.
This declaration gives me an idea for a potentially fun passtime that will help generate volume of comments I need to help me get through the remainder of this Butler paper (approx. 10 more pages). For any given author, what two books can one read to grasp the “whole” of the author’s thought in as elegant and economical a manner as possible? Bonus points for combinations that leave out the most obvious choices.
Here’s a stab at Kierkegaard: Repetition and Practice in Christianity.
(A possible drawback of this type of elegant combination: only after reading nearly all of an author’s work can one understand precisely why the elegant combination gives one the “whole.”)