Here is a list of the books and media I’ve read over the years that I have either (a) enjoyed the most or (b) learned the most from.
Within each category, authors are listed alphabetically. Where more than one book is listed for an author, I’ve listed the books in order of preference.
Dante Alighieri, Inferno Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine; Fahrenheit 451Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; My Antonia Albert Camus, The Stranger John Cheever, Collected Stories Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov F.
In an article published in Friday’s Washington Times, economist Tyler Cowen makes several interesting and provocative arguments about reading and books.
“What should you do when, 20, 50 or 100 pages in, you realize you just don’t like a book?” Cowen says: “Give up.”
“We should treat books a little more like we treat TV channels,” (Cowen) argues. No one has trouble flipping away from a boring series.”
Shaman Drum of Ann Arbor, MI, one of the best independent bookstores in the Midwest, permanently shut its doors today. It is a major loss for Ann Arbor and for book-lovers everywhere.
Independent and used bookstores need your support. Shop at them. Go to their events. Buy their gift certificates as holiday gifts.
Independent bookstores must fight back against the challenging economic environment by doing everything they can to improve their businesses.
Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others.
As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its Amazon.com page. Enjoy!
Arons, Compelling Belief: The Future of American Schooling(education/religion/politics) Doniger, The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth (religion / mythology) Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (history / politics) Frank, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class (economics / politics) Frankel, Faith and Freedom: Religious Liberty in America (religion / politics / law)Gibran, The Prophet (2nd reading; philosophy / religion) Hamsun, Dreamers (literature)Harrison, Returning to Earth(literature) Harrison, True North (literature) Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (2nd reading; literature) Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (literature)Laxness, Independent People(literature) Mann, The Magic Mountain(literature) Milosz, Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition(memoirs / literature / history) Putney & Putney, The Adjusted American: Normal Neurosis in the Individual and Society (psychology) Salomon & Valdez, Little House on a Small Planet (design / environment) Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (3rd reading; politics / international relations)
It was good to finally know that the spirit was everywhere rather than a separate thing. … Clare fed our leftover sandwiches to a stray mutt, who didn’t chew the proper thirty-two times. … All of my jobs had kept me grounded in actual life whereas simply sitting in my room with my studies tended to make me unstable. … In New York City the endless blocks of huge buildings say to us, I’m serious and within me serious people are doing serious things even though five thousand people in a building might only be playing with the market edge.
The following list includes the books I’ve read this year that I enjoyed the most and that had the biggest effect on me. I give the highest recommendation to all of them, and I’ve bolded the top five.
Akhmatova, Selected Poems
Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison
Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun
de Bary, Sources of Japanese Tradition
Frye, The Educated Imagination
Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics
From The Orient Express
One looks from the train Almost as one looked as a child. In the sunlight What I see still seems to me plain, I am safe; but at evening As the lands darken, a questioning Precariousness comes over everything.
From Deutsch Durch Freud
Have you too sometimes, by the fire, at evening, Wished that you were - whatever you once were?
From A Girl in a Library
From How It Should Be in Heaven How it should be in Heaven I know, for I was there. By its river. Listening to its birds. In its season: in summer, shortly after sunrise. … Peace eternal Could have no mornings and no evenings, Such a deficiency speaks against it. And that’s too hard a nut for a theologian to crack.
A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.
After all, I got into teaching for the same reason, I suspect, that many people did: because I thought it was a high-stakes affair, a pursuit in which souls are won and lost.
One of the ways we’ve tried to be attractive is by loosening up. We grade much more genially than our colleagues in the sciences. In English and history, we don’t give many D’s, or C’s, either. (The rigors of Chem 101 may create almost as many humanities majors per year as the splendors of Shakespeare.