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January 28, 2009


chris corwin

i'd be interested in knowing how many other regular commenters have ready every one of those books (all the way through) ?


In no particular order:

*Guns, Germs, and Steel* by Jared Diamond—Provides a comprehensible overview of the rise of civilizations, while attempting to explain how things went the way they did. Why did Europeans colonize the Americas and not the other way around? Diamond suggests that geography may be an answer.

*Go Down Moses* by William Faulkner—A collection of stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. I don’t read the Bible much anymore, but I feel like I do something close to it when I read Faulkner. He’s a sort of Old Testament chronicler of the American South.

*The Omnivore’s Dilemma* and *In Defense of Food* by Michael Pollan. A modern history of what we eat and some ideas on how we should eat it.

*Darwin’s Dangerous Idea* by Daniel Dennett. A contemporary explication of Darwin’s theory. Even if you are not convinced that Darwinism is true by reading this book, you will at least be disabused of its caricatures.

*What Are People For* and *Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community* by Wendell Berry. A philosophy of holism put into practice by a Christian author who lives on a small farm in Kentucky.

*The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man* by James Joyce. A semi-autobiographical novel of a Dubliner who rejects the confines of Catholicism and Ireland to “forge in the smithy of [his] soul the uncreated conscience of [his] race.”

*The Republic* by Plato. On the contrary, Horatio, there's not much in heaven and earth that is not dealt with in Plato’s philosophy.

*The Divine Comedy* by Dante. The consummate poem of what C. S. Lewis called the discarded image: the medieval view of the universe and the human soul.

*After Virtue* by Alasdair MacIntyre. A history of moral philosophy that claims we have no reference for right or wrong without the old notions of virtue. Recommended as an excellent history of ideas, not for its conclusions.

*Moby Dick* by Herman Melville. To be read and suffered through for the pleasure of encountering Ahab alone, a Miltonic Satan on the high seas.


I'm sorry, but what a stupid list... not you Nate, the one on the AOL webpage. Lord of the rings? Harry freakin' Potter? Give me a break! Like I'd be laying on my deathbed regretting that I hadn't read that stuff!

No wonder we've voted in the officials we have, with the attention span of sheep following the one in front of us off the cliff!



I think the problem with the list on the AOL page was the title. At the end of the list it said, “This list is based on the results of a Harris Poll that asked 2,413 U.S. adults to name their favorite books.” So the title should have been, “Ten Books that Many American Adults Have Read.”

My list was based on the fact that there are some books I’ve read that have changed the way I view the world. And for the better, I think. It’s not a list of the best page turners I’ve read. And it’s not a list of the “great books” that every well educated person should have ready before turning off the reading light one last time. I don’t completely buy into that, although a few titles on my list are “classics.” There is a certain expectation that you should read Homer and Virgil and Tolstoy and Proust, etc., if you want to be a cultured person, and I have let that influence my reading from time to time. But the reason I love books is that they can inspire and, yes, instruct. Any book that can do that is worth reading before you die.

chris corwin

both of the series of books known collectively as "the lord of the rings and harry potter" are amazingly written stories, full of things everyone ought to think about.

just because they've been popular or they weren't written in 18th century french or first century greek does not make them "stupid".

good stories, good characters.

anyone who did not enjoy them clearly can't think.


chris corwin

also, @nate:

"guns, germs, and steel" was absolutely amazing.

everyone SHOULD read it, for sure.

it is nearly impossible, i think, to rightfully understand where our culture is at today without wrestling with the issues in that book.

that is not to say one must buy its theories outright -- but thinking on them is eye-openeing.

Michael E Loux

Two Books that I would like to recommend:

1. "Growning Wise in Family Life" by "Charles R. Swindoll"

2. "The University of Hard Knocks" by "Ralph Parlette"

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