I am neither a literary critic nor a humanities professor, so the academic would say I am completely unqualified to recommend books or comment on them.  I say, balderdash!  I love to read and I enjoy sharing a valuable discovery.  I've been around the world and I've seen what works and what doesn't. 

Reading these books will help you become a well-rounded thinker able to discuss many diverse topics.  They will also provide you a basis of knowledge so you can evaluate the torrent of daily information presented to you and form your own judgments and opinions.

The Road to Serfdom, F.A. Hayek
He wrote it in the 1940's and you'll be amazed how prescient Hayek was.  He's a brilliant man who explains things so we all can understand them.  He makes an ironclad case for how free markets  will always outdo centrally planned ones.  He also shows how economic planning inevitably leads to totalitarianism.  If the progressives can't cajole and nudge you, they will eventually be forced to threaten and force you to go along with their plans.  Get the Bruce Caldwell edition.

The Bible
Love, hate, lust, greed, poetry, heroics, salvation. The Bible plays every note on the scale of human existence. Full of timeless wisdom and practical guidance. Oh, and it's the inerrant word of our Lord and creator.

Perennial Philosophy, Aldous Huxley
Brilliant resume of the world's faiths

Penguin History of Latin America, Edwin Williamson
Everything you need to know about our neighbors to the south

Art of War, Sun-Tzu
Wisdom from the East

Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
Written back in the 1300's, this book proves that the human condition is timeless

Story of Philosophy, Will Durant
An easy to understand window into Western philosophy for us non-philosophers. Dr Durant knows how to explain the complex

, Jose Enrique Rodo
A metaphor for US-Latin American relations

5000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Skousen
Great guide on the US Constitution, our founding fathers, and the timeless principles that guided them

Book of Virtues, William Bennett
A veritable Cliff's Notes of classic literature

America, The last best hope, William Bennett
Well-written, highly readable history of the US, warts and all

The Constitution of the the United States of America

The Declaration of Independence

This is not a book, Michael Picard
Another good philosophy book for non-philosophers

Great Heresies, Hillaire Belloc
From a Catholic Perspective, provides a concise history of Christianity, why and how the great splits happened

Documents of the Christian Church, Henry Bettenson
From an Anglican perspective, but really non-denominational

Shadowlands of C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft
An easy intro to C.S. Lewis for the uninitiated. Good thought material

Character is Destiny, John McCain
Real stories from real life that highlight positive character traits. A book for kids and adults

Story of English, McCrum, Cran, MacNeil

7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Franklin Covey
Need to get your collective stuff together? This is the book

Vanishing Hitchhiker, Jan Brunvard
She wrote books on urban legends before the internet existed!

The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkein

Lord of the Rings Trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkein
Don't like the bible and religion? I got news for you, good and evil still exist, and these books do a superb job of exposing the battles between the two.

Jihad vs. McWorld, Benjamin Barber
Excellent book on globalism and it's clash with local cultures

Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington

Coming Anarchy, Robert Kaplan
Scary book from an educated man who's been to the edge of civilization and beyond

Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, Robert Kaplan

Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Yes, there was a time when people really were poor and starving in the US, and Steinbeck writes about them with skill and poignancy

Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes
New history of the Great Depression. Debunks many of the myths we've come to accept as fact.

Churchill's History of the English Speaking Peoples, Henry Steele Commager
A must read. Churchill was a brilliant man and a gifted writer. He makes history interesting. Henry Commager, his personal biographer, condensed down his work to one volume.

Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut
Are you willing to give up everything to make a stand for your principles? Could you rebel against a system that has pampered you and given you a privileged place within it?

Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
If you've ever embarked on learning some skill or occupation that seemed impossible, you will sympathize with this funny, entertaining book

Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
What is the meaning of life? Do you control your own life? If there were one book I would make mandatory for everyone to read, this is it. Conceived in a Nazi concentration camp, it is ultimately about the human soul. An Existentialist who believes in God!

Time must have a stop, Aldous Huxley
If you can get over the very Victorian setting and language, this is a thought provoking book. It's an interesting story, but the existential brain-grabbers come hot and heavy at the end. You'll find yourself putting the book down to think quite often.

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Less famous but more prescient than Orwell's 1984. Totalitarianism doesn't have to be unpleasant.

Arabian Nights, Vol 1 & 2, Jack Zipes
Folk tales can tell a lot about a culture. You can learn a lot from these two books, and keep yourself entertained in the process.

Econ 101 1/2, Elaine Schwartz
She breaks down the dismal science so normal people can understand it

Children of the Universe, Hoimar Von Ditfurth
We are made of the same stuff as the stars. A highly readable, thought proving book by a respected German scholar.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown
Just because the hippies rolled it up and beat Western Civilization over the head with it is no reason not to read it. The other side of Manifest Destiny.

1984, George Orwell
Totalitarianism. Resist it.

Animal Farm, George Orwell
Totalitarianism. Recognize it. Resist it.

Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
Orwell was a communist, but the scales fell from his eyes when he went to fight the Fascists in Spain. He remained a Socialist, but was through with Soviet Communism. An object lesson in how larger movements use the true believers as useful idiots.

The Seekers, Daniel Boorstin

Camp of the Saints, Jean Raspail
Branded a racist book, but it makes a point about defending ones culture. What would happen if millions of third-world poor overwhelmed Europe? Could European governments morally stop the invasion? What would the outcome be?

For Whom the bell tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Can you imagine believing in a cause so deeply you would give your life for it?

The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
Yes, the meat packing plants really were that bad. This book gave a major push to the US labor movement and to the establishment of federal work safety, food safety, and labor laws.

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon
I cheated. I read the condensed version (only around 1200 pages). Learn who the Goths and the Vandals were. Learn why Rome fell.

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Moralistic, humanistic story that plumbs the depths of humanity. The Inquisitor, laceration, the ant heap, and great quotes: "A beast can never be so cruel as a man, so artistically cruel."

Morality and Moral Controversies, John Arthur
More of a textbook really. Explores many themes of moral philosophy.

Anything by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Robert Kaplan, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell


The Conservative Diva said...

Let me know when you update your list. I have got to read 1984...cannot believe I never have. My favorite on your list is "5000 Year Leap"! Bought my copy at CPAC in 2010 from Skousen's son!

Got any recommendations for American history?

Silverfiddle said...

The definitive work of US History is Bill Bennett's "America, The Last Best Hope," two volume set. He covers a lot of ground and does it in short, easily readable bites.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list, Silverfiddle!
I'm going to take some notes. ;-)

Have you read "Siddhartha" by Hermann Hesse?

Silverfiddle said...

No, I haven't. I take it you recommend it?

Anonymous said...

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Here's a link to the full text online, if you want to look at it.

And here's Wikipedia's Plot Summary

The story begins as Siddhartha, the son of a Brahmin, leaves his home to join the ascetics with his companion Govinda. The two set out in the search of enlightenment.

Siddhartha goes from asceticism, to a very worldly life as a trader with a lover, and back to asceticism as he attempts to achieve this goal.

The story takes place in ancient India around the time of Gotama Buddha (likely between the fourth and seventh centuries BCE[3]).

Experience is the aggregate of conscious events experienced by a human in life – it connotes participation, learning and knowledge.

Understanding is comprehension and internalization. In Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, experience is shown as the best way to approach understanding of reality and attain enlightenment – Hesse’s crafting of Siddhartha’s journey shows that understanding is attained not through scholastic, mind-dependent methods, nor through immersing oneself in the carnal pleasures of the world and the accompanying pain of samsara; however, it is the totality of these experiences that allow Siddhartha to attain understanding.

Thus, the individual events are meaningless when considered by themselves—Siddhartha’s stay with the samanas and his immersion in the worlds of love and business do not lead to nirvana, yet they cannot be considered distractions, for every action and event that is undertaken and happens to Siddhartha helps him to achieve understanding. The sum of these events is thus experience.

Goes at reasons and motivation for the human condition from a spiritual and philosophical standpoint. I suspect leftists want to think Siddhartha undercuts and obviates Christianity and Western Thought, but I believe it may shed light on our antecedents and bolster every positive aspect of our heritage.

Certainly worth a look.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Vanishing Hitchhiker, huh! It's a great book, and not very well known. Cheers!