Not that anyone asked, but these are some of my favorite reads of the year. Some of this is technical, some fiction, some documentary, maybe some not even good, but this is what I have been digesting. I recommend all these despite having all sorts of reservations. p.s. I use Audible for most stuff. If some of these books show up on other lists of mine, its because it took years to read, or maybe I reread it years later, and maybe it was more important to me on the second read, who knows, either way the stats don’t lie, these books dominated.
The Examined Life
Robert Nozick – Nobody has written in plain words such a succinct summary of human nature and the interpersonal. This book attempts to reconcile the scientific with the holy while integrating our own desire to find universal truth, while pursuing individual happiness. The book is broken up into meditations which are short enough to ponder daily, or deep enough to take up an entire vacation, you decide how far down the rabbit hole you go.
Democracy In America
Alexis de Tocqueville – Want to know why the western world looks the way it does, Alexis De Tocqueville attempts to narrate why with a long history of democracy, and how religious synthesis helped lay the framework for political liberty. The book is critical in its predictions of the coming civil war but fails to explain the great art which could come from the equality of free societies. He may still be right, the internet does seem to prove him right.
Fear and Trembling
Soren Kierkegaard – This book eloquently explains anxiety through Gods test of Abraham and his final choice. It is a philosophical statement about mans relation to God and nature with the primary purpose being to reinforce the momentary subjective nature of right and wrong. In this moment, faith reigns supreme.
The Looming Tower
Lawrence Wright – This book helps explain how small groups of motivated people changed the course of history. What motivated their actions, who were the players, and how did the global politic not see it coming. Probably not a bad idea to also checkout Michael Scheuer’s take on Bin Laden and the war on terror, Imperial Hubris as a complementary counterpoint(yes I know that doesn’t make sense but in this case it does).
Based on a True Story: A Memoir
Norm Macdonald – I don’t even know what to say, this book was a riot, but maybe only for a fan of Norm MacDonald. The story while energetic and captivating is embellished and maybe even wholly fabricated, but I get the feeling there is no better way to know Norm MacDonald than through his own internal fantasy.
J. D. Vance – This one is too obvious, everyone read it, in fact it was a gift for many friends and family members. This book is at its best when the colorful descriptions of real life blend with our own experiences, much empathy.
The Varieties of Religious Experience
William James – The master of natural theology, this book consists of edited lectures on the subject which were written in the early days of the 20th century. The ideas shared here lay the framework for his future book Pragmatism, but I enjoy his take on mysticism and the healthy mind.
Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism
Camille Paglia – There is nothing new under the sun, and there is not much new in Camile’s rehashed views on aesthetics and their important history and relation to sex, gender and our ability to express ourselves. People want a world without internal conflict and turmoil, little do they know it may be their only pure motivating force.