9 Books Which Have Influenced Me Most
1. Icelandic Sagas, especially the Grettis Saga. I admit I was pretty silly at age 18, but the tales are engaging and show how people can live and prosper in essentially stateless societies.
2. Proust, Recherche des Temps Perdu. For the account of interior life. Vastly superior in the original French.
3. Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. It was after reading this that I realized the great books were becoming my friends.
4. Herbert Spencer, Social Statics. Ideas don’t always imply what you may think. Spencer’s premises are so close to those of Darwin and Marx yet his reasoning leads to very different conclusions.
5. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. Everyone reads Discipline and Punish but Foucault’s best insights are found here.
6.Douglas Hofstader, Gödel, Escher, Bach. I would have got more out of this had I finished high school math first.
7. Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind. Thought-provoking but in the end I was not convinced.
8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The British Campaign in France and Flanders: 1914. All his war journalism is excellent, however in this book above all one gets the sense that Conan Doyle wants to tell the story of a few heroic characters but is unable to do so as they keep dying too quickly. Just as the Great War challenged ideas of what military conflict meant, so too did it challenge conventional ideas of heroism and narrative.
9. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash. For the internet, for the microstates, for the Babylonian-Pentecostal mind control, but most of all for reshaping my idea of what protagonists could be named.
I’ve only even read the last two. Some of the others are on the to-read list, especially GEB.
Do check out the link though, the idea is hilarious.