How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler. When you think of “Great Books,” you should think of Mortimer Adler. Adler was a prolific writer and significant contributor to the fields of philosophy and education. While at the University of Chicago, he developed the Great Books of the Western World program that has been copied and expanded the world over. How to Read a Book is a great introduction to Adler’s thoughts on education as well as a primer on how to gain the most from each book that you read.
Profiles of Courage by John F. Kennedy. Written while a US Senator, this book is Kennedy’s tribute to eight extraordinary Senators who came before him. Fans of the television show The West Wing will recognize their idealism. These men risked their political careers to stand up for what they believed was right. It is easy to become cynical about our elected leaders yet here is some cause for optimism. The book offers just a glimpse of how things could be and is an inspiration as a result.
The Republic by Plato. For over 2000 years, there has been a discussion about justice and the proper role of government. That discussion starts here. While men certainly discussed and wrote about these subjects before Plato, he was the one who laid the foundation of work later continued by scholars such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke. Those seeking to become a philosopher-king need to read this book very carefully.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. If you haven’t read this, you need to. It’s a hard book to describe. What starts as a cross-country motorcycle journey becomes an introduction to philosophy. The book is compelling yet very informative. It should be required reading for every graduate student.
More to come.