I decided to do a page to list some of my favorite books. Books that I consider to be classics for one reason or another – just in case anyone cares.
Actually, I’ve been meaning to do this for quite awhile because people often ask me how I know some strange fact, or why I think the way I do. Some of these books have had a profound impact on me, while others are simply fun to read. I think there are way too many people who don’t ever read for whatever reason, and if I can help change that because of the books I like, the world will be a better place.
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I’ll start off with some classics that should be in every home in the country. In no particular order they are:
The Story of Civilization by Will Durant The Story of Civilization is an 11 volume set, starting with Our Oriental Heritage and ending with The Age of Napoleon. Will Durant basically spent his life learning about what makes us civilized, how does it happen, what causes civilizations to collapse, and what lasting influence did they leave behind. I’ve read it several times and I learn and/or remember something new each time. It’s not light reading, as Mr. Durant went to school before the dumbing down process started in America, but it’s well worth the time. Pace yourself – try reading a volume a month.
1984 by George Orwell Big Brother originated with George Orwell. This is the original warning about big and intrusive government coming from someone who was a Socialist at heart. The theme of “Big Brother is Watching” is pervasive throughout the book, and it’s amazing how many parallels you can draw to society today. Especially since 9/11. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Who is John Galt? Everything about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, is contained in this classic novel. For me, this book helped me to understand why I think the way I do. It clarified my political philosophy, it helped me to understand why I think government is too big and too intrusive, and above all it helped me to understand why I strive to be successful. (There’s supposedly a movie being made this year based on the novel. These rumors have been going around for years though, so I’ll believe it when I see it.)
FDR’s Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression I have not read this yet, but it’s on my list because it presents a different view of the New Deal than what we’ve all been taught.
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein A librarian once complained to Heinlein that the names in Science Fiction stories were too weird and unpronounceable. Heinlein thought that “a Martian named Smith” wouldn’t sound right, but that was the catalyst for Heinlein to write this book. I was a kid when this was written, but it supposedly was the big thing to read in the mid sixties. It’s an excellent read, and you’ll find yourself immersed in the story and impatient to find out what happens next. Grok?
Animal Farm by George Orwell Another classic warning from Orwell. “All animals are created equal – but some are more equal than others.” The fallacies of communism are exposed in a well written, easy to read narrative. It also explains why capitalism works if you read just a bit between the lines.
Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein Lazarus Long is the world’s oldest man. He’s tired and wants to die. But his will to live is restored by finding something new to do with his life – time travel. He also reminisces about various periods of his life and the stories are great. Kind of like listening to Grandpa tell stories – if Grandpa was over 2000 years old.
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein Have you noticed that I like Robert Heinlein? If you’ve read other Heinlein books, this is like a family reunion of sorts. You’ll get reacquainted with Jubal Harshaw, Lazarus Long, Laz and Lor, Mike, Dora, and Gay Deceiver (sentient computers and space ships) along with interesting new characters that you feel you know right off the bat. Heinlein never really takes the time to explain who, what, or when, he immerses you into the story and you suddenly realize that you know what he’s talking about without him ever having spelled it out. The science in “science fiction” pervades all his books but it’s not obvious. It fades into the background of the stories and makes the stories utterly believable. Be careful – you might just find yourself enjoying science!
Winning by Jack Welch Everything you need to know regarding how to succeed in business – in my opinion anyway. Jack Welch ran GE for many years and GE became known as a leadership factory while he was there. You’ll learn about diferentiation and why it’s important. You’ll learn just how important open and honest communication are at all levels in an organization. And much more.
That’s it for now. I’ll edit this page somewhat frequently as I think of other books that I consider classic and must reads.