A week ago I wrote a post about my mid year resolutions. One of my resolutions was to start a reading list and finish at least five books by the end of the year. I think it’s a pretty doable goal and I wanted to start my reading list off with my first five. Some of these books I recently discovered through blog recommendations, and others I’ve been wanting to read for a while now. I’ll include an intro and my thoughts related to each book, in case any of you wanted to check them out as well!
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
I got a head start on my resolution and finished this book already, but I finished it around June so I’m counting it! Some of you know that I’ve taken an interest in Stoic philosophy recently, which I particularly like because it provides very practical ways to improve life, as opposed to the much more abstract musings of many other philosophies. I’ve never had a school of thought match how I think and who I am so perfectly. The author Irvine does an amazing job taking lessons from centuries of Stoic thought and distilling these into a straightforward guide for modern times. (link)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
This classic 1974 novel focuses on more abstract philosophical concepts, such as the metaphysics of Quality, in a very down-to-earth way. The author intersperses these interesting concepts into a first-person account of his 17-day cross-country motorcycle trip with his son, so it makes sense that this book piqued my interest. Pirsig is a wonderful writer and this novel is beautifully written. I’m currently about halfway into this book and I can identify so much with the author’s lifelong refinement of his values and beliefs, as well as with the intricacies of traveling longer distance by motorcycle. (link)
Fyodor Dostoevsky has been my favorite author since high school and I really enjoyed Crime and Punishment (my all-time favorite) and The Brothers Karamazov. This 19th-century novel follows a saintly prince recently freed from a sanatorium and his return to society and people. I’ve been meaning to read this novel since 2010, starting over a winter break but never finishing it. I’m planning to restart from the beginning, and I recently found a free copy offered through Kindle so this is the next book on my list after Zen. (link)
Man’s Search for Meaning
This 1946 book by Viktor Frankl follows his experiences at Auschwitz and his exploration of how certain inmates’ responses to adversity allowed them to survive. I’m particularly interested in reading about his psychotherapeutic method, which involves immersively imagining the outcome of a goal in order to achieve it. (link)
My friends are always surprised to learn that I’ve never read this 20th-century classic about Big Brother and a futuristic society ruled by an oppressive regime. Orwell is one of my favorite writers – his essay on writing well, “Politics and the English Language,” was life changing for me. I’m also a huge sucker for stories set in dystopian societies (e.g. V for Vendetta and Watchmen), so this should be a treat! (link)
I’ll continue to add to this list as I progress during the year. If any of my readers have recommendations I would love to hear them!