What I’ve read since 2004 (when I started reading)
Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?” His reply:
- The Bible (eBook) – “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”
- The System of the World by Isaac Newton (eBook) – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”
- On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”
- Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”
- The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”
- The Art of War by Sun Tsu (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
- The Prince by Machiavelli (eBook – Audio Book) – “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”
Tyson concludes by saying: “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”
- Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths (even though it turns out the girl was already a big fan of I, Claudius).
- Richard Dawkins’ illustrated science book, The Magic of Reality.
- Any satirical works by Shakespeare and Chaucer. Find some in our collection of Free eBooks.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations (to explain what it could be like for young women to grow up in this world.)
- A Tale of Two Cities in particular, and any Dickens in general, since Dickens teaches children to love reading.
- Something by P.G. Wodehouse. How about Sunset at Blandings?
- And, when it comes to philosophy, a little Hume. David Hume, that is.