I do all my reading today on an electronic device – my Kindle. This is not a complaint as I love my Kindle – I can take all my books with me wherever I go it’s small, light, lasts for weeks on a full charge and is superb in almost any light conditions.
My book collection, sadly, has gone – boxed up and sold off. This was a hard thing to do as looking down the spines of so many fine books contained the memory of both what was contained therein but also of the time during which I read the book – what I was doing, who I was with.
What I miss most of all is the opportunity to gather together a small group of books which I could recommend to my children, currently aged 5 and 7. Books to inspire, to teach critical thinking and hopefully to give them the courage to be different – to be the purple thread and not the white – Epictetus.
These are the first 5 books.
Free to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton and Rose Friedman
This stunning book was given to me over 30 years ago by my economics teacher (sadly I can’t remember his name – pity, he was a great guy)
The economics of Conservative values, self-reliance, personal responsibility, a respect for the right of others to live as they chose and a distrust of state interference.
As Friedman is keen to point out (although this is from another of his books) Freedom and Capitalism are, in many cases, one and the same. State provision is more often state control at the expense of your freedoms.
Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich
This book is primarily aimed at men but it does have a female following: mothers who do not want their sons to be emasculated by a failing education system and PC sanitised environments that remove all danger and excitement from daily life.
The techniques in the book can easily be applied by both sexes. Although one of a myriad of self-improvement books this book focuses on mindset which, is a personal choice and something we have control over.
A great book – I read it once every year and plan to continue to do so – a yearly reminder to avoid falling into the trap of taking the meaningless things in life too seriously whilst missing the pleasure to be gained by just sitting in a beautiful spot and reading a good book and doing something crazy once in a while.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The original and arguably still the best people skills book. First published in 1937. Carnegie’s style fantastically readable, very personable and has examples from the likes of Abraham Lincoln – a great read.
Ironically this book was recommended to me by the most socially inept irritant it has ever been my misfortune to work with. Dilbert could not do this person justice, if he did read this book applied it in reverse.
Much of the book seems like common sense: “You can’t win an argument”, “If you’re wrong admit it”, “Let the other person save face”. Seemingly obvious stuff – common sense but not common practice.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A fantastic book much of the discussion of which seems to focus on Dickens’ role in popularising the modern take on Chrismas – turkey, snow, church bells and mulled wine.
Personally, I love the idea that a person can take stock of his/her life – the lost ideals of their youth, their current wretched state and what woes lies ahead if they continue unchanged -and, most importantly, to be able to make a change for the better.
The story of redemption resonates very strongly, combined with Christmas, ghosts and some social commentary it’s no wonder this is such a classic.
Added to the above is Dickens’ stunning writing style – the quality of his English is from a bygone era and a pleasure to read in the era of badly written social media – such as this blog.
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
It’s surprising, or maybe it’s not, that so many people seem stressed and miserable. For those of us lucky enough to live in a developed economy we live with more wealth and abundance than a King could have commanded at virtually any point in history. Chapter after chapter in Ridley’s book shows just how tough the past was and just how amazingly lucky we are to be born now.
The media bombards us with image after image of the worst the world has to offer – “if it bleeds it leads”. Coupled with the anxious reliance on social media and snowflake sensitivity that pervades modern culture you’d think we lived in the Dark Ages with the Mongol Hordes about lay waste to the place. Mass panic and collective weeping because the Black Death is back – nope, something far worse, a person we don’t like is President of the USA – FFS!
This book puts the more sensible view that we have so much to be grateful and happy for so we should get our heads out our collective arses and put a smile on our face.