The Essential Augustine by Saint Augustine of Hippo and Vernon J. Bourke
A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer
The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion by Mircea Eliade
Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection by Brian Grazer
The King Within: Accessing the King in the Male Psyche by Robert Moore Douglas Gillette, et al.
Psychotherapy East & West by Alan Watts
John F. Kennedy by Robert Dallek
Julius Caesar (Dover Thrift Editions) by William Shakespeare
How to Think About God : An Ancient Guide for Believer and Nonbelievers (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers) by Marcus Tullius Cicero and Philip Freeman
Eusebius: The Church History by Eusebius and Paul L. Maier
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Marina Zhigalova
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life and Death by Jean-Dominique Bagby and Jeremy Leggatt
The Wisdom of the Desert (New Directions) by Thomas Merton
The Essential Plotinus (Hackett Classics) by Plotinus and Elmer O’Brien S.J.
King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles
The Bhagavad Gita (Oxford World’s Classics) by W. J. Johnson
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung, James Cameron Stuart, et al.
Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals by Michael Hyatt
Medea (Masters of Latin Literature) by Seneca and Fredrick Ahl
Medea (Greek Tragedy in New Translations) by Euripides, Michael Collier, et al.
Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell
The Life and Ideas of James Hillman, Volume 1: The Making of a Psychologist by Dick Russell, Fred Sanders, et al.
Ancient Rhetoric: From Aristotle to Philostratus (Penguin Classics) by Thomas Habinek (Editor)
A Confession (Dover Books on Western Philosophy) by Leo Tolstoy and Aylmer Maude
The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient by William B. Irvine
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo
Carmine Gallo’s The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs had been sitting on my shelf unread for years. It was only after I read Gallo’s latest book, Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great that I knew I had to read this one, as well as The Storyteller’s Secret and Talk Like TED.
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs delivers on its title’s promise as Jobs’ secrets to being as “insanely great in front of any audience” as anyone who saw one of his keynote presentations (especially his later ones) or his 2005 Stanford commencement address knows. The fact that Jobs’s later speeches were even better than his earlier ones points to his greatest secret of all—practice. Jobs is widely believed to be “a natural” who needed no practice. Not so! The book is also a nice reminder of some of the greatest Apple ads.
No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh’s No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life was my eighth book by Hanh and every one of them has been enlightening. This one, in particular, helped me finally to understand a few key Zen Buddhist principles that had previously at least somewhat alluded me, even after reading seven other books by Hanh. At the same time, parts of this book read slower for me than had any other of the seven books by Hanh I had read. Still, it was worth the effort to gain a deeper understanding of Zen Buddhism. Hanh remains my favorite Zen Buddhist monk. I’ve learned more about Buddhism from him than I even could have from an outsider.
Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make Room for Happiness by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin’s Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organized to Make Room for Happiness, like her other books, is full of various ideas on how to achieve a happiness-related goal. I would recommend this book over Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as at least one of Konmari’s core ideas is included in it: holding objects and asking whether they “spark joy” (Rubin also includes an alternative question if Konmari’s doesn’t do it for you as it doesn’t do it for Rubin). That said, Konmari’s other core idea of gathering all like things Together before decluttering isn’t. Komari’s book is only really useful if one wants to find out whether her one-and-only-way of decluttering is the way one wants to go, or how to go about it if one has. I’d also recommend watching the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo if implementing her method. If you’d like to explore more than just Konmari’s one way of decluttering—lots more (is there anything Rubin didn’t think of)—and would enjoy Rubin’s references to great literature, then read Rubin.
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Silence: The Power of Quite in a World Full of Noise was my seventh book by Hanh and just the right one to read after reading Ryan Holiday’s Stillness is the Key. While the seven other books (among others) I had read by Hanh had already brought to my attention the need for silence in a noisy world, it was René Guénon’s The Crisis of the Modern World that so deeply resonated with me and had me begin insatiably to crave not only silence, but darkness. Both are hard to come by in today’s world. When I say silence, I mean not even the sound of the refrigerator or A/C unit; and when I say darkness, I mean not even the little light from the surge protector or the power adapter plugged into it, yet alone the street lamp or neighbor’s light outside one’s window. “Progress” comes at a cost. Hahn, Holiday, and Guénon speak to this cost with varying levels of intensity, in the order I’ve listed them. While we may not be able to turn back the tide of “progress,” as Guénon laments,—and the cost may be higher than even Hanh discusses—we are still, thankfully, able to escape from it, if only temporarily in nature (its sounds count as silence) or, even in the midst of our noisy world, in still meditation. As for darkness, I use, and recommend using, a sleeping mask.
Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday’s Stillness Is the Key is Holiday’s (age 32 years) ninth book and his fifth Stoicism-themed book, and is sure to be a bestseller like all the rest. Reading one of Holiday’s four books written after the manner of his mentor, Robert Greene, is, like reading Greene’s own books, like reading a couple of hundred books at one time, or, at least, like gleaning the lessons from them. Stillness Is the Key is one of these four books and is no exception to the rule.
Annals and Histories (Everyman’s Library) by
Tacitus’s Annals cover the reigns of Tiberius (AD 14-37), Claudius (AD 41-54), and Nero (AD 54-68) and his Histories cover the “year of the four emperors” (AD 69). The emperors covered by Tacitus are fewer than those covered by Suetonius in his Lives of the Caesars, which includes Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero among others—the preceding two Julio-Claudians, Julius Caesar and Augustus, Caligula, whose reign falls in between Tiberius’s and Claudius’s (AD 37-41), as well as the first six successors to the Julio-Claudians, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian)—but Tacitus’s Annals go into deeper detail than Suetonius’s Lives of the Caesars on Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero and his Histories cover the “year of the four emperors,” Suetonius also doesn’t cover. If you’re interested in the lives of the Caesars, start with Suetonius, and then read Tacitus. For the later Caesars, read Marcellinus.
Living Buddha, Living Christ: 20th Anniversary Edition by Thich Nhat Hanh (Author), Elaine Pagels (Introduction)
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ does two things and does both well: (1) It takes a comparative religion approach to Buddhism and Christianity, giving both Buddhists and Christians a better sense of each other’s religion, and (2) invites Buddhists and Christians to embrace the common ground they share with each other—and other believers—and peace. The former is done with great awareness and sensitivity; the latter with the wisdom of both the Buddha and the Christ that cuts to the core of inner peace and the outer peace that can only come from that inner peace.
Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living was my fifth book by my favorite Zen Buddhist monk. A long-time peace activist (Hanh, a native of Vietnam, advocated for peace during the Vietnam War alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated Hanh for a Nobel Peace Prize), Hanh shares his knowledge and experience of how to create inner peace that radiates outward to the levels of society and the environment.
The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books) by Robert Greene (Author)
Robert Greene’s The 33 Strategies of War was the third out of six books he wrote and the last I read. All of the other one’s were more appealing to me as a peace activist. Nevertheless, the lessons Greene culls from history with his usual keenness of insight go beyond war to the everyday, including an excellent exposition of Machiavelli’s (and Greene’s) rhetorical strategies.
The King of the World (The Collected Works of Rene Guenon) by Rene Guenon (Author), James R. Wetmore (Author), Henry Fohr (Author)
René Guénon’s The King of the World is a fascinating read. Guénon draws connections between all of the revealed religious traditions (that for him all stem from a primordial one) to explicate the idea of the king of the world.
The Crisis of the Modern World (The Collected Works of Rene Guenon) by René Guénon Guénon (Author), James R. Wetmore (Editor), Arthur Osborne (Translator)
René Guénon’s The Crisis of the Modern World is a scathing critique of modernity that, regardless of whether you agree with his Perennialist / Traditionalist diagnosis, is is difficult to dispute. Guénon, a metaphysician, laid the foundation for the Perennialist / Traditionalist school. Today, the Dark Enlightenment / Neoreactionary movement is arguably founded on a misunderstanding of Guénon’s work, if not on his work itself. Too, modern “spirituality” without religion is arguably founded on a misunderstanding of Guénon’s work, if not on his work. His work is hugely controversial.
Al-Shariah, Ijtihad and Civilisational Renewal (Occasional Paper) by Mohammed Hashim Kamali (Author), Dr. Anas S. Al Shaikh-Ali (Editor), Shiraz Khan (Editor)
Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius
Suetonius’s Lives of the Twelve Caesars is a Classic critique of corrupt Caesars from the eponymous Julius Caesar to Domitian. It is required reading for Models of Excellence, the Online Instructor-led Classical Education for Teens I founded, though only the author is a model of excellence (as a writer). The Caesars themselves are anti-models of excellence to varying degrees of disgust. The lesson of Suetonius was, perhaps, best expressed by Lord Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” Suetonius’s Lives of the Twelve Caesars makes this lesson clear.
The Argonautika by
Maqasid Al-Shariah Made Simple (Occasional Paper) (Occasional Papers) by
The Book of Certainty: The Sufi Doctrine of Faith, Vision and Gnosis (Islamic Texts Society) by
Illuminated Prayers by
The Metamorphoses (Signet Classics) by
The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now by
Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career by
Beowulf by Stephen Mitchell (Translator)
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation (Bilingual Edition) by
Lying by Sam Harris and Annaka Harris
The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History (Mythos: The Princeton/Bollingen Series in World Mythology) by
Mircea Eliade’s The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History was for me quake reading, as it introduced me to a new paradigm: traditional man’s “anhistorical” way of being (i.e., outside of chronological time). This isn’t to say that he saw himself outside of biological time; he knew he was growing old and would eventually die, but performed sacred acts that unbound him from chronological time and returned him to illo tempore (lit. that time) his profane acts had taken him out of and restored him from chaos to cosmos.
Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography by
Huston Smith’s Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography was truly a wonderful tale of a life of adventure in practicing (not just studying) and teaching world religions from the inventor of comparative religion. Smith is an exemplary scholar.
A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt–And Why They Shouldn’t by
Bill Irvine’s A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt–And Why They Shouldn’t is one of a number of books on philosophy as a way of life (specifically Stoicism) by Dr. Irvine and it’s just as good as all the others. Dr. Irvine does in this book what philosophers do best in asking lots of questions one untrained in the philosophical method would not think to ask and what the average philosopher today doesn’t do well at all today in asking useful questions and offering relevant answers—answers that lead to the good life.
The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius
Boethius’s The Consolation of Philosophy is the book in which the idea of God existing outside of time was first introduced, as far as I can tell (If it turns out I’m wrong, please let me know!) Read it to find out why and see whether it is a satisfactory answer to the “problem” it purports to solve!
The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate by
The Good Life Handbook:: Epictetus’ Stoic Classic Enchiridion by
Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by
Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself by
Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra changed my life. It’s the story of how one man went from world-ranked college athlete to alcoholic to alcoholic corporate lawyer to recovering alcoholic corporate lawyer who, after he got winded climbing a flight of stairs, changed his behavior and became a plant-powered world-ranked ultra-athlete, answering for himself the question, what’s possible if I make up my mind? The answer for him and for you is, much more than you think! This book isn’t about going vegan (although I did immediately after I read it) or becoming an ultra-athlete (I don’t even have the faintest desire to do that!) It’s about finding your own ultra—whatever that is. By “finding” is meant not only figuring out what it is, but achieving it despite the odds. You will be inspired if you read this book. The Rich Roll Podcast is also inspiring.
The Lost World of the Flood: Mythology, Theology, and the Deluge Debate by
The Niche of Lights (Brigham Young University – Islamic Translation Series) by
Al-Ghazali’s Niche of Lights is a work I’m centireding for my PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies. It is a Neoplatonic Sufi exegesis of the Light Verse and Veils Hadith despite the authors apparent rejection of Neoplatonism. That’s what makes it interesting to me. You might find it interesting on the face of it for its mystical (Sufism is Islamic mysticism) treatment of the manifold layers of reality both seen and unseen. The verse and hadith itself speak to something primordial within the human soul, even without any exegesis:
God is the light
of the heavens and the earth
The simile of God’s light
is like a niche in which is a lamp,
the lamp is a globe of glass,
the globe of glass as if it were a shining star,
lit from a blessed olive tree
neither of the East nor of the West,
its light nearly luminous
even if fire did not touch it.
Light upon light!
God guides to this light
whomever God will:
and God gives people examples:
and God knows all things.
(āyat al-nūr, Qurʾan 24:35)
God has seventy veils of light and darkness; were He to lift them, the august glories of His face would burn up everyone whose eyesight perceived him.
(the Veils Hadith)
Theogony and Works and Days: A New Bilingual Edition (Northwestern World Classics) by Hesiod (Author), Kimberly Johnson (Translator)
Kimberly Johnson’s translation of Hesiod’s Theogeny and Works and Days is my translation of choice for these two works. My criteria for choosing it, as is usual for me when choosing a translation of a poem is its poetry. If you’re looking for a more literal translation, buy the Loeb Classical Library edition.
This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson
Donald Robertson’s How to Think Like a Roman Emperor tells Robertson’s own story as well as Marcus Aurelius’s to teach the reader how to be Stoic. Robertson knows his Stoicism in general and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations in particular, as well as the source on Marcus’s life and invents, what isn’t known when necessary to tell a tale to teach his reader Stoicism. If you are interested in Stoicism and like learning from stories, this book is for you.
Everything is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson
Working by Robert Caro
Robert Caro’s Working was written by Caro while writing the fifth of five planned volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, and those who do not, what he has been up to since he started working on The Power Broker in 1964. If you are one of the ones who does not, then you owe it to yourself immediately to find out. If you are one of the one who knows, then Caro wrote this so you would have something to read while you wait for that above-mentioned fifth volume he’s painstakingly working on right now. Caro is a consummate researcher and writer. Even if you don’t read any other book Caro wrote (and you surely will after you read this one), you owe it to yourself to read this one if nothing else to learn of the craft of writing that is the antithesis of the sound-byte of news or the SNS post.
The Original of Laura by Vladimir Nabokov and Dmitri Nabokov
The Writing Life by Annie Dilliard
Medea by Euripides and Robin Robertson
Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse by David Ferry
Seeing Red: A Study in Consciousness (Mind/brain/behavior Initiative) by Nicholas Humphrey
Stop Doing That Sh*t: End Self-Sabotage and Demand Your Life Back by Gary John Bishop
TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor by Anthony Everitt
The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
Propaganda by Edward Bernays
Five Stars: The Communication Secrets to Get from Good to Great by Carmine Gallo
On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings (Harper Perennial Modern Thought) by Friedrich Nietzsche
Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life by Edith Hall
Mein Kampf (The Ford Translation) by Adolf Hitler (Author) and Michael Ford (Editor)
The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives by Plutarch (Author), James Romm (Editor), Pamela Mensch (Translator), Mary Beard (Foreword)
Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician by Anthony Everitt
The Civil War (Oxford World’s Classics) by Julius Caesar (Author), J. M. Carter (Translator)
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
The Second Book of the Tao by Stephen Mitchell
The Gallic War: Seven Commentaries on The Gallic War with an Eighth Commentary by Aulus Hirtius (Oxford World’s Classics) by Julius Caesar (Author), Carolyn Hammond (Translator)
Inadvertent (Why I Write) by Karl Ove Knausgaard (Author), Ingvild Burkey (Translator)
How to Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to Anger Management (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers) by Seneca (Author), James S. Romm (Translator, Introduction)
Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions by Alberto Manguel (Author)
Fall of the Roman Republic (Penguin Classics) by Plutarch (Author), Robin Seager (Editor, Introduction), Rex Warner (Translator)
The Rise of the Roman Empire (Penguin Classics) Reprint Edition by Polybius (Author), Ian Scott-Kilvert (Translator), F. W. Walbank (Introduction)
This is required reading for my Models of Excellence program with my kids.
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
There’s not much here that isn’t covered by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, though that’s philosophy and this is social science. We’re so enamored with science and so ignorant of the philosophical Classics.
Al-Ghazzali’s Mishkat al-Anwar (“The Niche for Lights”) by W. H. T. Gairdner
I’m centireading this. That said, I’m not centireading this edition, but this one: The Niche of Lights (Brigham Young University – Islamic Translation Series) by Al-Ghazali (Author), David Buchman. I read this edition to once read the introduction and translation of Gairdner just for good measure.
The History of Rome, Volume 2, Books 6-10 by Titus Livy by William Mafsen Roberts
This is required reading for my Models of Excellence program with my kids.
The History of Rome, Volume 1, Books 1-5 by Titus Livy, William Mafsen Roberts
This is required reading for my Models of Excellence program with my kids.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
This book was recommended to me by my friend, Gus Hartman, who reads a lot too. It was one of his top two recommendations from among the books he read in 2018.
The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition by Grant Hardy (Editor)
740 pages | 25 hrs and 19 mins | Read
How to Be a Friend: An Ancient Guide to True Friendship (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers) by Marcus Tullius Cicero and Philip Freeman
208 pages | 1 hr and 36 mins | Read
Marcus Tullius Cicero’s and Philip Freeman’s How to Be a Friend
The Essential Marcus Aurelius (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions) by Jacob Needleman and John Piazza
144 pages | | Read
Jacob Needleman’s and John Piazza’s The Essential Marcus Aurelius
How to Be Free: An Ancient Guide to the Stoic Life (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers) by Epictetus and Anthony Long
232 pages | 1 hr and 55 mins | Read
Anthony Long’s How to Be Free
The Undiscovered Self: The Dilemma of the Individual in Modern Society by C. G. Jung
128 pages | | Read
C. G. Jung’s The Undiscovered Self
The Road to Serfdom – Special Abridged Edition by Friedrick A. Hayek and Edwin J Feulner
48 pages | | Read
Edwin J Feulner special abridged edtion of The Road to Serfdom
Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Adam J. Silverstein
176 pages | 4 hrs and 31 mins | Lied
Adam J. Silverstein’s Islamic History: A Very Short Introduction
Fascism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions Book 77) by Kevin Passmore
184 pages | 6 hrs and 4 mins | Lied
Kevin Passmore’s Fascism: A Very Short Introduction
The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Write…The Ultimate PhD Proposal by Thomas M. Saunders
37 pages | | Read
Thomas M. Saunders’ The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need To Write…The Ultimate PhD Proposal
Freud: A Very Short Introduction by Anthony Storr
176 pages | 3 hrs and 55 mins | Lied
Anthony Storr’s Freud: A Very Short Introduction
Darwin’s Origin of Species: Books That Changed the World by Janet Browne
192 pages | 4 hrs and 23 mins | Lied
Janet Brown’s Darwin’s Origin of Species
Marx’s Das Kapital: A Biography (Books That Changed the World) by Francis Wheen
144 pages | 3 hrs and 16 mins | Lied
Francis Wheen’s Marx’s Das Kapital
Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man (Books That Changed the World) by Christopher Hitchens
320 pages | 3 hrs and 36 mins | Lied
Christopher Hitchen’s Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man
You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment by Thich Nhat Hanh and Melvin McLeod
160 pages | 3 hrs and 54 mins | Lied
Thich Nhat Hanh’s You Are Here
Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday
176 pages | 2 hrs and 17 mins | Lied
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
288 pages | 2 hrs and 50 mins | Lied
Jason Fried’s and David Heinemeier Hansson’s Rework
The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll
320 pages | 5 hrs and 43 mins | Lied
Ryder Carrols’ The Bullet Journal Method
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
320 pages | 5 hrs and 35 mins | Lied
James Clear’s Atomic Habits
The 50th Law by 50 Cent and Robert Greene
304 pages | 8 hrs and 16 mins | Lied