P.J. O’Rouke once said, “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
While I do think there is a place for cheesy romances and beach novels, a sharp mind needs the prodding of good book. If you love to read and enjoy to have your ways of thinking challenged, then you will love these 10 books. All of these books will challenge your world view and make your mental wheels turn as new worlds and ways of thought are illuminated. Plus, they will all make you look good if you die in the middle of reading it!
1. ‘Outliers: The Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell
““Who we are cannot be separated from where we’re from.”
Anything by Malcolm Gladwell is sure to educate you and change the way you think. This particular book is the third non-fiction book in a series. Gladwell examines the factors that contribute to success, and his findings will not be what you expect! You can buy it here!
2. ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values’ by Robert M. Pirsig
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”
This hefty novel is often considered to be an American cultural icon in literature. The book chronicles a man’s 17-day motorcycle journey with his son Chris from Minnesota to California. During the trip the unnamed protagonist muses and philosophies about the concept of ‘Quality’ and wrestles with his past. This book is not about ‘zen’ in the Bhuddist sense, and it’s not about motorcycles, but it will certainly make you think! You can buy it here!
3. ‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.”
This nineteenth century novel focuses on protagonist Edna Potellier’s struggle with femininity, motherhood, marriage and gender roles in a conservative Southern American turn-of-the-century culture. The surprising ending and conflicting consequences of this still relevant story will make you want to share it with all of your feminist friends and see what they think. You can buy it here!
4. ‘The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself’ by Michael A. Singer
“If you truly love someone, your love sees past their humanness”
Michael A. Singer offers a step-by-step guide through the process of Gyana, or Yoga of the Intellect, to the Source. Even if you aren’t fully sold on yoga or spirituality, this book will undoubtedly expose your mind to new and unique ways of viewing the universe and your identity. You can buy it here!
5. ‘This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking’ by John Brockman
“Every aspect of life is an experiment that can be better understood if it is perceived in that way.”
For people who love to think, what book is better than a book that improves your thinking! This collection of sharp, brilliant essays written by all of the world’s leader thinkers will improve your decision making skills and sharpen our cognitive tool kits. You can buy it here!
6. ‘The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace’ by John Paul Lederach
“Reconciliation is understood as both a place we are trying to reach and the journey that we take up with each other.”
John Paul Lederach is a leading voice in the international conciliation and mediation field. He has served as a consult and a direct mediator in conflicts all over the globe. In this book is explores the process of peace-building and reflects upon his experiences in the field. It is a remarkable text that will surely find application in your daily life. You can buy it here!
7. ‘Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think’ by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed
“Interestingly, the more Americans report knowing about Muslim countries, the more likely they are to hold positive views of those countries.”
In post-9/11 United States most Americans associate mainstream Islam with Islamic extremism. This book is the product of a massive six-year long study conducted by the Gallup organization. The interviewed, questioned and got to know tens of thousands of Muslims in 35 predominantly Muslim countries. This mammoth collection of data is synthesized into one fascinating book that will challenge and educate current streams of thought in the United States. You can buy it here!
8. ‘Invisible Cities’ by Italo Calvino
“Futures not achieved are only branches of the past: dead branches. ”
The 1972 novel, Invisible Cities, explores imagination, reality and memory through vivid and fantastical descriptions of cities through the narrator Marco Polo. The book is centered around a surreal conversation between Marco Polo and Emperor Kublai Khan where the two men discuss Khan’s desire for and struggles with his ever expanding empire. This experimental novel is as beautiful as it is complicated, and some of the descriptions will leave you reeling for days. You can buy it here!
9. ‘Philosophy: The Pursuit of Wisdom’ by Louis P. Pojman
“In a sense, philosophy is just hard thinking about the important issues of life.”
Louis P. Pojman makes this introduction to philosophical thought surprisingly fun and accessible. He presents major major philosophical veins of thought in clear, lively writing that is as entertaining as it is informative. If you are looking for an easy but quality ‘Philosophy 101’ book, then this is the book for you. You can buy it here!
10. ‘One Thousand Beautiful Things’ A collection by Marjorie Barrows
I inherited my grandmother’s copy of this book and the pages are worn thin and the spin is coming apart because I have returned to it time and time again. One Thousand Beautiful Things is a collection of poetry, prose, drama and quotation’s from all the world’s literature. It is drenched in thought provoking wisdom and breath-taking beauty. Every book shelf would be improved by the presence of this book. You can buy it here!
Featured photo credit: Abhi Sharma via flickr.com