Books I have recently rediscovered — Gould, Hesse, Chernow, Hofstadter, Burroughs, and more

I’m looking over a bookshelf that I haven’t looked at in a while and there are some books I really fondly remember there. (And also a lot of books I have no memory of.) I am reflecting on how I really want to spend my time reading — I want to read more of these impactful books, and probably read fewer of the ones that are basically junk food.

Some of the great titles that caught my eye:

  • The Sparrow by Mary Doris Russell. What a great book exploring morals and culture and misunderstanding.
  • The Wild Party by Joseph Moncure March. I am not deep into poetry but this is nothing but fun. I’ve read this several times.
  • The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. Probably needs some updating but an unvarnished look at one aspect of the British empire.
  • The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould. Everything by Gould is excellent, this may be among the most important.
  • The Strange Death of Liberal England by George Dangerfield. A fascinating and literary history tale. The title alone makes this book 100x more interesting than most history books.
  • Titan by Ron Chernow. Learned so much about the growth of Standard Oil, and all the good and bad along the way.
  • On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers. Powers has written some powerfully entertaining stories, and never got the renown he deserved.
  • Godël, Escher, Bach by Douglas R Hofstadter. I’d recommend this to everyone. Definitely a desert island read. UPDATE: a reader suggests this one has not aged well, I may crack it open again.
  • The Education of a Speculator by Victor Niederhoffer. Gets mixed reviews but I think that is because people expect to learn investment secrets in here, which is not what this book is about. It is more about the human side of his life.
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. Whether you are a Christian or not, this is incredibly insightful and engaging. I’ve read many times.
  • A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I am sure this has aged horribly and I should probably be embarrassed about this one. But as a kid, this was a great rollicking adventure.
  • The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse. This hit me hard when I first read it, very introspective look at finding meaning and place in life.

I’d love to hear about books others have rediscovered…

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