Chad Perrin: SOB

20 January 2009

not my reading list

Filed under: Geek,Lists — apotheon @ 02:26

I talked to Mina (of Smushee fame) about good economics reads. In the course of the discussion, she mentioned her Books I need to read list. I figure I’ll share my thoughts on the list.

  • A Tale of Two Cities; I started reading it when I was in high school, but didn’t get far. I decided my time was better spent reading something else. Maybe I should try it again some day, but it’s not on my list right now.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo; I’ve never read it, tried to read it, or really thought about reading it. Maybe I will some day — especially if I survive past the Singularity.
  • Man, Economy, and State; It’s one of the seminal works of economics, by all accounts, and I intend to read it eventually. This one, by Murray Rothbard, is on my list.
  • Human Action; Written by Ludwig von Mises — the “father” of the Austrian School of economics — this is another important economic work, and is also on my list of books to read.
  • Attention Deficit Democracy; I don’t really know too much about it, but it sounds good. I’ll look into it when I have time.
  • Democracy: The God that Failed; I hear good things about it, but it isn’t on my list (yet).
  • Ethics of Liberty; Written jointly by Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe (the author of Democracy: The God that Failed), it too is on my list, and is another seminal work of economics.
  • The latter half of the Dune Series; I should probably get around to this some day, but it has been put off because of the fact that I’d have to reread the first half of the series. This assumes she’s talking about the latter half of the original series, since I have zero interest in the books written since Frank Herbert’s death.
  • The Art of War; For some reason, I haven’t yet been able to get all the way through it, even though the translations I’ve seen are pretty easy to read. Maybe I should try again soon.
  • Tao Te Ching; I’ve read several different translations/interpretations, and actually started working on my own. My project has been on hold for a while, though, as other projects have taken priority. If you’re considering reading the Tao Te Ching for the first time, though, I recommend avoiding Thomas Cleary’s incredibly biased version. Stephen Mitchell’s was much better. You can always check out my overview of Taoist books I’ve encountered if you want more detail about relevant work.
  • Anything by Heinlein; Obviously, Stranger in a Strange Land is the classic, but I think The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers are both better and more important (to say nothing of the fact that the differences between Starship Troopers and the movie loosely inspired by it are more important than the similarities). The Door Into Summer was one of his best, even if it didn’t make Big Important Points quite the way those other two do. I also quite liked The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Meanwhile, Friday is mostly space-bimbo fluff.
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Oh, yes — awesome. I think So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is Douglas Adams’ best book, and I think I’ve read all his novels, but the original Hitchhiker trilogy should definitely be read first.
  • The Golden Compass series; I thought The Golden Compass was a good, easy, quick read, and worth it for the cultural relevance, but it isn’t the Great Work of Literature that everybody seems to think it is.
  • The Federalist Papers; Obviously, everybody should read this — including me. I’ve only gotten partway through it the one time I tried.
  • The Anti-Federalist Papers; It’s the perfect sequel to The Federalist Papers, naturally.
  • The Catcher in the Rye; I loved it when I read it in high school. It’s one of the best “coming of age” stories I’ve ever encountered.
  • Of Mice and Men; I haven’t read it, and don’t know much about it — just what one hears when people talk about having read it in school, basically.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front; I know even less about this than Of Mice and Men.
  • 1984; Read it. Seriously. Read it now. Drop everything and read it.
  • The Screwtape Letters; The quality of this book is just mind-boggling. It’s worth reading on many levels — for its ruminations on human nature and an interesting perspective on religious faith most of all, I think.
  • The Silmarillion; I’ve given up on Tolkien. His world-building skills were prodigious, but his narrative voice was a bucket of ass.
  • Wealth of Nations; This is the seminal work of economics. It is, in fact, the book that basically established economics as an independent area of study. Obviously, it’s on my list.
  • Freakonomics; This is one of two economics books I actually own — though that’ll change as soon as the copy of Economics in One Lesson I ordered actually arrives.
  • The Machinery of Freedom; It’s a Friedman book, and probably good (the whole family is well-regarded in economics circles), but it isn’t on my list (yet). Edit: I just added it.
  • Economics for Real People; Also on my list, this book has been recommended pretty much everywhere I’ve seen it discussed as either the perfect prequel or the perfect sequel to Economics in One Lesson.


  1. Good economic reads reminds me of “good eats”. It seems appropriate; some books are devoured, some are savoured, and one should always give time to digest.

    Comment by Mina — 21 January 2009 @ 01:13

  2. And some books are so bad you don’t retain them at all, hah.

    Comment by Mina — 21 January 2009 @ 01:16

  3. I love Tolkein, but the Silmarillion was hard going. I don’t think Tolkein ever intended those notes to become a book.

    The Art of War is another favorite of mine. It applies to so many situations.

    What do you think of the D.C. Lau translation of the Tao Te Ching?

    I didn’t care much for The Screwtape Letters — perhaps because I was already leaving religious faith behind at the time I read it.

    Comment by Sterling Camden — 22 January 2009 @ 06:42

  4. Mina:

    I think you’ve stumbled onto a particularly apt way of thinking about reading.


    I haven’t read the D.C. Lau translation of the Tao Te Ching, but now that I know it’s freely available online I’ll probably give it a read soon.

    C.S. Lewis is the kind of Christian philosopher I wished people would cite when they try to argue in favor of Christianity. Instead, people tend to cite charlatans and scam artists, indicating to me that most people’s brand of Christianity is nothing I care to even stand near. The experience of having read The Screwtape Letters makes me want to read Mere Christianity, but I haven’t yet done so.

    Once I became aware of C.S. Lewis’ Christian leanings, the religious philosophy themes in the Chronicles of Narnia became inescapably obvious to me. I only read The Screwtape Letters some years after that, and it was perhaps the profoundly well-reasoned philosophy that was presented in Chronicles of Narnia that made me more receptive to the intellectual value of The Screwtape Letters. In short, I think it’s the fact I was already convinced he was a smart, open-minded philosopher of Christianity — rather than a mindless follower — that prompted my enjoyment of The Screwtape Letters.

    One of these days, I fully intend to get around to reading some St. Augustine of Hippo, too. He strikes me as a remarkably clear thinker for his time, too, based on what I know of the man.

    Comment by apotheon — 23 January 2009 @ 12:44

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