T Nation

Bookworms' Thread

I found an old thread on this topic, but it’s from way back.

Finally, I’m getting back into reading after a pretty long hiatus, and I’d love to see another place for discussion about the wide world of books.

I reckon I might start with this:

“Given no other choice, would you rather live in something similar to Orwell’s dystopia, as in 1984, or a world more akin to Huxley’s utopia, as in Brave New World? Why? What sets them apart?”

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Check out:


This was a creative way to attempt to get the forum to do your homework.


:joy::joy::joy: I promise it wasn’t. I’ve finished my english course and graduate in a week.

Anyways my response was that I’d rather live in the utopia. Though (most) citizens in both worlds are completely unaware of the restriction of their own liberties, all those who lived in Huxley’s London were afforded the greatest pleasures they knew. Furthermore, dissenters to the World Controllers eere still allowed to exercise their personal freedoms, only separated from mainstream society. In contrast, dissidents in Orwell’s world were ‘re-conditioned’ or ‘obliterated’ (I’m pretty sure that was the term in the book) and vanished entirely. Moreover, those in Orwell’s world weren’t afforded any hedonistic pleasures, and were slowly being transformed into a state where they were unable to register dissatisfaction. This is pretty polarising to people who were far too wrapped up in their worldly pleasures to be dissatisfied.

It’s interesting though that both the utopian and dystopian worlds have firm class systems, and work to control the masses through sex/pornography, though still sharing what seem to be strong military powers.

Also, even though I think the utopia would be a better place to live, I personally find that world far more terrifying than that in 1984

Was my question way too specific? I always feel like a lot of people on this site are far more experienced and intelligent than I am, so I was trying to cater to that.


What book(s) would you recommend for someone wanting an introduction to philosphy? I’m thinking of picking up The Republic.

Would honestly depend on what sort of philosophy you find interesting. I don’t particularly care for metaphysics, so I don’t read much in that direction. I’m far more interested in existentialism.

If you’re just wanting an introduction to the idea of philosophy in general, then the Greeks are a great place to start as far as Western philosophy goes. Republic isn’t a hard read. Having said that, I didn’t care too much for ancient philosophy, so I’m pretty far out of my element after that.

If you want to read Nietzsche, but you also want to be able to understand him, read “The Anti-Christ”. Irrespective of your religious leanings, it’s probably the most straight forward read of his. All of his other works, you can tell he’s dancing around the words and enjoying the process of writing, while with Anti-Christ he’s very much gone to battle. Otherwise, read Schopenhauer, as he was a major influence on Nietzsche but much easier to read.

Yeah this is me. I know squat about philosophy, but I’m really interested to learn more. I might grab the Republic then, as copies are fairly cheap.

Will do. I want to read Nietzsche, purely because I’ve heard I should - like I said, I know virtually nothing about this topic.

I’d probably give his stuff a read first, then.

Cheers :slight_smile:

Plato’s good - Aristotle is good.

I’ve been reading the Stoics lately (I do like ancient Greek and Roman philosophy).

The Stoics are bit more practical - especially Seneca (Letters from a Stoic is good). Epictetus’ Discourse and Enchiridion are good but my favorite from the ancient Stoics is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius…

Also I really like Enlightenment era political philosophy … I’ve dabbled a bit in Locke and Hume. Read pretty deeply Adam Smith - haven’t finished Wealth of Nations but I’m about half way through it - and Theory of Moral Sentiment is a must read. Also, JS Mill “On Liberty” is a must read…

I’d rather be Piggy in Lord of the Flies…

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Stoicism is about fusing logic and ethical conduct, correct? If so, that sounds like something I’d be very interested in.

Was the Enlightenment the same period as the Age of Reason (18th century)? I find a lot of the art/music that came out of that time fascinating, and political philosphy is something else that I’d like to look into.

Thanks for the tip

Why not go the whole 9 yards and the pig head on a stick?

I feel like it’s important to read the works of Epictetus prior to Marcus. Allows you se see how his teachings evolved in a younger mind into its own form.

I actually carry a coin in my pocket everyday with Memento Mori with a remediation of “Still Life with a Skull” engraved on one side, “you could leave life right now” from Meditations engraved on the other. Google Daily Stoic for it, great thing to have as a practicing stoic to help ground you daily.


If I could summarize the parts of stoicism that to me are the most impactful and meanful in adopting in my life, it would mostly be in detachment and the concept of memento mori. For me it helps serve as an operating system for my brain.

Basically in life there are two things, that which you can control and that which you cannot. Stoicism helps you separate from and not expend undue energy on things you cannot, and take better control of things you can. Memento mori, which bacially means ‘remember you will die’ forces you to confront and accept your own mortality. It is meant to humble you and help you focus on what is actually important.


Ohhhh. If anything this is something I struggle with

Considering Aurelius was largely influenced by the teachings of Epictetus, I’d say so - along with the fact that Aurelius’s Meditations were largely him applying stoic philosophy to practical life.

This is one of the reasons I like Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius - he’s essentially taking Licilius’ real life problems and suggesting stoic solutions or approaches to them…

I have the Complete works of Epictetus (Discourses, Enchiridion, some other writings) and it’s been great to read a few passages and stew on them.

So I went to my local bookstore, couldn’t find any books on stoicism, but they had Nietzsche and The Republic.

I ended up buying War and Peace to read on an upcoming holiday, but I’m planning to buy The Republic and Zarasthura (I think that’s how it’s spelt) because they seemed right up my alley. I’ll look around for Epictetus

If you want an easier to digest modern look at stoicism, I’d suggest Ryan Holiday.



Also, Massimo Pigliucci is a modern day scholar on stoicism


If you’re into Russian literature, I’d recommend Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamzov by Doestoyevsky … he’s probably my favorite fiction writer

But Tolstoy is a damn fine author as well … love me some Russian lit

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Bought that as well, the premise sounds incredible.

I’ve never read any Russian lit, but I love the music/history from the area and time. Seeing as these books were highly recommended from both my music and history teachers, I thought I’d give them a go

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The biggest problem I have with their works, is that I like to listen to audio books these days. It is hard to do it with these because just one sentence has so much in it to deconstruct and truly savor to get its full meaning that you have to constantly pause. I can put down a 500 page fiction novel in a few days. It took me a solid month to read Discourses.

Anyone who does want to get into this stuff, view reading them like how you would slowly savor a desert.

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I will have to check him out! Thanks for the suggestion.

I have not been a big fan of some of the modern stoicism books. It is like people are trying to butcher the philosophy into self help or business books. “The Obstacle is the Way” comes to mind when I say that. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**K” and “UnF*ck Yourself” as well, although there are not bad books by any means, I just find a funny conflict with intentionally trying to ‘commercialize’ material of such a subject. The former again is not a bad book, but it is also not a good intro into the philosophy as it preaches by its intent while the latter takes almost a ‘shock jock’ approach to attract audiences.

The thing is I don’t “seek” out this stuff … it’s just what is within my interests and it tends to be Russian…

I hear ya bud … I learned that with content rich books they’re best read while more biographies or business type books are do-able in audio form (12 Steps for Life, Dichotomy of Leadership, Biographies, histories, etc.). I listened my way through about 50 hours of “Washington - A life” on my commute to work earlier this year and am about to dive back into “Grant” which is a little over 50 hours. I just finished 12 Steps for life and Extreme Leadership (Jocko Wilnick) in audio format.

Tried listening to “Theory of Moral Sentiment” by Adam Smith but it’s just too damn dense and complex for, what amounts to, a more passive experience.

Some things are just better read…

That’s how I feel about it too … I much prefer the books we’ve mentioned earlier tbh … although I read Musonius Rufus recently and I wasn’t a big fan of him … I much prefer Epictetus, Seneca and Aurelius.

Although if you get a chance, check out “Rome’s Last Citizen” By Rob Goodman - it’s about Cato the Younger who was a Senator when Julius Caesar took over and was an ardent opponent to him as well as a practicing and vocal Stoic - if you’re unfamiliar with him.

It’s a damn good biography and one that’s good to listen to…