T Nation

Intellectual books?

The last few years of my life have been a bit of a waste. Can’t say I haven’t had a good time, but I’ve finally seen through the haze of, blunts, beers, protein shakes, weights and long hours at work. I have decided what I want to do with myself, finally (I’m 21). I want to start a career in physical thearpy. My problem is I have recently started picking up books again, and realized how out of practice I really am. I can’t remember the last time I read a book, its been at least 6 years. My ability to hold an intelligent conversation and my ability to spell have significantly diminished over the years. I am hoping a few of you would be able to recommend a couple of intellectual books I could read, to stimulate my mind. Right now I am in the middle of “How we think” by the philosipher John Dewey, its actually quite interesting. Thanks for any suggestions.

“The Art of War” by Sun Zu

Finnegan’s Wake should get you going.

I have also read that book, Candyman.

Have you checked out Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces”? It isn’t intellectual, but it is deep, and one of those books that needs to be reread during every transitory period of life.

Hmmm… If we want something a bit different, but highly fascinating, check out Ellul’s “Propaganda.”
He was a prolific French philosopher that mainly delved into the conditions and effects of the technological society.

Or maybe try the American, Brand Blanshard. He is rather obscure in notoriety, but a lucid philosopher of rational humanism.

A challenging read is Erving Goffman’s “Frame Analysis” which explores the contextualization of experience, but worthwhile.

Alright, I am beginning to sound less like a punk and more like a geek…

I think just about any type of reading can improve a person, even “light” books. If you enjoy the intellectual stuff, that’s great, but don’t make yourself miserable reading it if you really don’t. Pick up a book by a popular author instead and read for fun. The single factor that separates many of the “have’s” and the “have not’s” is reading for pleasure. It’s shocking really.

That being said, nothing got me thinking like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead both by Ayn Rand. Start with Fountainhead, it’s easier to digest. And no, you don’t have to go for her whole Objectivism philosophy to enjoy the books.

I also got a lot from books of quotations back in my college years. These are a good way to get a grasp on many different philosophies without trudging through tome after tome. The “Great Thoughts” series was always a favorite of mine.

Also, look into audio books. These are great. I “read” over 50 extra books a year at least by using audio books. Just always buy or rent unabridged volumes. (Public libraries also have tons of these for free.) This has been a very busy week for me, yet I’ve already digested two books using audio. I “read” them doing yard work, doing cardio, shaving, driving, etc.

hooked on monkey phonics

I particulalarly books written by Ken Wilber, Josheph Campbell. Going back earlier in the century, though he is probably not recognized as a philosopher, the books of Herman Hesse were intense and stimulating … philosophy in action, help up by riviting storys. His fiction interweaves with his philosophy seamlessly. His characters were everything from Buddhists to post-modern thinkers in the style of Niesche. Voltaire did the same.

For reading philosophers, Spinoza is brilliant, but don’t read books BY him, read the books by the scholars about him. He set out to prove the existance of god through Euclidean Geometric language. Albeit, not this visage that we picture, with personality traits, etc. He referred to his concept of god as “monism” and he considered any of that to be anthropromorphism.

Eric Fromm was another that was learnid prolific researcher in human behavior, who wrote the Art of Love.

Well, I don’t want to overload you will books to go look for. If you even read one of the ones I suggested I will be tickled pink!

What ‘area’ of intellectual pursuit?
I particularly like anything by Jerzy Kosinski (The Painted Bird, Being There). Freud is actually very interesting and very witty… you can get smaller doses of him in a book like ‘Civilization and Its Discontents’ or one of his essay compilations. Note: come to Freud devoid of the ‘popular’ ideas about what Freudian theory is supposed to be… most of the popular notions are incorrect.

Interestingly, Winston Churchill was not only incredibly intelligent, he was also a superb writer. You might want to check out his “History of the English Speaking Peoples.” Very informative (good cocktail party info) and exceptionally entertaining. If your grammar is starting to suffer, he’s also great for seeing english as it should be written.

I’m sure you’re going to get a lot of suggestions, so I’ll keep it short.

Atlas Shrugged…don’t be put off by its thickness. It is great.

Howard Zinn- Peoples History of the US (and everything else by him)

In the political sphere: anything by Hunter Thompson, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal (not only politics, but touches on many aspects of society). Perhaps not to the liking of but particularly GOOD for those subjected to current rah-rah US patriotic bs.
Michael Moore “Stupid White Men” Shows Dubya for what he is.
anthropological: Graham Hancock “Fingerprint of the Gods”

Naomi Klein - “No Logo”

Fun: Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke)
Nick Hornby (High Fidelity)

jus’ plain great writers:
Henry Miller
Kenzaburo Oe (astonishing mind)
Yukio Mishima
Haruki Murakami
Banana Yoshimoto

Krishnamurti - perspectives on life and “philosophy”

just one opinion

Those are solid recommendations, Kuri.

Zinn should be required reading. It would open the eyes of many people.

I also enjoy Japanese literature, particulary Mishima. I was glad to see his name in this thread.

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

Winston Churchill

Thank you for all of the suggestions. I am compiling a list now, looks like I’ve got quite a bit of reading ahead of me (I’ll have plenty of time while tanning at the beach :slight_smile: