In the last months of his life, a physically weakened Christopher Hitchens traveled to the Texas Freethought Convention to accept the Richard Dawkins Award. While there, an eight-year-old girl, Mason Crumpacker of Dallas, asked Hitchens what books she should consider reading. Intrigued, Hitchens spent 15 minutes chatting with the youngster and sketching out a reading list. And, according to the Houston Chronicle, it looks something like this:
- Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths (even though it turns out the girl was already a big fan of I, Claudius).
- Richard Dawkins’ illustrated science book, The Magic of Reality.
- Any satirical works by Shakespeare and Chaucer. Find some in our collection of Free eBooks.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations (to explain what it could be like for young women to grow up in this world.)
- A Tale of Two Cities in particular, and any Dickens in general, since Dickens teaches children to love reading.
- Something by P.G. Wodehouse. How about Sunset at Blandings?
- And, when it comes to philosophy, a little Hume. David Hume, that is.
A detailed account of the conversation by Mason Crumpacker’s mother can be found here.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for another set of recommendations, don’t miss this: Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intelligent Person Should Read.
And if you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, Venmo (@openculture) and Crypto. Thanks for your support!