David Brooks’ List of “Really Good Books”

david brooks booksIn the pages of The New York Times, David Brooks reeled off a list of Real­ly Good Books. He pref­aces the list with this: “Peo­ple are always ask­ing me what my favorite books are. I’ve held off list­ing them because it seems self-indul­gent. But, with sum­mer almost here, I thought I might spend a cou­ple columns rec­om­mend­ing eight books that have been piv­otal in my life.” [He actu­al­ly rec­om­mends more than 8 in the end.] Some of the books will help you think about liv­ing a life of “civ­i­lized ambi­tion.” Oth­ers will nur­ture your inner spir­it. And still oth­ers will help you think more intel­li­gent­ly about writ­ing and pol­i­tics. Along the way, he adds a quick caveat about what these books “can’t do.” “They can’t carve your con­vic­tions about the world. Only life can do that — only rela­tion­ships, strug­gle, love, play and work. Books can give you vocab­u­lar­ies and frame­works to help you under­stand and decide, but life pro­vides exact­ly the edu­ca­tion you need.”

The list was pub­lished in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2. In each install­ment, Brooks explains why he select­ed each work. Where pos­si­ble, we have pro­vid­ed links to texts avail­able online. You can also find them list­ed in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

1. A Col­lec­tion of Essays by George Orwell

2. Anna Karen­i­na by Leo Tol­stoy

3. “Ratio­nal­ism in Pol­i­tics” by Michael Oakeshott

4. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn War­ren

5. The Pelo­pon­nesian War by Thucy­dides

6. The Con­fes­sions by St. Augus­tine

7. The Lone­ly Man of Faith by Joseph Soloveitchik

8. Man’s Search for Mean­ing by Vik­tor Fran­kl (see Fran­kl talk about that great search here.)

9. Mid­dle­march by George Eliot

10. End­less Love by Scott Spencer

Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

Stephen King Cre­ates a List of 96 Books for Aspir­ing Writ­ers to Read

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

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