I read prolifically in 2016, although not with much purpose or direction. A casual skimming of my Goodread’s list for the year is interesting, but not enlightening. By the end of the third quarter I made a decision to change what and how I was reading. A brief internet search introduced me to folks with similar aspirations and eventually to the Great Books of the Western World by Encyclopedia Britannica and The Harvard Classics by Harvard University; it amazes me that not once during my 10 years of university did any of my professors or peers mention either collection. The two collections provided a good starting point and I created my own list of books to read. I took the month of August researching my list and studying how best to learn from the books in the list.
Of course, reading the books isn’t enough. I needed to study the book and/or material in the same fashion as all the great scientists and learners of the past and present. I wanted to be methodical and consistent, fortunately and old hobby of mine becomes useful again, journaling and notebooks provide an opportunity to improve my writing habits and document my progress. As for reading habits, I wanted to read with intent and two books are crucial to this strategy.
“The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had” by Susan Wise Bauer
“How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading” by Mortimer J. Adler
I plan on expanding my thoughts on these books in a future article, but can not stress enough their importance for the next few years. For now, I want to ‘first read’ several books on my lists. The plan is to come back to the books that really inspire and write an essay on each.
Walls Academy had been a brain child of mine for years and became the new home of my self education. I wanted to use my reading list to expand, not only, my knowledge of literature, but all areas of knowledge. While I expect my secret goal of polymathdom is a bit long in the tooth, I am taking the first steps.
My favorite books of 2016 are an interesting mix, but all of them have inspired me.
War and Peace (Centaur Classics) by Leo Tolstoy
This was my first book I read upon starting my new reading approach. I am very happy I did. The BBC Miniseries was wonderful and I plan to watch the Russian Version of the movie when I find a dubbed copy. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t), the book is about all things Russian and concerns the lives of several families during the Napoleonic Era and invasion of Russia. It is truly a Masterpiece.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Wonderful thought provoking material on how the brain works, using the Fast and Slow Brains. While some of the studies and tests are under criticism today, I found the book insightful and useful for anyone that wants to understand themselves or others better.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
The most impressive book I read this year, primarily because it was unexpected. Mix in mathematics, history, science, and superior writing and you get this book. If you are interested in any of those topics you will like it, two or more and you will love it. Require reading for any budding cryptologist.
THE MATHEMATICAL PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY (Illustrated and Bundled with LIFE OF SIR ISAAC NEWTON) by Isaac Newton
After reading Einstein’s Theory of Relativity last year, I was amazed at the readability of the writing. It hadn’t occurred to me that scientist wrote for the layperson and with that encouragement I took a swing at Newton’s. I could have done without the Life piece and do plan on sitting down for a more thorough read in the future, but well worth my time. The study of mathematics and science will be a focus for 2017.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
While Science Fiction and Fantasy did not break into my top books for the year, several series proved entertaining for me this year.
No Plays for me this year, but Shakespeare is on for next year. Any other suggestions to add to my list are welcome.
Poetry, I love poetry and look forward to adding more to my life in 2017. I read Edgar Alan Poe’s collection of Poetry as my first dip into the pool. An interesting aside here, take the time and find some Readings of poetry on Youtube, etc. I was very impressed with James Earl Jone’s reading of Raven.
Not matter what you are reading, enjoy and explore.