Whenever possible, I am going to upload e-book copies of books that I think you will benefit from reading if they are in the public domain. they will be linked in the articles where I mention them, and also here where you can find them quickly.
No electronic book will ever beat the joy of reading a real, physical book, and I hope that you will learn to enjoy the peace and quiet of time spent with a real book in hand, of course, but the beauty of electronic ones is that I can store them here where they will be ready for you when you are ready to read them.
The Art of War
Also called the Sun-Tzu after the first of many generals who contributed to it. This book is still used today not just to teach how to win at war and war-games, but also how to solve everyday problems in your life, and how to be aware of changes in the world around you.
God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment
By Scott Adams. Scott Adams is a businessman, philosopher, writer, and cartoonist who has always been a maverick in American culture. He is good at finding new ways to interpret data, and new viewpoints that turn things on their head. God’s Debris was his most controversial work – a discussion of human consciousness that takes ideas like gnosticism, multi-agent personality theory, and spirituality and weave them into a sophisticated new whole.
download: God’s Debris
The Nichomachean Ethics (or just “Ethics”)
By Aristotle. One of the most important books in shaping the Western World. In this book Aristotle set out the rules of Logic, the ideas of Character and Virtue as we see them today, and the idea of “the Good Life” that has shaped the way we think of work, money, play, and relationships for the last 2,500 years. Ironically, this book was also written as a letter from a father to his son.
download: The Nichomachean Ethics
By the “Beowulf Scribe”. This ancient heroic poem is the first cultural creation of the Anglo-Saxons that we have on record, and dates back to at least the eighth century. It is considered the first work in something recognizable as English. It tells the tale of the hero Beowulf as he fights terrible monsters, witnesses the downfall of a beloved king, and eventually becomes a king himself. It talks about many of the greatest struggles of being a man, and gives us incredible insight into the culture of Medieval Europe.
download: Beowulf (Heaney Trans.)
by Charlotte Bronte. This gothic tells the life story of a young Orphan in pre-Victorian England, and how she rises from being an unloved and unwanted ward of a cruel aunt to becoming the lady of an ancient and powerful noble house.
download: Jane Eyre
Universally Preferable Behaviour
A book that takes the work of many of the greatest moral thinkers of the Western tradition, such as Aristotle, John Sutart Mill, and especially Immanuel Kant and makes them simple and approachable for a modern audience. It also separates morality from the need to believe in a god or in the necessary rightness of laws.
download: Universally Preferable Behaviour
by George Orwell. George Orwell was once a strong supporter of the ideals of Socialism and Communism, and even volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War, but unlike many of his peers he saw that the “political left” had some dangerous and violent ideas hidden under a veneer of compassion. He saw that compassion must be tempered with Reason, freedom, and dignity – or it would lead to violent totalitarian states. 1984 was what he envisioned the future to be if people didn’t stop down the path they were going. His themes of thought-policing, mind control, language control, government sponsored hate groups, and constant surveillance seem all the more chilling today (it was written in 1949). When reading 1984 it is critical to read the Appendix at the end after the book – the “real” ending of the novel is hidden in the text of the Appendix; many people skip it.
by George Orwell. Another from Orwell well worth reading, this novella presents a fable about how governments, particularly Socialist governments become corrupted. Most people read it as an allegory for the rise of Stalinism in the Societ Union – which is indeed what Orwell intended, but today it also works well to discuss so many other ideologies.
download: Animal Farm
by Plato. This is Plato’s account of the trial of Socrates, a debate that shaped our culture and history forever afterwards. Are men free to act as they wish, according to their conscience? Or are they property that belongs to their country? This question has founded the basis for Western philosophy and laws for 2400 years.
download: The Apology
by Ayn Rand. A science ficton novel about a lonely rebel in a world where individuality is a sin and science a crime. This novel is a biting commentary on many political trends such a socialism, collectivism, and the dumbing-down of the educational system. It is also a tale about heroism and the bravery it takes for both men and women to love.
download: Anthem by Ayn Rand
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
by Mary Shelly. A horror story written in 1818 about a scientist who creates a monster out of the parts of dead men and brings it to life, only to have it haunt and harrow him, angry for having been created and abandoned.
download: Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus