Book Lists

6 Books You Should Read This Summer, As Recommended By David Brooks

BrooSelects00202.jpg
David Brooks
Author, New York Times Columnist 

Last week David Brooks listed his favorite books in two columns — “Really Good Books, Part I & Part II.” Brooks recommends over 20 books but we picked six, which are listed below.

Brooks also offered a bit of writing advice. ”If you want to learn how to write, the best way to start is by imitating C.S. Lewis and George Orwell. These two Englishmen, born five years apart, never used a pompous word if a short and plain one would do. Orwell was a master of the welcoming first sentence. He wrote an essay called ‘England Your England’ while sheltering from German bombs during World War II. Here is his opening: ‘As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.’”

A Collection of Essays

1A Collection of Essays by George Orwell

Orwell was famous for sticking close to reality, for facing unpleasant facts, for describing ideas not ideologically but as they actually played out in concrete circumstances.

Anna Karenina

2Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna is a magnetic person propelled by a love that is ardent and unexpected but also headlong and unpredictable. She’s ultimately unable to surmount the consequences of her actions or even live with the moral injuries she causes. Was Anna right to follow her heart? Should she have settled for a mediocre life in line with convention? This is a foxlike love story, with many angles, which does not lead to easy answers.

Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays

3Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays by Michael Oakeshott

This essay dismantles a common form of contemporary hubris — the belief that it is possible to solve political problems as if they were engineering problems, with rational planning. Oakeshott distinguishes between technical knowledge and practical knowledge. Technical knowledge is the sort of information that can be put in a recipe in a cookbook. Practical knowledge is the rest of what the master chef actually knows: the habits, skills, intuitions and traditions of the craft. Practical knowledge exists only in use; it can be imparted but not taught. Technocrats and ideologues possess abstract technical knowledge and think that is all there is. Their prefab plans come apart because they simplify reality, and don’t understand how society works and the rest of what we know.

All the King’s Men

4All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

This is nominally a novel about Huey Long. But it is also a novel about irony, the way good can come from bad, and bad can come from good, the way people march into public life imagining they are white lambs only to be turned into guilty goats. The main characters are tainted and mottled, part admirable, part noxious. The book asks if in politics you have to sell your soul in order to have the power to serve the poor.

History of the Peloponnesian War

5History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides

Through the figure of Pericles, Thucydides shows us how to live a life of civilized ambition, in which individual achievement is fused with patriotic service. He also reminds us that in politics the lows are lower than the highs are high. That is, when politicians mess up, the size of the damage they cause is larger than the size of the benefit they create when they do well.

Confessions

6Confessions by Saint Augustine

“The Confessions” is a religious book, but it can also be read as a memoir of an ambitious young man who came to realize how perverse life can be when it is dedicated to fulfilling the self’s own desires. “I came to Carthage, where a cauldron of illicit loves leapt and boiled about me,” Augustine wrote. “I was not yet in love, but I was in love with love, and from the very depth of my need hated myself.” Gradually, he orders his love, putting the higher loves above lower ones, and surrendering to God’s ultimate love. He also reconciles with his mother, Monica, the ultimate helicopter mom.

SHARE
Get 250 words delivered to your inbox
Plus, get a FREE EBOOK when you join.
Offer expires 6/30/14 redeemable on Bookshout.com.
See Terms and Conditions and this month's selections

Blogroll

Sign up for our Newsletter

Plus, get a FREE EBOOK when you join.
Offer expires 6/30/14 redeemable on Bookshout.com.
See Terms and Conditions and this month's selections