I need your help. Together, we will reach out to those whom we consider to be possessed of the Biggest Brightest Brains and ask them to provide a list of must-read books.
There is praise to be had for the mediocre, the entertaining, the quixotic. But time is pressing and attention must needs be focused. Let us ask our betters what are the quintessential positive works to which we should commit ourselves. Which are the constructive books that led them to the views which they now hold, the views which, to our eyes anyway, make us consider these people worthy of respect?
By “constructive” I mean Das Kapital or Introduction to Psychoanalysis, as important as they are to history, won’t appear because they are entirely destructive. (Yes, if you consider Marxist or Freudian works to be compelling, you are invited not to contribute.)
Let’s not add books which we ourselves find worthy, lest this degenerate into another Internet list ending with Ayn Rand and the autobiography of [Insert Faddish Celebrity Here] top of the pops.
I’m counting on you to put in the leg work on this. If we don’t sweat, this effort will fail. You’ll have to track down and pester people on your own. And you’ll have to remember to do it, which is worse. Call them, email them, find them at book signings, lectures, or elsewhere.
Which people? Any whom you consider brilliant—which does not mean “academic” (though many brilliant academics exist). Those whom you are certain sure who legacies will be lasting.
We can’t, at least until the last trump, question the dead, but if you are able to produce solid evidence that a past peerless personage recommended a book, then send it along, too.
Books may be in any language on any subject, in or out of print. The only criterion is that they should be fundamental, foundational, and generally positive and constructive.
Write them below, or if you prefer anonymity, email all names and lists to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please use the following template. Feel free, of course, to add your own salutations etc. but keep intact the central plea.
Dear [Insert Name Here],
Could I beg of you the favor of listing no more than 10 books which you consider fundamental, foundational, and generally positive and constructive?
We are collecting a list of the best books recommended from the best minds, which will be published broadly (and freely) on the Internet. Please don’t worry about naming the obvious or consider that another might name a well known work. Just put down what you think is best.
The list will be at https://www.wmbriggs.com/bestbooks
I am reaching out to you because of my admiration for your achievements and because I believe we could all benefit from your experience about what is the best way to gain knowledge through reading.
Simply, the books you list should be those that you wish everybody would read.
Thanks very much for your help.
The list will be compiled, covered with our own blend of secret statistical sauce, and revealed in the space below.
Please copy this post far and wide; email it around. Tweet it, update your Facebook status with it (use the buttons below). I’ll remind us of the project from time to time, keeping it “sticky” by putting a link in the right sidebar. I imagine this will take months to years to complete.
Incidentally, I had a stab at such a list (my own choices) some month’s back. Essential (Philosophical) Conservative Book List; Initial Post.
Best Book List
Book, Author, Recommender
Bible, God et alia, Obvious.