Below are some of the best books I read in 2015, each with a short paragraph explaining how reading the book influenced my thinking.
If you’re looking for great books to read, also look at my July 2014 blog on “Books that Influenced my Life”, Ted Gonder’s “Books that Have Changed My Life“, Edge.org’s list of 2015 Summer Reading, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s list of 8 books that every intelligent person should read, and Mark Bao’s “Great Books I read in 2015“.
I keep a visual overview of all the books I read in 2015 at http://books.titiaanpalazzi.com (a great, easy-to-use Tumblr template).
Best books I read in 2015:
My Life with the Saints, by James Martin
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor of America magazine, shares a brief synopsis of the lives of about fifteen Christian saints, detailing how each saint inspires him in everyday life. Reading this book kindled my desire to become a better person through service, and led me to explore more deeply the lives of St. Francis and Dorothy Day. If this paragraph tickles your curiosity, listen to Krista Tippett’s interview with James Martin on On Being.
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff
Benjamin Hoff explains the essence of Taoism through stories from Winnie the Pooh. This is a hilarious read that will inspire you to be kinder and funnier under the hardships that life will throw at you. Reading a chapter of The Tao of Pooh every morning is one of the surest ways to be a happier person (I can attest!)
Writings on an Ethical Life, by Peter Singer
I first read Peter Singer’s writing many years ago about eating meat, when he influenced my thinking that it’s OK to eat oysters and mussels as part of a vegetarian or vegan diet. In this book, a collection of essays and excerpts from different books, Singer will challenge many of your beliefs on how to live well.
Consolations of Philosophy, by Alain de Botton
De Botton’s mission is beautiful: to make the wisdom of philosophy accessible to a wide audience. In this book, he looks at six great philosophers, and frames the message of each in a way that can help you in every day life. I was particularly intrigued by Socrates’ method to get to truth, and Nietzsche’s belief that pain and distress are good, because they spur us to work harder to realize our dreams.
Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson
In this crazy science-fiction story, Neal Stephenson sketches a world where people choose to live more in virtual reality than in physical reality.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
Heinlein describes a beautiful symbiosis between men and machine who collectively try to overthrow an upsetting political regime.
The Glass Bead Game, by Herman Hesse
Hesse is possibly my favorite novelist, and I had put this book (a Nobel Prize winner) off for too long. The book made me think about the contemplative life versus the life of action, a theme that replays itself in many of Hesse’s books.
Books I want to read in 2016:
- The Utopia Experiment, by Dylan Evans—to understand the challenges of communal livings.
- On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin—to understand the foundation behind how Darwin came to his conclusion on natural selection.
- Mastery, by Robert Greene—to understand the path of the artist, so compellingly portrayed by Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
- The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine—to understand his critiques on The Bible and religion.
Books I want to re-read in 2016:
- Bhagavadgita, in translation by Eknath Eswaran—to be inspired to be a better person. (Gandhi read the Bhagavadgita every day.)
- Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono—to be more aware of the different modes of think I do, and can, use.
- From Darwin to Munger, by Peter Bevelin—to remind myself of the flaws in my thinking.
- The Little Prince, by Saint Exupéry—because the wonder expressed by our small friend from another planet is something I always want to keep in mind.
One of my intentions for the new year is to keep a digital summary of the best books I read in 2016, with the intention to re-read the summaries frequently, to truly internalize some of the lessons.