By Leo Gray
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This by no means is a full list of all the books you should read, just a small portion of them.
The Republic by Plato
Plato’s Republic gave birth to and outlined the political landscape of ancient Greece while also foreshadowing some government systems of the future. Plato’s Republic has been, and will be, for a long time, the foundation of modern political science and provides a look into the mind of one of history’s greatest thinkers.
The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, I would argue, is more influential than Common Sense because this book outlines the necessity of democracy and the importance of fundamental human rights. These human rights that Paine talks about in his book are the ones that are later debated during the making of the Consitution and set the foundation of what we know today as basic human rights not only in America but in most of the world.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass is a man I enjoy reading about and who I admire for his determination, intelligence, and outlook on life. He speaks about the hypocrisy of government, faith, and the need for everyone to have rights, not just a select few. His story is impactful and inspirational, especially hearing it from his words, and if I could go back in time to speak to influential people, Douglass would be one of the people on that list.
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Yes, capitalism is flawed, but it is the best system we have right now. Adam Smith, in his book The Wealth of Nations, pretty much lays down the foundation and economic ecosystem of capitalism and how it can affect the nations that partake in it. It is interesting to see the back story of economic systems and then see how much countries partake in it.
Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, I’m not going to lie, I haven’t read it all the way. I read the first fifty pages and then stopped. I didn’t fully understand the writing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it or do what I did and watch videos about it. The Divine Comedy is a story about a man going through hell, purgatory, and then heaven. It touches us about what happens if we live sinful lives and also shows the journey of the human soul both on earth and in the afterlife.
1984 by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell warns us about what happens when we let governments take too much power from the people. We have seen totalitarian governments in the past and even in the present day. We think it can’t happen to us in our homes, but it can, and 1984 warns us about what happens when we let the government take rights away from the people and expand to the point of no return.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment is a book about human flaws, guilt, and what we do when we try to make ourselves God. Crime and Punishment is a great way to learn about the human mind and how we react to things. It looks into human psychology, and there is a reason why it is the most famous novel to come out of Russia and one of the most famous novels in the world.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
There is nothing else to say other than these books and movies are beautiful works of art. The world-building, hero’s journey, and lessons to learn about overcoming challenges, accepting differences, and religion are fundamental to the human experiences, and the stories do it in a fantastical and magical way.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
I was once told by someone that men don’t have to read Anne Frank’s diary because it primarily circles around her being a woman, and I told this person to his face they were one of the stupidest people I’ve ever met. Everyone should read The Diary of a Young Girl, every single person, and it is a crime that it is not mandatory reading in schools. This diary is one of the only things we have from the Frank family. We hear about the struggles they and so many others went through during this time. We hear the stories of the heroes who tried to protect them and who risked their lives to help the Frank family. We hear about the struggles of young children and their parents in this time period. WW2 was probably, if not the darkest time in human history, I would argue, and this diary is one of the most important pieces of written history we have. Everyone should read it, no excuses.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is a book I read in high school, and it stuck with me for a long time. The book, told from the perspective of a child, tells the story of acceptance, racism, societal constructs, human kindness, and family. Scout and the lessons she learns from her father teach us the importance of not judging someone by how they look and walking a mile in a man’s shoes before we judge. It also teaches us the importance of standing up for those who are innocent, even if we are standing alone.