Monday, September 13, 2010

Books on the reading list

Surprisingly, I didn't get through much reading in Nice. I finished both God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World by Walter Russell Mead (worth reading along with To Rule the Waves) and Eat, Pray, Love. Quite a juxtaposition of themes, don't you think? Well, it was lighter reading than The God Delusion, the book I was reading the last time I was in Nice.

I didn't finish Kitchen Confidential, though the parts I read I loved. And I started The Way of Kings, just because I am a sucker for door-stopper fantasy novels.

So where am I on my reading list, my extracurricular reading, if you will? Doing quite poorly. Last I checked, I still had these books to go through:

  • The Ascent of Money - Niall Ferguson
  • On Liberty - John Stuart Mill 
  • Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill (optional)
  • Considerations on Representative Government - John Stuart Mill (optional)
  • The Subjection of Women - John Stuart Mill (optional)
  • The Contest in America - John Stuart Mill (optional)
  • Essays on some unsettled Questions of Political Economy - John Stuart Mill (optional)
  • The Flight of the Intellectuals - Paul Berman
  • Leviathan - Thomas Hobbes
  • The Theory of Moral Sentiments - Adam Smith
  • Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
  • This Time is Different - Reinhart and Rogoff
  • Works of Edmund Burke
On a related note, I love the site FiveBooks - a lot of my extracurricular reading is from there.

What's my curricular reading? You're probably bored by the extracurricular list already, but this list is shorter, significantly.
  • More Money than God - Sebastian Mallaby
  • Liar's Poker - Michael Lewis
Given the size of the extracurricular list, I'm not adding any more to it. However, I'm happy to add to the curricular list should anyone be able to toss anything my way - the curriculum includes diverting fiction and business/investing reading. Extracurricular is typically history, economics, and political/philosophical commentary, with a dash of popular science, though I usually am tempted to have the economics in the curricular section too.

I leave you with a quote from John Stuart Mills that may make it clear why On Liberty is on my reading list:

‘In politics, again, it is almost a commonplace, that a party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life; until the one or the other shall have so enlarged its mental grasp as to be a party equally of order and of progress, knowing and distinguishing what is fit to be preserved from what ought to be swept away. Each of these modes of thinking derives its utility from the deficiencies of the other; but it is in a great measure the opposition of the other that keeps each within the limits of reason and sanity.’

For those who slip into the "us versus them" mindset whenever considering the political party opposed to what you think is right (and because you think it's right, of course it's correct!), maybe they should read this and pause, breathe, and let the emotions out.

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