Required Reading, Part One

The single most important aspect in getting a good education is reading. Attending lectures and taking notes are extremely important, of course, but the majority of the information you will absorb in the course of your education is through reading.

The Art of War remains popular with CEOs, photo by Bob Massa

The Art of War remains popular with CEOs, photo by Bob Massa

The more you read, and the more different kind of material you read, will give you a deeper, more well rounded education. Our society is more results driven now, and thusly our educations are geared towards a specific goal. Very few people have the time or money to burn on taking superfluous classes, or reading books outside the scope of what they are going to school for.

To address that issue, I wanted to put together a list of great books that I feel will benefit anyone trying to give themselves a well rounded education. They are books from radically different perspectives, about different topics, from different periods of time. And if you are a current student looking for something good to read, or you just love books and want to educate yourself, I highly recommend each and every one of the following.

On Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – Regardless of how anyone feels about evolution or creationism, this book is a must read. The science is fascinating, but so too is the writing of Darwin, an interesting man who was as dedicated to eating nature’s wildlife as he was to cataloging it.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – For those of us who aren’t science-minded, this book boils down thousands of pages worth of abstract concepts into a handful of plainly written chapters. I’m not saying this is an easy book to read; Hawking is so brilliant that even speaking plainly, it will take two readings to digest it all. But it is the best work I’ve read on making theories like chaos, timespace, and string theory relatable.

The Art of War by Sun Tzu – Written by a Chinese military tactician, this book is still considered to be one of the best books ever written on warfare, military tactics, and strategy. But what makes the book such an immortal one is how each of the thirteen chapters or lessons teaches something that can be applied to other professions. Businessmen are constantly intrigued by the book, and you will be too.

Mythology by Edith Hamilton – Part of getting a good education is learning the beliefs and perspectives of other cultures, and this book is one of the best ever written to convey the deep and complex belief system of ancient Greek and Roman gods. Hamilton has compiled all the myths, and not only retells them but explains them and connects them to one another. One of the most entertaining books you can read while still learning something.

The Elements of Style, by Stunk and White — This is not a book you sit down and read cover to cover, but it’s the definitive reference to making yourself a better, more professional writer. Any question you have on grammar, sentence structure, or punctuation, this book has your answer.

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