We are now approaching the milestone of fifty, and then, we'll probably have a celebration post at sixty. But for now, I want to talk about our topic today without further introduction. Believe it or not, I have recently found some new things to talk about, much to your dismay. Since we recently talked about the importance of reading biographical and autobiographical texts, I think it would be important to talk about why it is important to read philosophy—though we may not all like studying it at university because the lecturer used to actually put us to sleep and it was like five flights of stairs just to get to the damn "MA Western Philosophical Tradition Class" that they used to just fall asleep in anyway (Yes, my experiences haven't been all that great)—but to read, philosophy is pretty brilliant.
I've been reading philosophical works ever since I was about 14 and picked up a book called The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell. I borrowed it from the library and, when I started going to university, I got my own copy and annotated it. I didn't really understand why philosophy was important when I was 14, though I knew what it was and the basic concepts of most major philosophers by reading that book. I decided to start from Plato and Socrates and work forwards. Since I was interested in why Socrates was put to death, the first concentrated work of philosophy I ever read was The Trial of Socrates by Plato.
Starting from a good point such as the beginning of the age or the beginning of the movement or even the first text by a philosopher is important as you'll be able to see how the ideas build from whatever perspective you're viewing from. If you're looking at a movement for example; you'll be able to see how that movement morphs and has its reactionaries and revolutionaries over the years if you start at the beginning of the movement. Yes you may miss out certain texts on the way, but I believe five is a good round number to get you by when you first go through them.
When I was around 16, I started reading into a man who I consider to be the greatest philosopher of all time: Soren Kierkegaard. To this day, I have read and re-read Kierkegaard's works because I feel like they really connect with me. He was a man way ahead of his time when it came to faith and religion. Kierkegaard believed that you weren't "born" a certain faith and that was it. You had to work at your faith because if faith is easy then it ceases to be faith. He refers to the binding of Isaac and the the trials of Job in his writings. I also love his text Either/Or which has this massive "damned if you do, damned if you don't" section which I always found incredibly confusing until I hit my twenties. I highly recommend Kierkegaard for anyone looking to test their faith in God, because seriously the man is so clear and articulate with his ideas and he has some brilliant concepts woven into his books. I cannot recommend him enough.
Anyways, I think you've had enough of me talking about philosophy now (I may revisit this idea later since some of my friends online are making me read Nietzsche since I tried to skip his stuff whilst at university. To be honest, it's one of those classic cases of "why the hell did I not read this when I had the chance?" It was pretty brilliant and my favourite text so far by him has been Thus Spoke Zarathustra because of the storytelling aspect to the book). Let's get on with our section then—I'll go through thirty books I've read and mark my favourites with a (*). I'll talk about some intermittently and hopefully, not bore you to death once again!
1321. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
1322. Shakespeare's Sonnets*
1323. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
1324. Kangaroo by DH Lawrence
1325. New Grub Street by George Gissing
1326. The Well by Elizabeth Jolley
1327. Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie
1328. Stories of God by RM Rilke
1329. How to Use Your Enemies by Baltasar Gracian
1330. The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
1331. Lady Susan by Jane Austen
1332. Aphorisms of Love and Hate by Frederich Nietzsche
1333. Italian Journey by Goethe
1334. The Lost Girl by DH Lawrence
1335. Dostoevsky by Andre Gide
1336. Heat Wave by Penelope Lively
1337. Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann
1338. Hunger by Knut Hamsun
1339. Daisy Miller by Henry James*
1340. 'Under the Greenwood Tree' by Thomas Hardy
This one isn't an experience as much as it is a warning. If you're going to read a book called Life with a Capital L by DH Lawrence, then please make sure that you have Thomas Hardy's major works, including this masterpiece, read first. Why? There's a huge chapter on him that goes off on some tangents that you won't understand unless you've read these texts.
1341. Red Calvary by Isaac Babel
1342. The Penguin Book of Witches*
1343. The Black Unicorn by Andre Lorde
1344. Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
1345. The Good Apprentice by Iris Murdoch
1346. Dark Days by James Baldwin
1347. Fame by Andy Warhol
1348. Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
1349. The Life of William Hazlitt by PP Howe
1350. The Mountains of California by John Muir