Friday, March 21, 2008

Summer Reading List

As Masons, and as citizens, we are encouraged to educate ourselves. In the Second Degree, Masons are recommended to familiarize themselves with the Liberal Arts, which adorn and polish the mind. As citizens, we need to have grounding in which to form our decisions, as well as to entertain ourselves. Hopefully both can be done together.

For some reason, ignorance is being encouraged in popular culture today. How many situation comedies have the hero, or the head of the household, criticizing anyone in the family or group of friends who enjoy learning or show any indication of trying to improve themselves intellectually? Think, Simpsons, or The King of Queens, or Two and Ahalf Men. Seinfeld did it differently, but with the same attitude. I enjoy most of these shows. They're clever, and obviously written by people who didn't take the advice to avoid intellect, but they're insidious because of their enjoyability.

So, after reading a couple of other blogs that have dealt with the issue of reading lists, I'm submitting one of my own. Please make additions or deletions:

The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson
Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
De Rerum Natura, (in Latin or English) by Lucretius
Dialogues, by Plato
A Hat Full of Sky, and the sequels to it, by Terry Pratchett
In Fact, any book by Terry Pratchett
The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine
Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegutt
The Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
1984, by George Orwell
The Attack on Reason, by Al Gore
The Gallic Wars, by Julius Caesar
Candide by Voltaire

There are many more. You must read Huckleberry Finn, for its perspective on childhood, fatherhood and race in America, The Mysterious Stranger, for Twain's take on war and nationalism, Major Barbara, and Man and Superman, by George Bernard Shaw, and The Playboy of the Western World, by Synge, just to see what a well made play is about.

These books help provide a context within which decisions can be more valuably be made. There are many more.

What do you suggest?

Here's a good place on line to start looking at some of these books, not to mention

1 comment:

Wayfaring Man said...

I would suggest Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. Part history, part travelog, Horwitz examines the impact of the Civil War on contemporary America with hilarious and sometimes heart-rending results.

If you like Pratchett, you'll really enjoy Horwitz.

Happy reading!
Wayfaring Man

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