Books for guys that actually like to read: Self-Improvement

since last week i covered isolation and being alone, i figured this week i’d cover 2 tomes from the old library dealing with self-improvement. i decided i’d pick one book i try to read every year, and the other is by far the most difficult book i’ve ever tackled, but WELL worth the effort. so let’s get started.

1. Meditations- by Marcus Aurelius. yes, THE Marcus Aurelius (the roman emperor) believed to have been written around 907. the fact that the book can still be relevant to a man’s moral fiber and personality is epic to me. it’s VERY easy to read and you can burn through it in about 3-4 hours. honestly, you can pick it up, open it, and read something truly profound. do yourself a favor and give it a run. if i have a son, i’m going to make him read this book

2. Thus Spoke Zarathustra- by Friedrich Nietzsche. OK. bear with me. i am a practicing Catholic. i was initially put-off with the “God is dead” aspect of this book, but a friend who spent 3 year’s in Catholic seminary school suggested it. then i ended up in Academia at UNO and i took ethics as a precursor to health ethics. my prof was fucking genius. he’s the one the mentioned this book as well and the whole aspect of “man surpassing the best he’s capable of” appealed to me. i’m not going to lie it took me 2-3 months to read this, it’s the second most difficult book i’ve ever tackled (first being Foucalt’s Pendulum….think ‘the da vinci code’ for people with intellect). i had to read and re-read it and i won’t pretend i understand every single line. i don’t. but the prose in it is beautiful. i HIGHLY recommend this one.

honorable mentions: Siddhartha by-Herman Hesse  and The Book of Five Rings by- Miyamoto Musashi.

this weekends music will be supplied by Deerhunter from the Athens, Ga area. enjoy.

6 Comments on “Books for guys that actually like to read: Self-Improvement”

  1. zorro says:

    I can’t believe how similar our reading habits are! On Aurelius, make sure you get a good translation (I have seven). I like the Wordsworth edition. Miyamoto Musashi is fantastic.

    I recommend The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracian. He’s been called Machiavelli with a heart. Also the Samuel Griffith translation of The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Mandatory reading!

    Lovin’ your blog, dude!

  2. Man surpassing the best that he’s capable of… I love that. We are all capable of so much more than we can imagine.

  3. WillieMaize24 says:

    If you like Marcus Aurelius try Epictetus and some of the other Stoics. Also since you’re a practicing Catholic you might likeThe Edge of Sadness by Edwin O’Connor. It won the Pulitizer Prize back in the 50’s but don’t let that turn you off to it. You might like some of O’Connor’s other books as well (except his first one, which I couldn’t make it through, but I didn’t read until I’d read most of the others.) Not too many people read him any more but he’s better than most of what’s out there.

  4. To the self-improvement genre I would add Montaigne’s essays and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. For Montaigne the penguin collection titled ‘essays’ tr. J.M Cohen is sufficiently comprehensive.

    I also took several Ethics classes but they were primarily centered around utilitarianism and its modern off-shoots. It was quite a revelation to see how much of modern liberalism is imbued with utilitarian thinking. I have a vague hunch that the adoption of this type of ethics has some bearing on the development of feminism with its myopic sexual autonomy. Moreover, it offers a good explanation of the gradual rise of the tyrannical welfare state and social erosion during the 20th century. Most, if not all, of JS Mill’s formulas can be lifted from his ‘antiquated’ moral context and applied to justify a modern individualistic morality. I tried to raise the point in our seminars but it wasn’t seen in that light by my tutor.

    Deerhunter is solid, especially anything of ‘cryptograms’ . Atlas sound is pretty good as well.

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