OPINION – When I wrote about my friend and mentor Abe Neighbor, a St. George News reader asked for a list of Abe’s favorite books. I decided to include a few of my own as well since some of them are particularly timely.
These recommendations are not a challenge to engage in a brain-flexing competition. So please don’t miss the point.
I’ve simply found that these books have expanded my understanding of the world around us. They are tools to help break free from the willful obliviousness that seems to permeate society.
1. The Law by Frederic Bastiat
This is the classic essay on the proper and improper roles of legitimate government. Bastiat deconstructs socialism in clear, unambiguous language. The best takeaway from his work is that any act that would be immoral for us to do as individuals does not become moral when done by the state. Every elected leader and voter should read and understand this book.
2. Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
To see the world as it really is requires a working knowledge of basic economics. Hazlitt’s book is the perfect introduction to the study of human interaction and choices. The wisest policies are those that take into account not only the immediate perceived effect, but also the likely unintended effects it may cause. This book will help the reader to develop the critical thinking skills that will break his or her dependence upon ‘experts’ to stay informed on current events.
3. Nullification by Thomas E. Woods Jr.
The prospect of our federal government growing out of control was understood by many of the founders. The peaceful remedy to such overreach is for state legislatures to nullify unconstitutional federal laws. Tom Woods dismantles the federal supremacist myths that have, over time, relegated the states to mere administrative units of an all-powerful national government. Woods is the perfect combination of informative and entertaining.
4. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Machiavelli lived through the shift from Medieval to Renaissance thinking. He was the political scientist who boldly described the tendency of rulers to stop worrying about right and wrong and to focus instead on what works to attain power over the citizenry. Readers of “The Prince” will immediately start to recognize the Machiavellian qualities of modern political leaders. This is essential reading for anyone who follows politics.
5. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
Nothing demonstrates true leadership like being able to inspire confidence in others in difficult situations. Shackleton found himself and 27 members of his crew stranded after their Antarctica-bound ship was trapped and then crushed by huge ice floes. For the better part of two years, he and his men dragged their lifeboats over the ice and then sailed hundreds of miles to reach help. All of them survived. Shackleton’s unwavering optimism is a lesson to leaders at every level.
6. Rascal by Chris Brady
Yes, this is a self-help book. But it’s also a beautifully written call for each of us to stop following the herd and to become genuine characters. Historically, anyone who has made a positive difference in the world has been a rascal of some sort. Chris Brady makes the case that being true to our best character traits allows us to accomplish much more than when we’re hiding within the crowd.
7. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
This is a true classic that teaches timeless lessons on forgiveness and redemption. My paperback version is roughly 1300 pages in length, so reading this book is a serious commitment. It’s absolutely worth it, if you’re willing to make the effort.
8. The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Ed Griffin
You will never look at money the same way again after reading Griffin’s recounting of the creation of the Federal Reserve banking system. This book offers convincing evidence that our currency and monetary system has transformed a society of thinking, accountable citizens into irrational consumers — by design.
9. A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe by Michael S. Schneider
Michael Schneider demonstrates the incredible amount of natural geometry all around us in such a way that you’ll see the world through new eyes. This book turned my lifelong hatred of mathematics into wonder. It’s a level of math that’s not currently taught in our educational system.
10. The Hero From Otherwhere by Jay Williams
This book is purely a fantasy novel. So why would I include it? Because it’s a marvelous story that grabs hold of your imagination and doesn’t let go. Also, it’s a story you’ll enjoy sharing with your kids. I first read this book in grade school and still love to revisit it from time to time.
Now that you’ve seen my suggestions, what books would you recommend? Feel free to add them in the comments below.
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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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