I’m not going to tell you what to read, that defies the object of this whole series. This is about expanding your mind, not mine. It doesn’t matter much (although perhaps some) what the “good” books are. What matters is what your’e interested in, where you are, and where you want to go. I will, however, suggest starting a resolution to read by picking up these two books:
An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
An Uncommon Reader is a great place to start. Why? Because it’ll inspire you to read and it provides an example of the way it should be done. It’s a short story about Queen Elizabeth who picks up a book one day, catapulting her into a reading habit. That first book piqued her interest about another book, which piqued her interest about yet another. This is how it should be! It should be an organic process that moves with the growth of your mind. I think you’ll feel inspired by this book.
The Well Educated Mind is a book, like this post, on how to read and why. There is more detail here in terms of book choices that I’d vouch for (it’s not wrong, it’s just not my philosophy) but what I love is the structure for reading that it provides. Bauer goes over the basics of classical education, in particular the three stages of reading. These stages will have you really learning about books, more importantly, about the ideas they provide. They will have you asking questions and answering them. This is the “how.” I’ll go over this more soon.
So, those are the two books to start with. After that it’s up to you. What are you interested in? Let’s say it’s food (this is, after all, a food blog!). Ok, great, what about food? History? Politics? Ok, great. Let’s say it’s food politics – what about it? Maybe you’re interested in meat and whether it’s ok to eat it. Great! Or, not. If you’re just a “food politics” that’s great too. It can be as broad or specific as you want. The next thing is to put together a little starter-list on the subject. Here’s how:
1) Google “food politics books.” See what comes up.
2) Go to Amazon and search the same way. Or start with a book you do know, like Fast Food Nation. Start a wish list. Read comments on books for more suggestions. Read people’s lists.
3) Ask a friend for some recs.
4) Go to a bookstore and browse.
When you have 3-4 books on your list that you’re interested in, you’re ready. You don’t want more that that because right now you’re just creating a loose structure. You may not even read all these books because you might not be at the same place after book 1 as you are now. You may not be interested in food politics anymore, or you may find that a book referenced in book 1 is really interesting to you. That’s great! Go with it. The point is to learn: about the world and yourself.
So this is the first step for quality reading. Questions? Lemme know.
Step 2 is coming soon!