Good, here’s another list. I think it falsifies the one-item-in-common hypothesis. This is Phil Mole’s.
1) Bertrand Russell – Why I am Not a Christian and Other Essays. This book really stimulated my own thinking about religion, and probably gave me the decisive shove toward atheism.
2) William James – Varieties of Religious Experience. After reading this, I became very interested in the psychological components of religious experience.
3) Stephen Jay Gould- An Urchin in the Storm. This is a collection of Gould’s book reviews. Reading this collection taught me a great deal about the art of the book review, not to mention the art of critical thinking.
4) C. Vann Woodward – The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Opened my eyes to the complexities of race in the Old South, and the complexities of race relations in general.
5) Voltaire – Candide. A hilarious expose of life’s absurdities.
6) Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs and Steel. Drew together information from countless sources and disciplines to present a novel and surprising view of human history.
7) Feodor Dostoevsky – The Brothers Karamazov.
8. William Shakespeare – Hamlet.
9) Isaiah Berlin – Crooked Timber of Humanity. A great collection of essays about political and intellectual history, and the havoc caused through the quest for certainty.
10) Charles Darwin – Origin of the Species. Reading the book teaches you how to think about science.
Yup. Russell (Skeptical Essays), James, Gould, Diamond, all on my mega-list. I haven’t read the Woodward, but several books have had the same effect on my thinking. There’s David Olshinsky’s Worse Than Slavery, for instance – now there’s an eye-opener. Oy. ‘Hamlet’ is perhaps my single favorite piece of literature of all time. There’s something almost eerie about the way you can’t ever get to the bottom of it. Berlin is interesting, though I don’t always believe what he’s telling me. Darwin of course – which reminds me that I don’t think I have a Dawkins on my list – and yet he has certainly influenced my thinking. Ten just isn’t enough, that’s all there is to it. The only one I wouldn’t have is the Dostoevsky. I share Nabokov’s opinion of him.
Now. More readers will be inspired to send their lists.