List, List, O List

Speaking of Keats and Wordsworth and Bronte – speaking, in short, of books – I was going to do that Ten Books that changed my thinking list. So now I will. It’s not a literary list – more of an argumentative list. And it’s also not really a top ten or ten best or ten favorites list. It’s not definitive. That list would have to be much longer, and more fluctuating. But this is a sample of that list.

1. Montaigne’s essays.

2. Hazlitt’s essays. That’s cheating in a way, because they’re not all in one book (whereas Montaigne’s are). But just think of them as one huge super-book.

3. Keats’ letters.

4. On Liberty. Same what Norm said. I’m really, really partial to Mill. It seems we all are. That contest or quiz or whatever it was that people were chatting about last week (I didn’t look at it myself), the one about ‘which philosopher are you?’ The people I saw who’d taken it – Anthony at Black Triangle and – was it Norm? – both had Mill at the top. Martha Nussbaum in a recent interview when asked who her favorite philosopher was, said Mill. I should just throw in his autobiography and On the Subjugation of Women for 5 and 6, but that would be a little dull. Take all three as one book then, and throw in his essay on Coleridge, and –

5. Walden. A more rhetorical On Liberty.

6. The Flaubert-Sand letters.

7. Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

8. Eichmann in Jerusalem.

9. Paul Gross and Norman Levitt’s Higher Superstition.

10. Martha Nussbaum’s Sex and Social Justice.

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