Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Because it is fashionable to be late and lists are fun, let’s think about the books that most influenced our early intellectual formation. Not too long ago, some writers on my reading list presented their contributions: Ross Douthat, Tyler Cowen, Austin Bramwell, Daniel McCarthy, Thursday. Mine are below the fold, and use the comments for further recommendations.

10. King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership by Arnold Ludwig. A comprehensive look at what makes for an effective political leader, and it made me appreciative of that which I don’t get like I should - quantitative analysis.

9. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The one book I will be engaging my whole life.

8. Shakespeare: Invention of the Human by Harold Bloom (with Hamlet: Poem Unlimited). This book gives you an appreciation for human accomplishment (felt compelled to get to it after Murray’s Human Accomplishment). It’s also very easy to return to.

7. The Tyranny of Liberalism by Jim Kalb. Really puts modern politics, and much of the “conservative” movement, in perspective (that is, right-liberalism, as liberalism is “equal freedom”).

6. The Annotated Alice: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

5. The Conservative Mind (with the Roots of The Roots of American Order) by Russell Kirk.

4. Reflections on the Revolution in France (with A Philosophical Enquiry) by Edmund Burke.

3. The Quest for Community by Robert Nisbet. A work of sociology and political theory that started everything for me.

2. History of Political Philosophy by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. A very helpful place to turn for short, comprehensive overviews that guide to the primary texts.

1. The Bible (with the Catechism of the Catholic Church). I think these must occupy the top spot if one wishes to join the claims of the Church.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles