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Recommended Reading: Ten Books That Shaped Your World (UPDATED)

What are yours?

3:14 PM, Mar 19, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Recommended Reading: Ten Books That Shaped Your World (UPDATED)

Books do furnish a room.

Obtained via Creative Commons

No matter how this weekend's vote turns out, we're going to need to take a break from health care reform. Like government spending, health care has crowded out the market for political discussion. Glance at the news, and you would have no way of knowing that other things are happening.

Among the topics subsumed by the health care debate? A fascinating discussion over the 10 books that have influenced one's world view. Tyler Cowen got the ball rolling with his list. Read some follow-ups here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. As a card-carrying nerd, I love book lists, and picked up some new titles from the various recommendations. (One note: Most of these guys are econ bloggers, so their picks lean heavily in that direction.)

The exercise got me thinking about what my list would look like. You'll find it under the fold, in no particular order, and without commentary:

1. Republic.

2. Cosmos and The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan.

3. Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison.

4. Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk.

5. Wealth of Nations.

6. Reflections on the Revolution in France.

7. The Conservative Mind from Burke to Eliot by Russell Kirk.

8. Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea by Irving Kristol.

9. One Nation, Two Cultures by Gertrude Himmelfarb.

10. Dangerous Nation by Robert Kagan.

11. 1984.

Yes, there are more than 10 books here. And this excludes a lot, including the books that seem important when you are a young teen, like the Tofflers' Creating a New Civilization or Rand's Atlas Shrugged or Limbaugh's The Way Things Ought to Be, but that turn out to be places where you start, not where you end up. It occurs to me that the books you read between the ages of 13 and 21 turn out to be the most important in your life.

In any case, I'm interested in your list. I'm always looking for new ways to spend money on books. I share Erasmus's motto: "When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

Update, 4:31 p.m. Literary editor Philip Terzian shares his picks:

The Book of Common Prayer
Piers Plowman (William Langland)
Collected Poems (TS Eliot)
Seven Men (Max Beerbohm)
Tristram Shandy (Laurence Sterne)
Studies in the History of the Renaissance (Walter Pater)
Chronicles of Wasted Time: Vol. I, The Green Stick (Malcolm Muggeridge)
Babylon Revisited and other stories (F Scott Fitzgerald)
Culture and Anarchy (Matthew Arnold)
Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter's Son (Wm Alexander Percy)
Absalom, Absalom! (William Faulkner)

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