July 2, 2017

A Reading List

Ah, the sun! The great giver and destroyer of life; oppressive and deadly, illuminating and vital. I like to keep out of its reach. My summer days are whittled away in the shade or in the comforting gloom of a darkened room with my face in a book, anticipating the return of the cold somewhere out there waiting in the firmament. I’ve been meaning to compile a reading list for some time now. Previous efforts haven’t met with much success. I end up listing too many books or a bunch of stuff that nobody wants to read. But it is summer now, after all, and now’s a great time for a good reading list. I gave myself three rules for this one:

  1. I had to have read the book (obviously).
  2. There could only be seven categories.
  3. There could only be seven books in each category.
  4. They must have some important lesson to bestow, something that strengthens the individual.

I tried my best to list substantial, challenging books—save for the fitness stuff, though they are challenging in their own right. During my initial outlining for this thing, I marked down all the greats. Then, with a touch of melancholy in my heart, I crossed off Ulysses, Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, Beyond Good and Evil, The Sound and the Fury—among many others. I killed a whole section on tragedies when I found out that I accidentally had eight categories. I’m still trying to understand works like Ulysses, Karamazov, Beyond Good and Evil. They’re extremely complex. I need to gain a better grasp on that stuff before I go recommending them people.

I don’t agree with some of the philosophy and religious ideas in the books listed. I’m not a fan of Islamic doctrine. Something about strict Buddhism and Christianity gives me a bad feeling, though I do adopt a copious amount of their philosophies. I hate Rousseau, however; a working knowledge of his major work is key to understanding the story of the past two hundred years. I very reluctantly had to cross Karl Marx off the list. I can’t stand him, but I do feel that a familiarity with Marx and the horrors his ideas visited upon this realm are incredibly important and of much benefit to everyone. Everyone should read Das Kapital. However, I assume that most are familiar with Marx and listing him here would be redundant.

The creation of this list has been an exercise in killing my darlings. I’m toying with the thought of a sequel of sorts down the road. I also had to scrap the paragraphs–I originally wrote one about the book underneath each title. It went on for pages. There’s just no way anyone would sit there and read all that on a blog. I have been inspired to write full essays on a few of these books now.

So here they are, take a careful look and pick out something you might like.

Modern Fiction

The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood

The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson

You Can’t Go Home Again – Thomas Wolfe

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers

The Complete Stories – Flannery O’Connor

 The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway

Dirty Work – Larry Brown


 Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe

Candide – Voltaire

Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Hunger – Knut Hamsun

Moby Dick – Herman Melville

Confession – Leo Tolstoy (Technically not a novel, but a must-read nonetheless.)

The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson – Mark Twain


The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide – Dr. James Fadiman

The Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

When Breath Becomes Air – Dr. Paul Kalanithi

And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East – Richard Engel

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant

Essays – Arthur Schopenhauer


Republic – Plato

The Consolation of Philosophy – Boethius

The Confessions – Saint Augustine

The World as Will and Representation – Arthur Schopenhauer (Schopenhauer recommends that the reader acquire a basic understanding of Kant’s ideas in Critique of Pure Reason, as well as a working knowledge of Plato and the Upanishads before starting this.)

On the Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche (To get a better grip on it, read alongside with Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Nietzsche on Morality.)

The Social Contract – Jean Jacques Rousseau (Read alongside Will and Ariel Durant’s Rousseau and Revolution.)

Fear and Trembling – Soren Kierkegaard (Read alongside The Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling.)


Anabasis – Xenophon

The War in Gaul and the Civil War – Julius Caesar

The Wars and the Secret History – Procopius

The Histories – Herodotus 

The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman

The Memoirs of the Conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution — Simon Schama


The King James Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Ezekiel, Job, Daniel, Romans, Luke-Acts, John, Revelation

The Quran: 2:191- 2:217, 9:123-9:5, 47:4-49:9

Sahih al-Bukhari (Hadith)

Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist – D.T. Suzuki

The Upanishads

Sutra on the Eight Realizations – Thich Nhat Hanh

A History of Religious Ideas – Mircea Eliade


Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe

Building the Gymnastic Body – Christopher Sommer

Principals of Functional Exercise – Charles DeFrancesco, Dr. Robert Inesta, CSCS

Strength Training Anatomy – Fredric Delavier

 Becoming a Supple Leopard – Glen Cordoza, Kelly Starrett

You Are Your Own Gym – Joshua Clark, Mark Lauren

Practical Programming for Strength Training – Mark Rippetoe






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About Ryan Fabian

New England writer and lover of knowledge.

Latest Posts By Ryan Fabian


19th Century, American History, autobiography, Ben Franklin, blog, books, buddhism, Constantinople, Dark Ages, death, Disaster, dying, Eastern Roman Empire, Education, enlightenment, essay, European History, Fitness, Fitness industry, gym, health and wellness, health clubs, History, History of Byzantium, History of Rome, Islam, Jihad, Justinian I, Late Antiquity, life changes, life lessons, Medieval history, meditations, memoir, Middle Ages, mortality, personal development, philosophy, plato, reading list, Rome, Ryan Fabian, self-improvement, solitude, stoicism, stoics, storytelling, Terrifying World, Uncategorized, war, weight lifting, When Breath Becomes Air


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