10 Books You Should Read But Probably Haven’t

If you attended a public school, your reading list was developed by a government entity of some sort. The books chosen aren’t designed to broaden your mind; they’re designed to reinforce cultural norms. If you want to truly break free from the mold, you have to challenge the norms.

The Vedas: If you grew up in an English-speaking country, with very few exceptions, you are steeped in Judeo-Christian philosophy. This singular approach is one of the reasons why Westerners have problems understanding any other culture. It doesn’t have to be the The Vedas, read the sacred text of any religion other than your own.

Hells Angels: Drugs, sex, violence, and crime. Hunter S. Thompson’s book about the motorcycle gang is a great examination of a counter-culture. Experiencing a counter-culture from the inside will greatly assist in understanding how subcultures work. Don’t like Thompson? Try Valley of the Dolls.

Lolita: When it comes to dealing with obsession and deviant desires, this may very well be the best novel ever written. Supremely dark and disturbing, it provides the readers with a look into the darker aspects of the human condition.

For Whom the Bell Tolls: Mass media has done a good job of convincing Americans that war is noble and full of glory. Hemmingway’s own wartime experiences contributed to the nature of the novel. If Hemingway isn’t your cup of tea, try any book written by a veteran that focuses on the emotions of the soldier, rather than his actions in combat.

The Communist Manifesto: Reading a book that outlines a differing political or economic system eases the understanding of other cultures and new political theories. Don’t want to be labeled a commie? Try Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and other essays.

The Giver: Reading or rereading a children’s book and examining the themes and events that were given to you as an adolescent provide the clearest view of what your society thinks you should believe. This particular story contains what I believe to be wonderful lessons for children to learn, but not all books assigned in school are so anti-authority.

Michael Collins: Tim Pat Coogan’s biography of the Irish terrorist/freedom fighter is a perfect example of how examining the lives of key players in historical events can demonstrate how biases and propaganda can change interpretations of actions. Imagine if the man that orchestrated bombings and assassinations had a Middle Eastern name instead of an Irish one. He probably wouldn’t be the title character in a Liam Neeson movie.

The Sagas of Icelanders: Reading a collection of pagan myths from any culture will help identify archetypal themes that existed long before today’s monotheistic religions. These themes are still pervasive throughout our everyday culture.

Mein Kampf: If you want to truly break free of today’s control systems, why not take a look at a book that graced the shelves of some of the most villainized people on the planet. After all, the Nazi control system was one of the most effective on the planet. What could be more informative than reading Hitler’s own words?

1984: George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the systems that governments and corporations use to keep populations under control. Any novel in this genre would fill the same role. 

Credit: Jorge Royan

Credit: Jorge Royan