One genre that I really dove into this year was philosophy. I really wish I had studied this more in school as it’s been some of the most important reading I have ever done, but the topic never interested me in my younger years. Now it seems so vital, so central to who I am, that I can’t imagine my life without it.
I’d like to offer up some of the best philosophy and character development books I read this year that all have one thing in common: they are written for regular people and are intended to help regular people navigate real life. This is not academic philosophy. This is real, useful, easy to understand advice from ancient philosophy filtered through some very gifted writers. Here they are:
I read this when I was feeling really down and dragged down by life and it really helped me frame some things in new ways. It is incredibly accessible and I consider it especially appropriate your younger people (teens, college, and early 20s).
In a word, this book was beautiful. Beautiful in the way it was written (and translated), beautiful in it’s intent, beautiful in it’s message. A very happy, hopeful, inquiring look at happiness.
Rod Dreher cannot write something I do not love. This is part memoir, part self help and it’s wonderful. Dreher recounts his own study of Dante’s Divine Comedy as he was battling depression and difficult issues with his family. You might especially like this if you are a person of strong Christian faith like Dreher. It inspired me to pick up my own copy of The Divine Comedy and give it a reading (which I started but have admittedly not finished yet).
I loved Brooks’ previous book, The Social Animal, and this one was just as good. It’s basically a reading on how we as a culture used to consider character versus how we have all but discarded the idea of character development for personal fulfillment in our modern culture.
The following two were audio courses I listened to through Audible this year. I classify them as books as if they were audio books. They were both excellent to listen to while driving, on walks or runs, etc. The first one is a bit more accessible than the second, but the second is more connected to the theme of philosophy and character than the first. If you listen to wither of these, you may find (like me) that they take time to process and it may take months to get through them in doses. But that’s ok!
Want to learn about other religions and be able to hold your own in conversation about them? Listen to this. It’s fun, accessible, and fascinating.
Want to learn a little bit about how all the major religions and philosophical traditions approach the meaning of life? Of course you do! This audio course will walk you through everything from The Dalai Lama to Native American tradition to the Book of Job to The Bhagavad Gita.