All my posts so far have introduced books that I think are well worth reading during your summer break. (See the full list of books referred to in previous posts at the end of this entry.) Why read? Nassim Taleb in Antifragile:
. . . the worst thing one can do to feel one knows things a bit deeper is to try to go into them a bit deeper. The sea gets deeper as you go further into it, according to a Venetian proverb. Curiosity is antifragile, like an addiction, and is magnified by attempts to satisfy it – books have a secret mission and ability to multiply, as everyone who has wall-to-wall bookshelves knows well.
So, what I am trying to do is dig a little deeper and sometimes also further back in time to understand how some ideas first came into being. As Charlie Munger put it:
The more basic knowledge you have . . . the less new knowledge you have to get.
My additional recommendations for this summer do not all go back to the source, but are rather books about very old books. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.
The Mighty Dead – Why Homer Matters, by Adam Nicholson. I reread both the Iliad and the Odyssey recently and found reading the poems rather hard work to be honest. Then I stumbled across this 2014 book. I started reading to understand Homer better. But the book amazes as an archaeological Indiana Jones’ journey through Europe and Eurasia. The Daily Telegraph wrote: ‘. . . a compelling case for viewing Homer as a cluster of the qualities that still underlie our civilisation. He is horror. He is honour. He is home. He is us.’
The Lagoon – How Aristotle Invented Science, by Armand Marie Leroi. Not many people would want to dig through all that Aristotle wrote on biology and natural philosophy. Instead, you might really enjoy this book when you travel to Greece. Or anywhere else where they serve great seafood really. As the Observer put it: ‘This big, sumptuous book made me hungry. Intellectually, to learn about the classical world’s take on what we now call science. But it made me viscerally and literally hungry: for grilled fish, oysters, figs and meze, and to sit on the shores of the Aegean idling at barnacles and cuttlefish copulating in the spume. Not bad for a science book.’
The Great Sea – A Human History of the Mediterranean. (I seem it bit biased towards the Mediterranean this summer.) To counter the stories about just one or a few — although great — men or books, I will attempt to read this sweeping history of the Mediterranean. I hope to find another great travel book combined with lots of new insights on how our current world came into being. The Sunday Times writes: ‘His book is full of intrepid explorers, anxious pilgrims, enterprising merchants, ambitious politicians and terrified refugees . . . such a treasure trove.’
The books introduced in my posts so far, are all well worth taking on your summer holiday as well:
- The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig. See my blog post from March for what you can expect.
- Filters Against Folly by Garrett Hardin. See my blog post from April for what you can expect.
- The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. See my blog post from June for what you can expect.
Enjoy your summer.