We will start with Mr. Bill Bryson as he has done a fundamentally wonderful job of making some of the most far reaching ideas and theories available to people whom you would more often than not see at the opening of shitty zombie films [Resident Evil NOT INCLUDED=].
It is a fantastic book that literally takes you through the first inklings of a universe to all the major and overlooked contributions that have brought us to where we stand today, which is the brink of global apocalypse… sorry, its just as it is. Of course, as near complete species wipeouts have happened 5 such times, wipeout refers now to those reading, and not the planet itself. It is a planet, we are small. Dont worry about it [planet], worry about it being able to care for you.
Next we have Alain de Botton and his genius book, The Consolations of Philosophy. After reading Mr. Brysons you may be a bit aghast at the situation we find ourselves in and will need a bit of picking up, not to mention some insight into why possibly things are as they are. For instance, how did we ever get to the point where it is completely relevant and natural to speak of a planet full of sun, rain, good food, butterflies and chihuahuas in a way that questions whether we have passed the point of no return for our species?
Directly below is a TED.com Talk by Mr. Alain de Botton, how would one say that anyway, Mr. de Botton… I guess thats right, fantastic talk, extremely insightful, given by a gentleman, you could only be better off for having watched it!
Next, we have Mr. John Berger and the Ways of Seeing. Again, masterful and genius, it literally walks you through history and advertising. I bet you are completely unaware that there was advertising on a mass scale in the times of Kings and Queens, I was! This may help you see, as the book implies, a new way of looking at what is being shown to you on a nearly daily basis unless you live away from it all. coupled with the Consolations of Philosophy, you can get a very complete picture of how easy it is to manipulate a human. Or, to state it better, how easily we allow ourselves to be manipulate. Victim or Volunteer. Look at the planet, you tell me.
At this point I wonder which is better, Schopenhauer or Gun Germs and Steel, I opt for Schopenhauer, you may feel otherwise, but I feel after reading so much about the hows and whys, we should get personal and look inward a bit, a lot actually. In his papers, particularly an essay aptly titled, “the Meaning of Life”, I have found much peace and understanding. Beyond that, it will be a personal journey and if at first you find you cant get into it, TRY ANOTHER TRANSLATION, or read it as he wrote it in German. Remember, when reading translations you must always try a few of them out, as I learned in reading the Tao Te Ching. Different translations will many times completely alter what you are reading.
Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond explains a few things and truth be told, i set myself free by openly admitting to have only read half of it and then giving it away. I got what I felt I needed, for me it was to understand the drive of man and mans ability to twist truth to accomplish utterly evil ends all in the name of god. An extremely eye opening book, but then, with eye opening books, they usually only open eyes that have been looking to be opened and those that wish to remain shut never seek them out in the first place, kind of like going to a vegan bar b q in the hopes of converting meat eaters to veganism.
The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu, whom, to this day not much is truly know of the gentleman, his very name he attributed this great work to is translated as Old Boy. Essentially, it is THE Taoist doctrine and is written in a way that the youngest children can read it, but the wisest sage may have trouble understanding it. It is life in words, the entire universe in an almost poetic form. This is a cornerstone of reading for anyone who wishes to become enlightened by reading anothers words. After all, how often will you read a most profound book in this day and age and not be able to find anything concrete about the author!
Next we are off the the wonderful mind of Piers Anthony and the GeOdyssey Series –
Here Mr. Anthony takes all the knowledge which Bill Bryson expounded on in regard to human development, begins and ends each chapter with the science and in between writes a story that takes you through the ages of man as it most likely would have been played out based on our knowledge of our interpretation of the fossil record and the fact that Mr. Anthony is a literary genius. It is a multi volume epic, Do try and read them in order!