I thought I’d share my response to a new reader who asked me about my “favorite books regarding the grander questions?”
As far as the metaphysical questions I don’t have a great answer. You can demerit me all you want for intellectual softness but I know I’m lacking in my reading of philosophy. So here’s my picks. Eye roll away.
The 5 Love Languages
- The lesson is that connecting with others starts with recognizing that people are so different, especially in how they communicate. But there’s a much broader lesson embedded in this book if you read between the lines. Putting yourself in another’s shoes, as well-intentioned as you may be, is actually arrogant. Because the truth is, you can’t. If empathy through your own eyes is a prerequisite for getting along in this world then we are doomed. You must be humble enough to appreciate that you can’t fathom how another feels. Once you choose to care about a person then you must acknowledge their terms even if you can’t understand them.
- This is a sad, depressing love story of a father to his son. It’s pure sacrifice. The narrator’s melancholy mindset and recognition of impossible odds never derails his duty to his boy. It’s the pinnacle of grace.
- Naysayers will have a lot to object about Rand. But Roark embodied integrity. Integrity is more complicated than Rand presents. I don’t think the hardest questions are in here. But Roark is a good guide for many decisions life will throw at you even if he is an incomplete (or possibly just unfinished) hero.
- Imagine a pill that can give us all immortality. If you read this book that idea will fill you with dread. But you can take the lesson up a few levels of abstraction to my general conclusion: if you don’t think things through, the world will screw you by giving you what you want. Don’t make requests from a literal genie.