The four best books that you can read over one weekend that endow knowledge and wisdom.
An excellent question asked by a reader but one not easy to answer. I have rewritten this post five or six times as other books occurred to me whilst writing a response. I think that I have prepared sufficiently now and settled on four that I can stick with.
These books must be startling, educational, and well written whilst imbuing knowledge that may have gone unheeded. Without further preamble let us begin with….
Candide by François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
A gentle man clings tenaciously to the idea that his life is "the best of all possible worlds" despite being battered and slapped by fate from all sides. This eighteenth-century classic, which initially appears to be a funny, bantering story, is actually a vicious, satiric jab at the philosophical optimism that argues all tragedy and human misery is a result of a kind cosmic plan. The timeless story of "Candide" by the French philosopher is quick, humorous, and frequently provocative.
Voltaire lives up to his reputation as a scalpel with cutting wit in this enjoyable comedy where he questions thought of all kinds. Religious, moral, Ideological and status whilst still maintaining the pragmatism he was known for.
and so, to my next choice…..
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you; it had gone mad.
A seminal novel that had a wide range of influence in the century to follow, Heart of Darkness explores the disturbing idea that the sanity residing in the human psyche is frightfully close to the edge of madness.
This dark and disturbing work, whilst still an excellent novel, has changed the face of literature, psychiatry, and psychology since its release.
And to the next….
Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock
Karl Glogauer, time Traveller and unlikely Messiah. When he finds himself in Palestine in the year 29AD he is shocked to meet the man known as Jesus Christ - a drooling idiot, hiding in the shadows of the carpenter's shop in Nazareth. But if he (Jesus) is not capable of fulfilling his historical role, then who will take his place?
Originally banned throughout the Christian world few realized the significance of this novella. Whilst a debunking of Christian myth it is a sign of hope. Clever and considered.
and lastly and perhaps the most important….
The Letters of Malachai Malagrowther by Sir Walter Scott.
In 1826 Scott wrote the Letters of Malachi Malagrowther to attack British government proposals to reform the issue of banknotes by private banks. You, I assume, are thinking at this point, why has this been included in the four, but I have added it for good reason. Not only are the three collected letters some of the wittiest satire ever written but these are also a method of manipulation and changing history to suit your aims and ambitions.
Sir Walter, not only a literary genius, was also a political heavyweight. Whilst manipulating the media (newspapers only at that time) he was changing people's opinions and redefining what we now think of as history. Sir Walter was “spinning” news and information two hundred years before Trump and Johnston.
Well, those are my suggestions. I hope I have covered most of the spectrum of thought with these suggestions; Religious, political, philosophy, psychiatry, humor, the human condition, and our destructive tendencies. But I can think of a few other books so short as to be included.
I edited out “Animal Farm”, Peter Kamenzind”, Njals Saga, Call of the Wild, I Robot, and a few others all of which are worthy.