Wednesday, May 24, 2006

University of Life curriculum

If I had lots and lots of money, I would buy multiple copies of 4 books, and give them to everyone.

In no particular order, they are:
  1. The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to quit school and get a real life and education by Grace Llewellyn. More than a polemic on/defence of home schooling, it celebrates an attitude about education that I wish I'd been exposed to when I was in school.
  2. The Tyranny of Niceness: Unmasking the Need for Approval by Evelyn Sommers. A new classic that should be read by anyone who has ever doubted her/his need to express a true opinion or desire. That it is written by a Canadian is just too apt.
  3. Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (often referred to as the guy-with-the-unpronounceable-name), a psychologist who studies creativity and 'Optimal Experience'. This book is more the 'how to' version of his more academic tome, Flow. In it, he breaks down that state one gets into when working/playing at peak efficiency...breaks it down, describes it, and challenges each one of us to try to attain that high level of experience more often.
  4. Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton. "Keeping up with the Joneses" described, explained, and...forgiven. But the message is clear that your life will be better if you can rise above it, and de Botton's easy philosophical prose inspires you to re-evaluate your beliefs and values. Paradigm shifting, if you'll excuse the cliche...

Here's the challenge: What books would you add to the curriculum at the University of Life? What book has inspired you? Changed you?



Anonymous said...

I suppose Keri Hulme's The Bone People would count, although it was less the content than its readership. Not that that diminishes the terrific content anyway.


raincoaster said...

Euripedes' The Bacchae, to teach people what we are all capable of in the moments we might feel are our best but which are our worst. Or Donna Tartt's The Secret History, for the same reason: it's the same story.

Paradise Lost, because Hell is within us, and so is Heaven.

a h m a d said...

I would add "The 48 Laws of Power" for Robert Greene which is based on "The Art of War" for Sun Tzu and "The Prince" for Machiavelli and other old texts. As I am reading it, it is helping me see and understand the power games in the companies...

Greene recently released "The 33 Strategies of War" which is based solely on "The Art of War" and it helps the person better understand the original text and to put it into use. I couldn't find this book yet in the local bookstores.

Lori, Your list sounds so interesting. I will try to see if I can find it in the local bookstore or else I will have to order it from Amazon. Thank you. :)

Lori said...

Ahmad -- I really enjoyed "48 Laws of Power"! Fun to read, and it felt like I was spying on the enemy.

I also bought that book for a friend who is likes history and who is a union negotiator -- I thought it would be useful for him to understand his opponents.

Raincoaster -- I will read "The Secret History," since I've already started it. And you've added some interesting classics to the list...

Metro -- kiss kiss. :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori, it's your cousin Ron.
Coincidentally I read "Status Anxiety" a couple of months ago. It was good, but I was already of the "Simplicité Volontaire" mindset that he espouses, so it was like preaching to the choir. I got some ammo from it though, to use against my Über-consumer colleagues. :)

If you liked that you'd also like "To Have or To Be" by Erich Fromm I think.

Lori said...

That's the problem with so many of the best books...the 'wrong' people read them -- not the people who really need them, but the people who are getting confirmation for what they already know.

Hence my desire to buy them for everyone....

Anyway, Ron. Great to see you here!