Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.


This page contains a list of books: my favorite books, a list of books I’ve read, another list of books I want to read, and a collection of my favorite quotes.

The following are titles worth reading as a foundation to good thought and the pursuit of your own philosophy. These are the titles I would want to take with me should aliens come to take me away forever, or the books I’d recommend to young adults looking to develop their world view and jump-start their personal philosophy. Some few books are sometimes enough, as suggested by Seneca: “You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind.” For my own reasons, I’ve taken care to list these titles in recommended order of reading.

  1. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  2. Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson (particularly Self Reliance)
  3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (George Long translation recommended)
  4. The Enchiridion by Epictetus
  5. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca
  6. Moral Letters to Lucilius by Seneca (click here for audio playlist)
  7. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorn
  8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorn
  9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

This list is comprehensive and includes the books listed above. I’ve organized them by alphabetically and by author for easy reference, and have provided review ranking of 1 to 5 stars *. I only with the list were longer.

  • Adams, Douglass
    • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy *****
    • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe *****
    • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish *****
  • Alighieri, Dante
    • The Divine Comedy *****
  • Alger, Horatio & Alger, Horatio Jr.
    • Ragged Dick ***
    • Strive and Succeed ***
    • Only an Irish Boy ***
    • Struggling Upward ***
    • Do and Dare ***
    • A Boy’s Fortune ***
    • Chester Rand ***
  •  Anonymous
    • The Bible **
  • Aristophanes
    • The Birds ****
  • Asimov, Isaac
    • i Robot *****
  • Aurelius, Marcus
    • Meditations (George Long translation) *****
  • Bradbury, Ray
    • Fahrenheit 451
  • Burgess, Anthony
    • A Clockwork Orange
  • Carroll, Lewis
    • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Cervantes, Miguel de
    • Don Quixote *****
  • Conrad, Joseph
    • Heart of Darkness ***
  • Dawkins, Richard
    • The God Delusion ****
    • The Selfish Gene *****
  • De Kehoe, Joe
    • The Silence and the Sun *****
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo
    • Essays *****
  • Epictetus
    • The Enchiridion *****
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel
    • The Scarlet Letter *****
    • The House of the Seven Gables *****
  • Herbert, Frank
    • Dune ***
  • Golding, William
    • The Lord of the Flies *****
  • Griffin, John Howard
    • Black Like Me ***
  • Hemingway, Ernest
    • The Old Man and the Sea ****
  • Homer
    • The Odyssey *****
  • Kerouac, Jack
    • On the Road ***
  • Kesey, Ken
    • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ***
  • King, Stephen
    • Joyland ***
    • Pet Sematary ***
    • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon **
    • The Green Mile ***
  • Krakauer, Jon
    • Into the Wild ****
    • Into Thin Air ***
  • Lewis, C.S.
    • Mere Christianity ***
    • The Screwtape Letters *****
    • The Great Divorce **
    • The Problem of Pain ***
    • A Grief Observed **
  • Lingenfelter, Richard E.
    • Death Valley & the Amargosa *****
  • London, Jack
    • The Call of the Wild *****
    • To Build a Fire *****
    • White Fang ***
  • Lorimer, George Horace
    • Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to his Son ****
  • Melville, Herman
    • Billy Budd, Sailor *****
    • Moby Dick *****
  • Norman, John (I read this series in my teens)
    • Tarnsman of Gor *
    • Outlaw of Gor *
    • Priest Kings of Gor *
    • Nomads of Gor *
    • Assassin of Gor *
    • Raiders of Gor *
  • Orwell, George
    • 1984 *****
    • Animal Farm *****
  • Poe, Edgar Allan
    • The Raven *****
    • The Fall of the House of Usher ****
    • The Cask of Amontillado ****
    • The Pit and the Pendulum *****
  • Rand, Ayn
    • Atlas Shrugged **
  • Saint-Exupery, Antoine
    • The Little Prince ****
  • Salinger, J.D.
    • The Catcher in the Rye
  •  Seneca
    • Moral Letters to Lucilius *****
    • On the Shortness of Life *****
  • Shubin, Neil
    • Your Inner Fish *****
  • Sinclair, Upton
    • The Jungle ****
  • Steinbeck, John
    • Cannery Row *****
    • Of Mice and Men *****
    • The Grapes of Wrath *****
    • The Log from the Sea of Cortez **
    • The Pearl **
    • Tortilla Flat **
    • Travels With Charlie **
    • Sweet Thursday *****
    • Working Days **
  • Stoker, Bram
    • Dracula ****
  • Stow, Harriet Beecher
    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin ***
  • Strobel, Lee
    • The Case for Christ **
  • Thoreau, Henry David
    • Civil Disobedience ***
    • Life Without Principal ****
    • Walden *****
  • Tolkien, J.R.R.
    • The Lord of the Rings ****
    • The Hobbit ****
  • Twain, Mark
    • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn *****
    • Tom Sawyer *****
  • Vonnegut, Kurt
    • Slaughterhouse Five ****

Titles I hope to complete in my remaining days. This list is organized by priority which means the books I want to read first are at the top of the list.

  1. Losing Faith in Faith – Dan Barker
  2. Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats – W.B. Yeats
  3. Epic of Gilgamesh – Anonymous
  4. David Copperfield – Charles Dickins
  5. The Invention of Nature. Alexander von Humboldt’s New World – Andrea Wulf
  6. The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul – Douglas Adams
  7. Letter to a Christian Nation – Sam Harris
  8. Great Expectations – Charles Dickins
  9. God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens
  10. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner
  11. Nightfall – Isaac Asimov
  12. A Universe From Nothing – Lawrence M. Krauss
  13. Leaves of Grass – Walt Witman
  14. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  15. Walking – Henry David Thoreau
  16. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers – Henry David Thoreau
  17. Ulysses – James Joyce
  18. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  19. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allen Poe
  20. Paradise Lost – John Milton
  21. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  22. Le Miserables – Victor Hugo
  23. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  24. The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  25. Emma – Jane Austen
  26. Fathers and Sons – Ivan Turgenev
  27. Brave New World – Aldus Huxley
  28. Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler
  29. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  30. Poems by Emily Dickinson – Emily Dickinson
  31. The Adventures of Oliver Twist
  32. Basho: The Complete Haiku – Basho
  33. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke

Below are a growing collection of my favorite quotes from the above listed writings.

It takes a tranquil and untroubled mind to roam freely across all parts of life.

-On the Shortness of Life by Seneca

Where do we find ourselves? In a series of which we do not know the extremes, and believe that it has none. We wake, and find ourselves on a stair; there are stairs below us, which we seem to have ascended; there are stairs above us, many a one, which go upward and out of sight. But the Genius which, according to the old belief, stands at the door by which we enter, and gives us the lethe to drink, that we may tell no tales, mixed the cup too strongly, and we cannot shake off the lethargy now at noonday. Sleep lingers all our lifetimes about the eyes, as night hovers all day in the boughs of the fir-tree. All things swim and glimmer. Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. Ghost-like we glide through nature, and should not know our place again.

-Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

When a man’s spirit has been thoroughly crushed, he may be peevish at small offenses, but never resentful of great ones.

-The House of the Seven Gables by Nathanial Hawthorn

Whatever years lie behind us are in death’s hands.

-Moral Letters to Lucilius by Seneca

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.

-Moral Letters to Lucilius by Seneca

“Give me the principles, and I will find the proofs myself.” -Chrysippus

I like this quote very much. However, I’d like it even more if there were some suggestion of what Chrysippus would do should the proofs prove nonexistent or of poor quality. Perhaps a slight change could communicate this important step:

Give me the principals, and I will find and attempt to discredit the proofs myself.

Be you still, be you still, trembling heart;
Remember the wisdom out of the old days:
Him who trembles before the flame and the flood,
And the winds that blow through the starry ways,
Let the starry winds and the flame and the flood
Cover over and hide, for he has no part
With the lonely, majestical multitude.

-W. B. Yeats



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