Good books to read recommended by the scientist
“Don Quijote” by Cervantes Saavedra
–from “Quest” by Leopold Infeld
Much reading and book-learning can drive you to try and become one of the characters in your favorite novels. This is what happens to Don Quixote, who attempts many chivalrous knightly acts while hampered by a world that has rejected knightly virtues. The Guardian rightly placed this 400-year-old classic novel among the its all-time Top 100 books, and quite rightly between these three selections: Diary of a Madman, The Divine Comedy, and Anderson’s Fairy Tales. Cervantes weaves all three elements – madness, comedy, and fantasy – in between conversations and adventures shared between Quixote and Sancho Panza, his seemingly simple-minded but loyal and outspoken aide de camp.
“A Treatise of Human Nature” by David Hume
David Hume’s “Treatise of Human Nature“ had according to Einstein’s own words quite an influence on his development.
Exploring the link between science and human nature, or a scientifically applied moral philosophy, is the goal of this Treatise. Building on early complaints against the endless conjecture and wranglings between philosophers, this work promotes a move away from metaphysical speculation and a permanent shift toward systems based on observational fact. By banishing supernatural doctrine that looks beyond the existing world, fear and prejudice can take a backseat in human experience. Kennesaw State University listed this work in its Honors program, along with the famous Enquiry. KSU should have also included Hume’s friend Adam Smith, who worked out many of these philosophies in economics.
“None” by B. Kovner
“Isis Unveiled: Secrets of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition” by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
This was one of Einstein’s favorite books
Along with The Infinite Way and Kahlil Gabran’s The Prophet, this book made its way into Elvis Presley’s reading list. As a Theosophist, Blavatsky promoted pantheism and greatly influenced both Mahatma Gandhi and Annie Besant. In this work, spiritualism and occult practices are the base for examining ancient Eastern and Western wisdom, rather than the traditionally reversed path of finding knowledge. Like David Hume, Blavatsky examines existing philosophical systems and ideas and finds them to be inadquate, especially in the light of the Kabbala, the Vedas, and Nostradamus prophecies.
“The Brothers Karamasov” by Dostoevsky
Einstein very much liked to read The Karamasow Brothers by Dostojewski.
Also recommended by Vladimir Putin, mentioned in 5 Good Books To Read According To Haruki Murakami
This is of the best allegorical novels to explain the fractured nature of 19th century Russia. Each character is representative of one of the ruling classes. There is the father Fyodor, the landowner who is negligent about his land, but greedy in using its produce for himself. There’s Dmitri, who has been passed around from house to house, and has grown up an entitled but debt-ridden soul. There’s the skeptic Ivan, who wishes to live more among cold concepts than people. Third is gentle Alyosha, the mystic and religious peacemaker, and the illegitimate Smerdyakov. Throughout are themes of love, law, and duty, which makes this one of the best Dostoyesky books to read besides Crime and Punishment.