Global Constant
Steve Nay's ramblings

Influential writing

Scott Cowley on Twitter posits that “You don’t earn the title of ‘well-read’ by reading blog posts and news articles.” I mostly agree with his premise. Long-form printed literature is still instrumental in shaping the way we think and act as individuals and as a society. But modern evolutions of writing—blog posts, essays, ebooks—also have intellectually shaping capabilities. They both have place in the library of an educated, well-read citizen.

Here are some of the books that have profoundly influenced my thinking:

  1. The Chosen (Chaim Potok) for its exposition of true friendship and loyalty.
  2. 1984 (George Orwell), ever more relevant an investigation of technology and government and the disaster they can create if left unchecked.
  3. Hamlet (William Shakespeare), if not merely for its quotability (“Alas, poor Yorick!”), serves as a tragic warning against greed and revenge.
  4. A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens), a well-known classic with a prominent place on my annual reading list, extols the virtues of empathy and charity.
  5. Walden (Henry David Thoreau), which emphasizes the importance of self-reliance, contemplation, and introspection.

In the short-form category, these pieces have had a similarly powerful effect on my life:

  1. The Mansion (Henry van Dyke), a Christian short story about the proper use of wealth.
  2. Buying Happiness (Jeff Atwood), which explains how to make you and others happier through wise choices.
  3. Totally like whatever, you know? (Taylor Mali), which powerfully discusses the need for clear thinking, speaking, and writing. This video is the best way to experience the poem.
  4. The Regret Fallacy (Dan Shipper) – make the best decisions you can and then be happy with them.
  5. Caring for Your Introvert (Jonathan Rauch), a guide for introverts (like me) and their loved ones to understand how they think.

A book, a play, a poem, a short story, an article, two blog posts, and three novels. Plenty of variety.

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