Books to read “in able to have a basic conversation”

Warning: No neuroscience or ecology or economics, just me posting something I want to save for personal interest. I try to keep this blog relatively on-topic, but hey, it’s the holidays.

I may be a scientist, but my personal interests tend to the philosophy-history-literature axis of things. The problem is, there is always so much to read! Right now I’m on a classic in Polish literature (something I only recently discovered exists).

Here is a list of books that Joseph Brodsky thinks you should read before you can have a basic conversation with him. As an example, here is a personalized reading list:

Simone WeilThe Need for Roots

Lev ShestovAthens and Jerusalem

Hannah Arendt,The Origins of Totalitarianism

Andrey Platonov, The Foundation Pit [PERSONAL NOTE: I hated this book.]

George Santayana, Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies 

E.M. CioranThe Temptation to Exist

Søren KierkegaardEither/Or

Alternatively, here is a collection of syllabi from 10 famous authors. Possibly the best syllabi:

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