The best books on philosophies

Who am I?

Philosophy is defined as “the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.” Put another way, it is not so much the study of things and phenomena, but the derivative question below the veneer of what things are. I am interested in everything, how everything works, but also why it, and all of nature, including the mind and eyelashes, exist in the first place. I can remember back to childhood always thinking like this. This involves grasping for knowledge of both the details and global contexts of everything, whether it’s biology, chemistry, religion, neuroscience, horticulture, violence, goodness, hockey, or even what Plato was trying to say.

I wrote...

Book cover of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain

What is my book about?

For his first fifty-eight years, James Fallon was by all appearances a normal guy. A successful neuroscientist and professor, he'd been raised in a loving family, married his high school sweetheart, and had three kids and lots of friends. Then he learned a shocking truth that would not only disrupt his personal and professional life, but would lead him to question the very nature of his own identity.

While researching serial killers, he uncovered a pattern in their brain scans that helped explain their cold and violent behavior. Astonishingly, his own scan matched that pattern. And a few months later he learned that he was descended from a long line of murderers. Fallon set out to reconcile the truth about his own brain with everything he knew as a scientist about the mind, behavior, and personality.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, Vol. I

Why did I love this book?

I was psychiatrically diagnosed as a successful prosocial psychopath. After being notified of this and giving a TED Talk on this in 2009 Literary agent Jane Dystel contacted me with a deal to write a memoir. So I first searched out other memoirs written by a successful prosocial psychopath and the granddaddy of all whacky true life bad boys was the first. As his full memoir volumes are 3,500 delicious pages in length, the 2,500 truncated version will do just fine.

By Jacques Casanova De Seingalt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt, Vol. I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was born in Venice in 1725 to actress Zanetta Farussi, wife of actor and dancer Gaetano Giuseppe Casanova. Giacomo was the first of six children, being followed by Francesco Giuseppe (1727–1803), Giovanni Battista (1730–1795), Faustina Maddalena (1731–1736), Maria Maddalena Antonia Stella (1732–1800), and Gaetano Alvise (1734–1783). At the time of Casanova's birth, the Republic of Venice thrived as the pleasure capital of Europe, ruled by political and religious conservatives who tolerated social vices and encouraged tourism. It was a required stop on the Grand Tour, traveled by young men coming of age, especially Englishmen. The famed Carnival,…

Book cover of Strange Angel: The Otherworldly Life of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons

Why did I love this book?

For my entire life, since I was seven years old, I had one science hero, Leonardo da Vinci. Then I found a true all-pro, planetary weirdo to marvel at, John Whiteside Parsons. Not quite a scientist, more a techno-engineering DYI genius. He really really made things, including himself, go boom. Like Parsons, as a youngster, I loved making explosives from scratch. He was THE pioneer who brought the world into the rocket age. And oh, on the side he was a downtown L.A. sex-crazed occultist.

By George Pendle,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Strange Angel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Forget geek stereotypes. Parsons' life seems straight out of a Hollywood thriller ... Pendle's book leaves us with a taste of genius's energy and fragility' Los Angeles Magazine

'You couldn't make it up' Physics World

'As a history of space travel, STRANGE ANGEL is a cornerstone ... Highly recommended' Ray Bradbury

BRILLIANT ROCKET SCIENTIST KILLED IN EXPLOSION screamed the front-page headline of the Los Angeles Times on 18 June 1952. John Parsons, a maverick rocketeer whose work had helped transform the rocket from a derided sci-fi plotline into a reality, was at first mourned as a tragically young victim of…

Book cover of The Complete Works of Plato, Volume I

Why did I love this book?

After 2,400 years, Plato finally won the battle against Socrates, Aristotle, Avicenna, Rousseau, Locke, Freud, French and Neo-Liberalism, and most parents of two-year-olds. According to 21st-century neuroscientists, as Plato provided in the Allegory of the Cave, the prescient idea is that we are not born as blank slates, but rather have the basic knowledge of beauty, good and evil baked into our prenatal brain (genetically preformed circuits!)

By Plato,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Works of Plato, Volume I as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Collected here in two volumes are the complete works of Plato, in the classic translation by Benjamin Jowett. One of the most influential thinkers of Ancient Greece or any other era, Plato formed the basis of Western philosophy. Mostly written in the form of dialogues with his teacher Socrates as the protagonist, his works address themes as varied as metaphysics, psychology, pedagogy, politics, and ethics. Despite the weighty subject matter, Plato's writing remains accessible to the general reader, and infused with wit and humor. Why is Plato worth reading today? His dialogues are vitally concerned with how we should live.…

Four Essays on Liberty

By Isaiah Berlin,

Book cover of Four Essays on Liberty

Why did I love this book?

I mention this book as a way to listen to some old hour-long video talks by the sage Isaiah Berlin. He did, in fact, hate to write, but he loved talking. After reading any of his several essays, go right to the meat. Which will give the political, philosophical How-to Guide to leading a Nazi, Marxist or Terrorist revolution. I give talks and podcasts on the biological psychiatry of such evils and he is my go-to guy.

By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Four Essays on Liberty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The four essays are `Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century'; `Historical Inevitability', which the Economist described as `a magnificent assertion of the reality of human freedom, of the role of free choice in history'; `Two Concepts of Liberty', a ringing manifesto for pluralism and individual freedom; and `John Stuart Mill and the Ends of Life'. There is also a long and masterly introduction written specially for this collection, in which the author replies to his critics. This book is intended for students from undergraduate level upwards studying philosopohy, history, politics. Admirers of Isaiah Berlin's writings.


By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of Beartown

Why did I love this book?

I was a collegiate downhill and giant slalom racer but could never skate. But in my adulthood, I really got hooked on NHL hockey and have had, until this year, Anaheim Ducks season tickets since 2000. Greatest mind-blowing violent ballet sport of all time. So I read this book Beartown because it is about hockey. It’s really more about a one-sport town in the Canadian provincial wilderness dying, and the rape that started Beartown circling the drain.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Beartown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?



'I utterly believed in the residents of Beartown and felt ripped apart by the events in the book' JOJO MOYES

'I couldn't put it down. Heart-rending and engrossing' 5***** Reader Review

In a large Swedish forest, Beartown hides a dark secret . . .

Cut-off from everywhere else, it experiences the kind of isolation that tears people apart.

And each year, more and more of the town is swallowed by the forest.

Then the town is offered…

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