War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Arguably one of the greatest works in the novel form, I find Tolstoy’s epic inquiry into the human condition amazing in its depth and intricacy. When I read it, I feel like I’m listening to some amazing symphony of human form, and that inevitably, no matter how impossible it is to predict, the end of this novel will be a perfect and graceful accumulation of even the most minute interactions between the most insignificant of characters.
The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche by H. L. Mencken
This book is a true classic. The “Sage of Baltimore” H. L. Mencken gives his two voluminous cents on the great opiner, Nietzsche. In this book is a hilarious biography of the man, followed by an interesting (if a bit antiquated and shallow) account of his philosophy.
The Aeneid by Vergil (Trans. Robert Fagles)
A classic that I read through in the original (if a bit halfheartedly and with liberal comprimise) in my last year of Latin instruction in high school. This new translation by Fagles is an absolute work of art, and a true pleasure to read in English. As a B+ Latin student whose translation abilities were really quite poor, it’s almost better than reading it in the original (even if you lose that extra pinch of pretentiousness that comes with it).
The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy by Stanley Cavell
Haven’t yet started this one yet but it’s part of my preparation for senior thesis. I’m saving it for my two-week foray back to New Mexico in July.