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12 August 2011


I suppose it would be great to believe that college freshman today are truly embarking on a journey toward wisdom and all the richness and benefits of higher education, but so often this just isn't the case. What they mainly get out of all those years of school are lots of hangovers, some (hopefully) not life threatening STD's, and massive debt in the form of student loans. So much of the educational process is really just indoctrination, political correctness and learning how to spit back whatever the particular professor wants to hear. The individual institution and the particular paradigm at hand are all that truly matter: A life changing experience, something truly challenging and forever memorable, not necessarily the case!

Instead of giving a new college frosh a laptop, I'd rather give them the wisdom in the following books. If they understand even parts of what is contained in the following works by the time they graduate, they will be very well served indeed for the rest of their lives.

Nassim N. Taleb
The Black Swan
Fooled by Randomness
Not the easiest ideas to grasp, but Taleb is a superb writer. Reading his work is a humbling experience. The man is truly an amazing philosopher but his advice is also so practical and necessary. They're not likely to teach this stuff in college so study it on your own!

Susun S. Weed
Healing Wise
The ultimate book on healing! So much clarity it is difficult to fathom how Weed was able to condense all that wisdom into a few hundred pages. If I had to recommend one book on herbal medicine, and life, this would be it. Susun Weed is an American treasure! The more life you live, the more relevant her words become.

Nora Gedgaudas
Primal Body, Primal Mind
The one book that makes clear how wrong our modern diet has gone and how to remedy the problem. This book could be titled "Everything You've Been Taught About Nutrition is Probably Wrong." Gedgaudas is completely direct and honest, no frills here, just great information! Her work combines the best of traditional wisdom with modern science. Simply an outstanding primer on health and nutrition for someone just starting out in life. Ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science! WARNING: This book may be hazardous to a vegetarian lifestyle and all politically correct diets!

F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
OK, I'm an English professor. I had to throw in some literature. Still the greatest American novel ever written. The passing decades have not dimmed in any way its beauty or relevance.

Leo Tolstoy
The Death of Ivan Ilyich
Every important life lesson is found in Tolstoy's work. If you understand this book, you get what's really important in life and in death.

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