I think the books that you read when you’re young are the ones most likely to influence and shape the rest of your life. I didn’t read much SF and fantasy in high school; I tended to read more historical fiction (I devoured a lot of Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt during this time), and I even read classic stories that weren’t assigned in English class. But one of the books that’s influenced me the most was recommended to me by a friend. It’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. If you’re not familiar with this work, on one level, it’s the story of a man and his son on a cross-country motorcycle trip. On another level, it’s the story of that man’s search for truth. He starts with science and travels into philosophy, going back to the Greeks. They decided the Good and the True are not the same, which has led to a split between rational and aesthetic ways of thinking that still influences our society. Although this may sound like an intimidating book, it’s actually quite readable. I’ve read this book multiple times, to the point where my paper copy is beaten up and full of underlines. Good thing I also have it on my Kindle. I find the section on gumption particularly helpful at times when I’m struggling.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance introduced me to Taoism, which has influenced my spiritual thinking. Other books that have affected my philosophy include Illusions by Richard Bach (though I read Illusions II this year and found it didn’t resonate with me the way the first book did), The Tao of Pooh, and The Te of Piglet.
I’m well past my high school years, but other books still affect my thinking. A People’s History of the World has given me some ideas I want to use in a book someday. I’m also going meatless this month after reading Meatonomics last month.
What non-fiction books have shaped your philosophy?