A Canon of Modern Understanding

I finished Tom Friedman’s excellent The World is Flat last weekend, and got started on Linked soon thereafter. It struck me that books like these are more than interesting, they’re important to people who want to understand the world we live in.

This got me thinking about what books I’d give my kids to help them navigate the world they’ll live in. Much has been written about the set of books that teach fundamental concepts of western culture, and this list is a pretty good one for any American trying to grasp the big picture. That said, the rate of change today is such that no list of dusty classics could ever illuminate the world fully. A new list is required, a kind of canon of modern understanding that grows and changes with the times in which we live.

Here’s my first cut, obviously too business centric and incomplete, but I welcome your comments:

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One Response to A Canon of Modern Understanding

  1. il cappo tod says:

    interesting list, heavy on business titles as you say, but several titles on there i haven’t read but will now check out. funny, as i think about what books i want to share with my son, i think about ‘the sun also rises’, ‘the unbearable lightness of being,’ ‘hamlet,’ ‘siddhartha,’ ‘foucault’s pendulum,’ ‘100 years of solitude,’ ‘animal farm,’ the Aubrey/Maturin series, ‘The Odyssey…’ on the surface, a pretty different approach to understanding our world; but at heart, as i think about it, these books talk about human frailty, love, commitment, betrayal, tragedy, joy, enlightenment, art, danger… and, when read and enjoyed and valued, these books – let’s call them literature help foster (i hope) an appreciation for discovery, for beauty, for conflict, for pain – in a literary context of course. there’s the base i hope i can share with my son, and then, perhaps, i’ll send him a list of business tomes for his perusal 😉

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