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Here on Ricochet lately, we’ve been having a number of discussions between and about “Social Conservatives” and “Libertarians.” (Don’t ask.) In this context a question arose which might be summarised as follows: “What have you read?” I should like to ask this question more generally – not least because there are certain books that can be an education in themselves.
But which ones, and why, specifically, should we read them? We’ve all only got so much time, and some of these books aren’t cheap. Without at least something to spark our interest or otherwise inspire us, the way to a vivid world of understanding may remain lost forever in the shadowy Terra Incognita of our minds; an echo of which may now and then reach us, before fading back “into the forest dim.” Sometimes even when we’ve gone and got the book, it sits there on our shelves waiting hopefully for a day that may never come.
Question: What book or books did you really learn something from, or gain a whole new sense of understanding from reading? Please particularly explain why others of us might find it worth making the effort to read them.
Maybe like those of Thomas Sowell, or F. A. Hayek, they explain a lot, or else vividly illustrate some old truth grown forgotten. Sometimes it may be a particular insight or way of looking at things; or some facet of Economics, or History, Philosophy, or even Literature. A book or writer that to you seems sadly neglected; one “well known,” but not much read. A chance to show your gratitude to the trusty ship, or even “little wooden boat,” on which you first set sail for new and unknown lands.
 (an Uncommon Knowledge episode, say)
 John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale.
 Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, January 11, 1989.Published in