Three Thinkers for 2018

Just before the new year, I published a blog piece briefly reviewing and explaining some of my favourite books which I read in 2017. I have decided to follow that post up with this post: three thinkers you must “check-out” in 2018.

Owen Barfield
My obsession with JRR Tolkien is what originally lead me to the Inklings, and thus to Owen Barfield, one of the groups most respected thinkers. Owen Barfield was an author, poet and Philosopher, as well as a Professor at Oxford University. During his Undergraduate years at Oxford, he became close friends with C.S. Lewis, who later went on to dedicate the first of his Narnia books to Barfield’s daughter, Lucy, who was also Lewis’ goddaughter.

Barfield specialised – albeit somewhat controversially – in consciousness, the power of imagination and anti-reductionism. His work is, by no means, an easy read. Matters of consciousness are never easy, to put it lightly. However, if you really want to put your brain to the test, and learn about a truly classical thinker, Owen Barfield might be the man for you in 2018.

Books I recommend from Owen Barfield: Saving The Appearances: A Study in Idolatry. Poetic Diction. Romanticism Comes of Age.

GK Chesterton
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a writer who could be so serious, yet so witty and funny at the same time. Chesterton was certainly a one of a kind writer, specialising in Theology and Philosophy – he was a famous thorn in the side of HG Wells. You will, however, have to take Chesterton with a pinch of salt. He was a product of the late 19th and early 20th Century, and some of his political views and choice of words are a reminder of that.

Books I recommend from GK Chesterton: The Everlasting Man.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I briefly mentioned Solzhenitsyn in my 2017 book recommendations. Solzhenitsyn was a truly classical thinker; a staunch critic of the Soviet Union and Marxism following his imprisonment in one of Stalin’s infamous gulags. Solzhenitsyn’s style of thought and writing can only be described as brutally clinical, often going into important and gritty details. He was also a great critic of modern society, but his criticisms were far from the usual political objections, and he often wrote about the deep moral underpinnings of society (or the decline of that underpinning, to be more accurate).

Books I recommend from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Gulag Archipelago. Cancer Ward. One Day in The Life of Ivan.

Book Recommendations From 2017

Below you will find a list of my favourite non-fiction books that I have read in 2017 – the cream of the crop, as they say!
Anything you recommend for 2018?

Politics

Conservatism, Roger Scruton [4/5]
Famous philosopher, and fellow High Wycomber, Sir Roger Scruton breaks down precisely what Conservatism is. Scruton does a magnificent job of cutting through the usual misconceptions and misunderstandings that people have towards Conservatism, and lays out a fairly detailed history behind the ideology.

Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, Daniel Guerin [4/5]

This book was recommended to me by Noam Chomsky himself via email quite a while ago. I have finally got round to finishing it, and can say that it lived up to my expectations. Guerin seems to cover every aspect of Anarchism in this short work, albeit from a fairly biased perspective.

The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn [5/5]
Possibly one of the greatest books I have ever read, and was a fantastic way to kick off 2017 back in January. Solzhenitsyn, with his usual accuracy and blunt style, cuts through the “that’s not real communism” myth with this masterpiece. Not only is The Gulag Archipelago a attack on the Soviet regime, it also demonstrates how people can logically plan and justify atrocities under the influence of Marxist/Communist doctrine. A complete eye-opener for a former Leftist like myself.
Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke [4/5]

Prophetic piece of work from Burke. In this book, he explains why he thinks the French Revolution will go down hill, as the old saying goes. Given the rise of Napoleon, Burke was clearly right.

Government Bullies, Senator Rand Paul [4/5]
An incredible book from Paul exposing how the American government and politicians, both Republican and Democrat, are destroying liberty. Quite a disturbing read.

Philosophy

Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant [4/5]
Highly recommend. In this book Kant sets out to demonstrate how there are different types of truths, judgments and knowledge. It will certainly test your brain.

A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis [5/5]
Easily the most moving book I have read in 2017. After waiting many years for the love of his life, Lewis’ wife passes away of cancer after just 3 years of marriage. Lewis reflects upon her passing in raw detail, and how it challenged his view on God and Religion. I would highly recommend reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis himself before moving on to A Grief Observed.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis [4/5]
C.S. Lewis appears on my list for a second time. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes a case for the religion of Christianity in its purest form. I highly recommend that everyone, whether you are an atheist, theist or agnostic reads this book. It is a collection of deep philosophical musings on Christianity that are completely separate from dogma and denomination.

A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Edmund Burke [5/5]

Edmund Burke has become one of my favourite philosophers over the past few months. This is, perhaps, his greatest work. A great introduction to the philosophy of aesthetics. A classic, which dives into our conceptions of what is beautiful.

Psychology

Maps of Meaning; The Architecture of Belief, Jordan B. Peterson [4/5]
I started reading this book in December 2016, but I didn’t finish it until February 2017. For some reason, I found this a very tough read, but an incredible one. Peterson offers an alternative explanation for the origins and architecture of religious/spiritual belief, and it is incredible to try and get your head around.

Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, C.G. Jung [4/5]

The theory of synchronicity is, at least to me, one of the most interesting theories in the psychology. There is quite a bit of maths and statistics in this book, which does make it a tough read. Nonetheless, it is very interesting. Jung was never frightened to dive into frowned upon topics, as demonstrated within this book.

History

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown [5/5]
A moving historical account of the genocide against the Native American people. Brown displays a whole array of photographs, first hand accounts, newspaper articles and commentary to tell the tragic story of the Native Americans in the American West.
Hitler’s Table Talk, compiled by Martin Bormann [5/5]
These transcripts of Hitler’s everyday discussions are both interesting and extremely disturbing. Reading about what Hitler would say over lunch gives the reader a huge insight into the mind of one of the most evil men to have ever lived. A must read.