Philosophy

Summer Reading 2020: Philosophy Books

recommended by Nigel Warburton

A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

A Little History of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton

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From reflections on travel and searching for a personal philosophy to live by, to books on important aspects of democracy and contagious diseases, here's British philosopher Nigel Warburton's 2020 summer reading list. All the books you need to keep you thinking over the summer, whatever it may hold and wherever you may be.

A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton

A Little History of Philosophy
by Nigel Warburton

Read
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Obviously this summer is going to be a bit different from others. You’ll still want some summer reading though…here are my five top philosophy selections. I’ve chosen  books that I think are stimulating, enjoyable, and relevant.

 

The Meaning of Travel by Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas’s original and fun book The Meaning of Travel is my top pick in a year when travel is going to be difficult. One of the joys of the book is she’s found so many great quotations from philosophers on the topic.

 

 

 

 

Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan.

If you want to understand what’s lurking behind the cruelty we’re seeing in the US political arena, try Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed by Lisa Duggan. This short, very readable book makes the link between the novelist/philosopher’s rather nasty attacks on concern for others and right-wing America’s contemporary greed and disdain towards the poor and those in need.

 

 

How to Live a Good Life edited by Skye Cleary, Daniel Kaufman and Massimo Pigliucci

An antidote to Rand’s is How to Live a Good Life, which is a collection of fifteen essays about practical moral philosophy from Buddhism to humanism, taking in Stoicism, Christian ethics, Pragmatism, Existentialism and other schools along the way.

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Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World by Timothy Garton Ash

First published in 2016, but getting more relevant every day, Timothy Garton Ash’s Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World is the best book I’ve read on the topic by far, written with great elegance, and filled with fascinating examples. If you want to know why Trump’s attacks on the press are so damaging to democracy, or think more clearly about tensions between freedom of speech and national security, this is the place to begin.

 

The Plague (La Peste) by Albert Camus

Finally, it may seem a cliché to pick this book, but Albert Camus’s The Plague has justifiably become a bestseller this year. Camus is startlingly perceptive about the psychology of those in lockdown, and the ways in which different people cope with the fear of contagion. Previously most of us were told to read this novel as an oblique commentary on the Nazi occupation of Europe. Now we can appreciate it at a literal level too.

Editor’s note: If you’ve enjoyed our 2020 philosophy summer reading list and are looking for similar recommendations, here is Nigel’s 2019 summer reading list

 

 

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Nigel Warburton

Nigel Warburton is a freelance philosopher, writer and podcaster, and our philosophy editor here at Five Books. He is best known for his introductory philosophy books and for his podcast series Philosophy Bites. Featuring short interviews with the world's best philosophers on bite-size topics, the podcast has been downloaded more than 40 million times to date. You can read all the interviews he's done with other experts here. (Not all are about philosophy).

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Nigel Warburton

Nigel Warburton is a freelance philosopher, writer and podcaster, and our philosophy editor here at Five Books. He is best known for his introductory philosophy books and for his podcast series Philosophy Bites. Featuring short interviews with the world's best philosophers on bite-size topics, the podcast has been downloaded more than 40 million times to date. You can read all the interviews he's done with other experts here. (Not all are about philosophy).