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Books From Humanities, Or, Reading for School Isn’t Always Boring


Cover of "The Odyssey"

Cover of The Odyssey

So I’m not even going to comment on how many months it has been since my last blog post, because the number is just shameful and wrong and horrible to look at. BUT I am back now and (hopefully) better than ever!

Since I’m a senior in high school right now, just forcing myself to physically go to school is hard enough, but actually enjoying it is nearly impossible. Having said that, there are a few bright spots amid the constant sea of pointless busy-work and annoying underclassmen, and one of those is my Humanities class. This class, man, let me tell you, this class is awesome. Like seriously, all we do is read these ancient and wonderful and complex texts and then we get to class and just discuss them for two hours. And we drink tea while we’re doing it. Has there ever been a more perfect class? I think not. So in honor of this lovely class that is helping me slog through the (seemingly endless) weeks until June, here is a list of some of the ancient and wonderful and complex texts that we have read so far:

• It took me a while to really get into The Odyssey by Homer, but when I did, I realized that this book is such a classic because it is simply brilliant. The plotting is so complex and intriguing, the characters are vibrant and surprisingly relatable, the language is incredibly beautiful and deeply moving. If you’re willing to stick with it for the long haul (and through those slightly dull stretches where Odysseus is living with the Phaeacians) you will be rewarded in spades.

• Dialogues of Plato is absolutely fascinating. My favorite dialogue was The Republic (though I feel like it’s kind of unoriginal to say that) because it presents such an interesting view of Plato’s utopian society. Who wouldn’t want a philosopher king to run their city?

• The Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus has such a dark and sinister beauty, you can just feel the complex net of family, fate, murder, deception, and betrayal that entraps the House of Atreus. Mmm, so good.

• Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I love this book so much. I love the fact that Marcus Aurelius was such a powerful leader, but he speaks with such humility and ease. I love the advice in this book is as applicable to my life as a 21st century teenager as it was to that of a roman emperor. I love that it is practical and simply written and scattered and imperfect. It’s like the most sincerely beautiful self-help book imaginable.

The Dhammapada. Oh my goodness gracious, talk about love. This book is amazing. AMAZING. Its language is so precise, its imagery so evocative and beautiful. I absolutely loved learning about Buddhism in class, and this book was a big part of that.

• The Bhagavad Gita. This book is so gorgeous and thought-provoking. As I was reading it, I kept marking every beautiful image and idea that I liked, and at the end, nearly every page was marked. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Ahh talking about these books makes me want to read them all again, they are so brilliant and gorgeous.

More later!

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