Steal these books!

oatsandsugar —  August 1, 2010 — 7 Comments

Some good books to use/read/refer to for all of your philosophy/fartsy/jurisprudence assignments; and to look like a smarty pants in class:

  • Sophie’s World: A novel about the history of philosophy by Joestein Gaarder.  This is an awesome book to use as reference when you just need a snippet of a philosophical idea.  It’s also a great novel to read, with a mindf*ck that makes the Matrix and Inception look simple.  Its readability and brevity also shove the basics of each school of thought into your head, and you’ll find that you recall theories presented in this novel easily in class discussions, making you look totally philosophically knowledgeable.  Also, this is one of my favorite books ever [UTS Library; Amazon].

Who are you? Where does the world come from?

  • Ideas: A history of thought and invention from fire to Freud by Peter Watson.  This is the premier reference book (in my opinion)/universal almanac to ideas and their development, including philosophy, religion, politics, sciences, etc. [State Library of NSWAmazon].
  • 50 Key Thinkers on History by Marnie Hughes-Warrington.  This was our textbook for History Extension in High School.  I haven’t read all of it, but the bits I have used (the chapters on deconstructivism, postmodernism and narrative history) are well written, easy to understand, full of good references and at a university level [UTS LibraryAmazon].
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka.  This novel is legal/jurisprudential genius.  It describes the reasoning behind the safeguards in our legal system by exploring a narrative trope whereby they don’t exist.  Only in their absence do you realise the importance of the legal rights (I don’t want to spoil the novel, so I won’t go in to too much detail) described in this novel.  Brilliant, a must read for law students.   [UTS LibraryAmazon].

I have to fight against countless subtleties in which the Court indulges. And in the end, out of nothing at all, an enormous fabric of guilt will be conjured up.

  • The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes.  This is a literary essay that discusses readings alternative to the reading intended by the owner, and how they are equally valid.  This is interesting to slip into conversations in class on interpretation of legislation/the role or flexibility of stare decisis. Also useful in constitutional law when comparing the American idea of the “living constitution” as embodying Barthe’s philosophy and the Australian tradition black-letter constitutional readings.  This essay is useful in creating a philosophical framework for interpretation essays/discussions [Online Journal: “Aspen”]

… the text is henceforth written and read so that in it, on every level, the Author absents himself …

  • The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain De Botton.  This is a cute little book (actually, a picture-book of sorts) that talks through some ideas on philosophy.  This very brief and cheap book was a pleasure to read and introduced me to some awesome philosophers and ideas [UTS Library; Amazon]
  • Essays by Montaigne.  These are lovely!  He was  true renaissance man who retired young, built himself a tower and locked himself in with his books, decorating the walls spiraling upwards with his favorite quotes.  He wrote about everything because he assumed he would have no audience.  His writings on the mundane are fascinating and at some times hilarious, but his writings on the deep and philosophical are moving [A small collection onlineAmazon].

Nature has very conveniently cast the action of our sight outwards.  We are swept on downstream, but to struggle back towards our self against the current is a painful movement; thus does the sea, when driven against itself, swirl back in confusion.  Everyone says: ‘look at the motions of the heavens, look at society, at this man’s quarrel, that man’s pulse, this other man’s will and testament’ — in other words always look upwards or downwards or sideways, or before or behind you.  Thus, the commandment given us in ancient times by the god at Delphi was contrary to all expectations: ‘look back into yourself; get to know your self; hold on to your self.’ … Except you alone, O Man, said that god, each creature first studies its own self, and, according to its needs, has limits to its labors and desires.  Not one is as empty and as needy as you, who embrace the universe: you are the seeker with no knowledge, the judge with no jurisdiction, and, when all is done, the jester of the farce.

If you want to borrow any of these books, just ask! if you recommend any books, hit me up in the comments and I’ll write something up about them.




LLM candidate at Cornell Tech. Consultant for King & Wood Mallesons and Project Evangelist for Legalese.

7 responses to Steal these books!


    “Alex’s Adventures in Numberland” – Just finished reading it though, I think I’ll be back for more. It’s one of those books that you have to read one and a half times (some books need two readings to soak it all up, but in this one you can mostly understand it all, but some of it you just need a reminder after you’ve finished).

    It’s all about the history of maths written at a high-school level. Interestingly describes the different inventions in maths. I found it intriguing that at high-school we learn all the maths the world had invented by the 17th century (if you did a high-level school maths) and that if you did maths at university you learn up until about the beginning of the 1900s. It’s a really good book for those people that understand that learning science can do more than teach you about scientific things but that it can teach you scientific thinking, which is far more valuable.


      My favorite maths book is “Mathematics from the Birth of Numbers” byJan Gullberg. It is a reference book rather than a history book, but breaks each topic down to the understandable roots. It literally talks about everything maths: brilliant.


      And on the scientific: you have to check out “Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman”; it shows both sides of one of the most important scientists of the last hundred years, the science side and the real-life, safe-cracking samba dancing side.
      I also love reading Sci-Am MIND, all about how the brain works, and always really inspiring

    Copacabana, they call her November 15, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Montaigne, please. Mutual book pillaging, soon? Exam cabin fever isolation is making me weird. Thank you for your various internet presences, both heartening and convenient reminders of external cool schtick. Accordingly, I have bestowed the high honour of one of my passwords being J’Y’O-derived. Now go crazy, identity thieving spambots.

    Copacabana, they call her November 28, 2010 at 11:13 PM

    Wonderful, welcome back to the world. We should have the book talk in oh say Ampersand cafe. Over vittles.

    Urgh. OK, so moving past the intolerable smugness of just using the word ‘vittles’, I am super curious to share/impose/gift you with my copy of Tree of Codes.

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