Top 10 Books from My List

Recently I was asked by one of my FB friends to name top 10 books that made an impact on me. However, I could not respond because I failed to follow certain rules set, one of them being that I was not supposed to take a long time recollecting the books and authors. It was supposed to be a spontaneous act. Now I decided to write a post on this because here is a column where I just don’t have to follow any rules. Rules may be there in this space also but I violate them with impunity. I really enjoy this freedom.

Let me get on with the topic of the post. I will restrict myself to those that made a deep impact on me.

I started reading books very late – perhaps only during my college days. This was partly due to non-availability of books back then in our village where I had my schooling. My uncle is a voracious reader of books and thanks to him I had access to his rich personal library. My first  few books were Aurobindo Ghosh’s Life Divine and Integral Yoga. Although I didn’t assimilate his abstract ideas on spirituality, that was my first exposure to Spirituality which continues to this day.

Books of Bertrand Russel impressed for the sheer power of his logic and sarcasm with which he hammers down his message.

George Orwell’s books – 1984 and Animal Farm always have a special place in my personal ranking of books. Richard Bach’s Seagull is yet another great book which proves that one need not fill hundreds of pages tirelessly to convey profound ideas.

Recent books on science (non-fiction) always fascinated me. Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Genes and ‘The Greatest Show on earth’ certainly rank among the best science books that I read. Both the books are powerful in presentation and novelty. ‘Selfish Genes’ presents a gene-centred perspective on evolution and gives a lucid explanations for our behavioral patterns like altruism. The second book is also on biological evolution and removes several misconceptions about evolution.

Simon Singh, a Physics professor from Cambridge University is a great story-teller. I read 2 of his books – Big Bang & Fermat’s last Theorem.  The first one is on astronomy which traces the theories on origins of the Universe from Copernicus up to the Modern day theories. It’s a book written for the laymen and the author brilliantly presents evolution of science of astronomy and narrates the stories of several passionate astronomers who sacrificed their lives in their frenzied pursuits in astronomy. The second book on Mathematics narrates great stories of Mathematicians who struggled for over 350 years to find the elusive proof for Fermat’s last theorem. Both the books are unique in presentation and story-telling.

Sam Harris’s books takes one into the exciting new world of neuroscience. Sam Harris is a philosopher and a neuroscientist from Stanford university. I have read his book ‘The Moral landscape’ where he presents how neuroscience can help solve several moral problems. Some of his findings border on spirituality, especially when he presents a neuroscientific basis to suggest that Free Will and Ego are illusions! Ego is an illusion created by Brain – nothing more, nothing less! I’m fascinated by this finding since it borders on what Vedanta has to say on Ego – the ideas of ‘Mithya’. I’m looking forward to read his latest book released in September titled – A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.

And what a book that was by Jared Diamond, a professor of Geography & Physiology at University of California at LA! His book, ”Guns,  Germs and Steel”, is a Must read for anyone interested in the History of Civilizations. It’s about why Eurasian civilizations including North American conquered others. With hard scientific facts and logic, the book forcefully debunks assumptions that Eurasians’ domination was due to their intellectual or genetic superiority.   It’s a book which traces the history of civilizations and explains how certain civilizations became advanced while some perished based on environmental conditions like weather pattern affecting food, which , in turn affected technology developments like steel, gun etc.

Among the books on spirituality, Yoga Vasishta by Venkatesananda had a great impact on me.

Now, I’m reading Upanishad texts along with lectures from my Guru Swamy Dayanada Saraswathi. I have completed Mundakopanishad which gives a stunning revealation of Truth of non-dual reality. It hits one hard as the Truth is unfolded forcefully using Veda as the ‘pramana'(means of knowledge). Undoubtedly, to quote a mantra from Chandogya Upanishad, “This is the Ultimate Knowledge knowing which everything else is considered as known”.

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Published in: on September 13, 2014 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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