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  • Christine Angelica

4 books to introduce you to philosophy

Four book recommendations:

1. The Conquest of Happiness  Written by the great Bertrand Russell, let me hit you with a couple of quotes from it: “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” I got chills reading that.

"If we were all given by magic the power to read each other’s thoughts, I suppose the first effect would be almost all friendships would be dissolved; the second effect, however, might be excellent, for a world without any friends would be felt to be intolerable, and we should learn to like each other without needing a veil of illusion to conceal from ourselves that we did not think each other absolutely perfect.” OMG, this dude is giving me mental highs!!! Philosophy helped me understand the true essence of happiness. That people were central to it and that it's found in the little things. And then, philosophy helped me to understand that it is Joy that I should be working to cultivate because even happiness is something we can't control.

2. The Consolations of Philosophy After watching his TedTalk, I became a fan of Alain de Botton. He's a great storyteller who makes philosophy accessible. He's also the founder of the School of Life. You may enjoy The Consolations of Philosophy if you like this quote:

“Not everything which happens to us occurs with reference to something about us.” Here's why I liked this book. I've always had difficulty accepting many New Age adages, especially these two: "Everything happens for a reason" and "You're attracting what you get in life." I mean, there's truth to both ideas but they've also become burdensome cliches too. Philosophy can help us to examine popular opinions such as these, more critically.

3. The Art of Loving

This work by Erich Fromm is a classic. The topic of love gets a lot of airplay—in movies, in love songs, in discussions about divorce, and explorations of alternative lifestyles, like open relationships. Even the bible has a lot to say on the topic of love. Me? I go with philosophy on this one too and this quote goes to the essence of what Fromm covers in The Art of Loving.
“Love isn't something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn't a feeling, it is a practice.”4. The Unbearable Lightness of Being  -   Philosophy makes you think and sometimes, it gives us answers to questions we never voiced or knew we had. It helps us understand ourselves, so that for example, if right now you're hating where you live and have a strong desire to move, this quote from Milan Kundera's work (another classic!), The Unbearable Lightness of Being can make you think.
“A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.” More than anything or anyone else—parents, family, friends, therapy, college—philosophy has had the most profound effects on who I've become. It has helped me understand myself better. I owe my love of quotes to reading philosophy and can trace this love back to when I was nine years old. It may never become as significant for you, but try one of the books here and you just may be surprised to find that the subject is actually quite useful.

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