My Reading List

One reason I gave myself a limited time for this quest is that the topic of goodness is ridiculously large. If I did nothing more than read the literature of morality, goodness, good vs. evil and/or ethics in philosophy, religion, theology, psychology, or even in business, medicine, journalism, law or any other pursuit, well, the top of my head would blow off.

I can’t read everything, but I do want to read as much as I can. So, I need your help. What should I read? I’m looking for the names of books, popular articles, essays and scientific publications. As I start this quest, my reading list is woefully tiny. I’m only beginning to dig up possible texts, and I seem to have dead-ended on texts about the error-prone nature of human beings, which may say more about me than about my quest.

Right now, I’m reading Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.

Other materials on my reading list are:


Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science, forthcoming in the fall, by Sissela Bok (I’m particularly interested in her discussion of how what makes us happy, or at least, some people happy, isn’t necessarily good. For example, slave holders were happy.)

The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being by Derek Bok (might or might not be useful, but looks interesting)

Drive by Daniel Pink. (My quest is to not only find goodness, but to learn how we can become good. This book on motivation was suggested by a friend and looks like it could be helpful.)

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (The same friend that suggested Drive, also said I should read Flow. It seems far off topic, but perhaps not. I suspect that any kind of psychological insight can help me understand goodness.)

How We Know What Isn’t So by Thomas Gilovich

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley.

Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Tell us about Contentment by Phil Zuckerman


“Objectivity in the Eye of the Beholder: Divergent Perceptions of Bias in Self Versus Other” by Princeton psychologist Emily Pronin and colleagues.


That’s all I’ve got on my list right now. As I said before, this is completely inadequate, so give me some help. I obviously need texts that directly discuss ethics, morality, goodness, theology, philosophy, even good vs. evil. Suggestions about either nonfiction or fiction are welcome. I’ll be happy to look at sacred texts. What do you think I should read?

Many thanks!

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2 Responses to My Reading List

  1. Catherine VanHollebeke says:

    The book that has had the greatest impact on my thinking, coping, and loving has been “A Course in Miracles”. Twice I attempted to begin the book, but couldn’t make head nor tail of its content. As the saying goes, the third time is a charm. I can only guess previously I wasn’t ready for the book, and, the book knew it. One of my favorite passages that I repeat at least daily is, “Forgive the past and let it go, for it is gone.” Marianne Williamson has written extensively on the book. Anything she has written is well worth the read. She is one of my greatest teachers. You probably have already read this and know more about Marianne than I do, but I try and promote this book, and one of its great teachers anytime an opportunity presents itself. Cathy (Muliet) VanHollebeke

  2. dianesilver says:

    Cathy! It’s always great to hear from you. Actually, I haven’t read A Course in Miracles. How does the book relate to goodness?

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