For fiction, I don’t restrict myself by genre but lean towards horror, thrillers, science fiction, and historical fiction. Peter Straub would be my favorite author if I had to name one. His horror novels are genuinely unnerving, and his mysteries are some of the best thrillers I’ve read, dealing with murders and secrets and how crimes of the past affect the present.
Mostly I read nonfiction—history, philosophy, religion, science, or anything that catches my eye. I especially enjoy books that challenge well-established ideas.
In the list below, for example, Sam Harris’s book suggests that free will is an illusion, even though it’s something we all experience and take for granted. Ivan Eland ranks the U.S. presidents based on their adherence to constitutional principles, rather than their management style and popular appeal. Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman argue that college campuses must support liberal diversity without restricting the free expression of ideas in the process, and unfortunately the greatest threats to free speech come from the left (as a leftist myself I agree).”
John Meier, a conservative Catholic, believes that of the 32 parables attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, only four are historically reliable. Dale Allison writes about death and the fascinating ways we cope with the idea of our mortality. Dario Fernandez-Morera refutes the myth of a multicultural paradise in medieval Spain, and shows how Islamic rule was oppressive. Richard White presents research showing that the Scottish baron Henry Sinclair sailed to Massachusetts Bay in 1398. He also wrote a novel about Sinclair (Sword of the North), which I include in my fiction picks.