“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” – Sir Isaac Newton
The invention of the printing press—and thereby the huge increase in books—was for the 1400s what the internet is for us today. The ability for books to disseminate information (and have for reference) is incredible.
While I also read for pleasure, I think the primary purpose of books is to be those immortal giants, so that following generations may learn more, faster, better.
For that reason, I answer this nearly impossible question with Will Durant’s The Greatest Minds And Ideas Of All Time.
Not only is Will Durant a giant himself, he’s one in the arena of history. Therefore, he knows a thing or two about others that we can learn a lot from.
From thinkers to poets, dates to peaks in human progress, he highlights his professional view of the greats. We should all be so fortunate as to learn from them.
The only drawback to my choice—and I’ll admit, it potentially makes this the WORST CHOICE POSSIBLE—is that he also lists one hundred best books for education. With knowledge of these books but no access to them, would a person go insane?
I love your hypothetical question, so thank you for that, and I tried my best to answer it in earnest. But now I will say this would be a sad, sad life indeed. Read as many books as you can, learn from those before you, and see further in whatever arena you’re passionate about.
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Read, implement, repeat, enjoy =)