Books to Consider Reading-Part One

When I taught estate and gift tax at the University of New Orleans in the accounting department many years ago, I wanted to balance that dry topic with something that would round out the students’ lives and have value past mere knowledge of estate and gift tax because I think that being well-rounded is key to success in life.

To that end, I put together a supplemental reading list of books for my students to consider reading at some point in their lives. The students no doubt thought that I was nuts to have them consider reading anything on which I wouldn’t test them! I chose books for my list based upon what each of those books meant to me; I’ve read every book on the list, a few several times.

This list was not intended to be political in any way (despite my strong political views, I purposely kept those views out of the classroom-I wanted students to see both sides of a debate and to develop their own views-it wasn’t my role to inculcate them in my views but, rather, to assist them to develop their own); it was intended to be a list of books that I found to be valuable to me personally.

I recently came across this list, so I thought that I’d share some of the list with you. I’ve included a quote or two from each book, so I’m breaking this list into several blog entries. Let us begin:

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations (A.S.L. Farquharson translation)(Knopf 1946, originally written between 161 and 180 A.D.), ISBN 0-679-41271-9.

This book is one of my favorites and this particular quote my favorite; I so admire his desire to be a true philosopher-king. Marcus Aurelius was emperor of the Roman Empire in the second century AD, yet his true goal was only to be a good man and to avoid the depraved and debaucherous lives that many of the Roman emperors lived. In my opinion, Marcus Aurelius came as close to the philosopher-king ideal as anyone ever has or maybe ever will. I’m so glad that his deputies disregarded his instruction to destroy this book after his death, which he wrote to himself, never intending it to be for public consumption! The world would have been denied some invaluable wisdom had they followed his orders.

“The future is where our greatest leverage is.” Joel Arthur Barker, Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future (HarperCollins 1992), ISBN 0-88730-647-0.

I found this book to be very insightful on the importance of gazing out into the future for wisdom. I’ve always been mesmerized by reading about future trends because I like to know where things are heading.

“To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living…Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning…Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a rare but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back.” Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie (Doubleday 1997), ISBN 0-385-48451-8.

I absolutely love this book. I actually can’t get through the quote about teachers above without tearing up in remembrance of my two favorite teachers: Margaret Distefano from St. Frances Cabrini and Professor James D. Hardy, Jr. of LSU. That’s how I feel about both of those people. I was able to be friends with both of them long after my days as their student; I indeed found my way back and was glad that I did.

“Here’s my Credo: ALL I NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned: Share everything…Play fair…Don’t hit people…Put things back where you found them…Clean up your own mess…Don’t take things that aren’t yours…Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody…Wash your hands before you eat…Flush…Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you…Live a balanced life — learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some…Take a nap every afternoon…When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together…Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that…Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup — they all die. So do we….And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned — the biggest word of all — LOOK. Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten (Villard Books 1989), ISBN 0-394-57102-9.

This book is elegant in its simplicity about how adults should act. I take the nap part very seriously!

More will follow soon!

About lpaulhoodjr

I am an inactive lawyer who practiced almost 20 years as a tax and estate planning lawyer. Today, I am a speaker, author and consultant on tax and estate planning. In the recent past, I was the Director of Planned Giving for The University of Toledo Foundation. I am the co-author of six books, the sole author of another book and a frequent speaker and writer on estate planning, planned giving and business valuation.
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