Books to Expand Your Mind

Here are books that have challenged me to think in new ways. Many of them are old books (or at least older than me) because I find the difference in chronology and culture gets me thinking outside my usual 21st century American box.

The Divine Comedy by Dante (1310 or so)
For the past year my friend Lisa and I have been s l o w l y reading this epic poem of Dante’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. It’s not called the Divine Comedy for nothing: parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny. Other parts of it, I will confess, are a slog (thirteenth century Italian politics….yawn). BUT I am so crazy glad I persevered and read the whole thing. Dante’s vision of Heaven blew my mind. I am still reeling from the sheer majesty and beauty of it. I highly, highly recommend grabbing a friend and reading this book together; discussing it is half the fun! While it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s more than worth slogging through all the thirteenth century politics to get to the end. (Lisa and I liked the Robin Kirkpatrick translation. The language is vivid and often beautiful, and the copious notes are very, very helpful.)

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