What books does Balaji Viswanathan tell 16-20 year olds to read?

books to read

Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:

During teenage you want to open up your mind to the world.  Great books help in activating your different faculties. Instead of a conventional reading list, I'm putting these books in pairs to help you get multiple perspectives on the same idea. It is all about gaining perspectives, not about storing a large number of words.

  1. Fountainhead & Animal Farm: To provide you a fantastic perspective of how world chains achievers. (You might want to skip Atlas Shrugged & 1984 until you are past teens.)
  2. The Alchemist & Siddhartha: Paulo Coelho and Herman Hesse provide you  stunning stories that can be mesmerizing. It is all about following your heart. 
  3. 20,000 leagues under the sea & Around the world in 80 days: Both of these provide brilliant science fiction. Although many of the predictions are already a reality, Jules Verne is a must read for anyone with a curious mind.
  4. A Passage to India & To kill a mockingbird : A good way to understand the British Raj and racism. Mockingbird provides an amazing story about justice and indignation.
  5. War and Peace & Anna Karennina. If you are a strong reader, Tolstoy could be a great one. But, Russian novels can be quite hard on young teens if you are not used to the explosion of characters.
  6. Oliver Twist & David Copperfield: Most of Charles Dickens is good for this period. It helps you understand the time of the Industrial Revolution.
  7. Don Quixote & Gullivers Travels: Understand the medieval times and the birth of Renaissance with this queer story.
  8. Story of my experiments with Truth & Freedom at Midnight: Gandhi's autobiography is a fascinating read on the formation of one of the greatest men. Freedom provides a great insight into India's partition.
  9. Asterix & Tintin: If you think these are for kids, you need to read. Asterix can be read even if you are late 80s. Stunning perspective of 20th century Europe.
  10. Rich dad, Poor dad & Think and Grow rich: These two provide insights into entrepreneurship and managing your money.

Don't read all the good books at once. Periodically, read lesser quality popular books (such as those from Grisham, Crichton) help you appreciate classical works even better.

Remember that you are in no contest to read the max number of books. A book should be like a map that takes you on an adventure. The adventure happens in your mind and the book is merely a map/guide. The more you immerse in the adventure, the better the value you get.

What books does Balaji Viswanathan tell 16-20 year olds to read?


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