Ex-roomie Greg Newburn passes me the talking-stick on the question: “What 5 books are you vaguely embarassed to admit you haven’t read?” over at the new group blog Liberteaser. Off the top of my head:
- Law’s Empire by Ronald Dworkin: This one’s not so embarassing in itself, except that in the circles I move in, I end up arguing law with various flavors of originalist. And since I’m out of sympathy with that approach, I get asked what jurisprudential philosophy I do like. I’ll sometimes say I’m a Dworkinian. Except I haven’t actually read Dworkin, beyond a few of the essays in Taking Rights Seriously: My exposure to (what was presented as) his theory of jurisprudence comes almost entirely from a couple constitutional law classes I took with Peter Rajsingh at NYU, where I remember thinking “yeah, something like that sounds about right.” Probably not quite good enough.
- About a third of A Theory of Justice by John Rawls: I’ve read most of this in dribs and drabs over the years. But I’ve never managed to make it all the way through, beginning-to-end, in one go. I think what’s kept me from it is partly that I’ve gotten the gist of the bits I haven’t read from secondary literature, partly just that it’s quite dense and requires close, diligent reading. But that’s a pretty poor excuse; I should just bite the bullet and read the rest of it. Especially now that I’ve posted this and Will can be counted upon to mock me until I do.
- Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: I don’t actually feel any particular desire to read this one, and at this stage I probably won’t, but it does feel like I’m the one human being on earth who didn’t get assigned this in high school.
- The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow: Both Chris Hitchens and Martin Amis have fawned on this one at length, and I was super impressed with the first 20 pages or so, which I finally dipped into after Bellow died last month. I actually haven’t read anything by Bellow, so I feel like I really ought to get on this one.
- Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein: Like the Rawls, I’ve read bits of this one, and feel like it’s one of those books that, as the wags say, “I’ve read, but not by myself.” I know the gist of it from the secondary literature, but have never gone all the way through with a close reading. Though, given Wittgenstein’s famously cryptic style, I wonder whether maybe I shouldn’t just stick with the account in the secondary literature.