The Most Influential Books to Lead You towards Liberty

Charles W Elliot once said that “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.”
It is hard to argue against that, books are the most patient and wisest teachers. We learn a lot deal of things through books, books are the building blocks of our ideas and though process. Books actually are the raw material provided to us by the precedent generations to use their experiences, knowledge and desire to explore better terrains of life. Books are not only the best friends; they are a challenge for us, a challenge to develop more, to beautify the ideas further, or to at least learn that, which already has been mentioned, searched, thought and quoted in the book.
Books give us a chance to look further, think forward, and create better and revolute the life to achieve new heights.
A book can change your life, giving you new dimensions to think forward and create your own ventures to relish and enjoy. A book let you live more than one life, it let you explore the territories of ideas you never had thought of.
Here, I will discussing some of the books that I consider most influential and mind boggling, that may change the ways you think, live and act in your life. These books are full of ethical knowledge and moral rightness; these books teach us to analyze the thin line between the “wrong” and the “right”.
No, I am not going to discuss some epic of some old religion. I do not want to discuss Vedas, Ramayana, or Geeta. I will not say that to be a true honest individual you need to read Quran or Bible. Rather, I am going to discuss some practical books with no affinity to mystique or irrationalism. It would be wrong to say that reading these books is essential. Reading any book cannot be essential for anyone. If all the books, all the knowledge that we use as raw material for our living, that never was discovered or created by us, but we got it all as our privilege to use and improve further, are destroyed some day, then also, human will not stop existing. They will not stop existing morally and rationally too. Rationality, or morality do not come through books, it ignites within your own. Until human does not stop using their mind to lead their life to better ways, books cannot be essential. Yet, books have their own importance. They act as the raw material to be used for making a better new world.
Therefore, here is my list of some of the greatest books I read since my childhood and found them most influential in shaping a world of my own and to letting me use my mind to create some or more. I am sure that anyone who will ever go through these books, will find him/herself more able to understand his/her own existence and will be able to understand the meaning of freedom, and life in a free society, free market.

The Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to Radical Capitalism: David Friedman

David Friedman, the freer son of Mr. Milton Friedman wrote this excellent work in 1973. Milton Friedman himself is known as one of the premier economist with Libertarian and anti-Keynesian approach. Yet, David Friedman is way apart from his father. One may feel that David Friedman learnt Economics not from his father, but from the Genius Ludwig Von Mises himself(UPDATE: Just to clarify, he did not). Machinery of Freedom contains a range 48 excellent essays that will not only entertain and provoke your mind to think rationally, but provide you a lot more to think and explore by your own. The essays are short and ranges from defence of property rights and private property to strictest modes of anarchocapitalism. He discusses the exploration of private law enforcement in a free society to great extent and provides a good look on the issue. You will certainly have a better understanding of a model of Free Society after reading the book. The wonderful thing is David Friedman seems to be hugely influenced by Ayn Rand. His assumption, that mostly people are rational and if someone is irrational, he will loose in the free society and the loss will be the teacher to achieve rational behaviour.

The Two Treaties of Government: John Locke

The founding father of classical liberalism or Libertarianism, John Locke still remains the most influential philosopher and thinker of all times. Although, his first treaty seems to be obsolete now, because the first treaty was the direct and vehement opposition to the irrational and obnoxious support of Robert Filmer to Monarchy who claimed that, men are naturally slaves and hence monarchy is the only justifiable government. The Second treaty of the book makes it a grand work. One can find the most systematic and logical defence of Individual Liberty in that book in such an inspiring way that will make you say that John Locke is way better than Aristotle.
The book was written in 1680, yet it is not obsolete. Even now, most of the governments throughout the world keep harassing individual liberty on the name of democracy. The book makes one learn the true nature of proper Miniarchy.

Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand

One can find no better book on Individual Liberty, Rationality and clarity of conscious other than this great Magnum Opus of Ayn Rand. Fountainhead lays the foundation of libertarianism and Atlas Shrugged stands on it as the basic structure of Free Society. The book is still one of the largest selling books throughout the world even after 53 years of its publication. The book is timeless, it will never die, it will never loose its shine and ability to make minds sharper, better, proper and rational. The book clarifies most of the dilemmas of a common reader living in a world where totalitarian governments are harping on controlling the masses, where the individual is faceless and individuality is curse. Atlas Shrugged shows you who is exploiter and who is being exploited and leaves you to decide whether you want to be the exploiter, or will you accept being exploited. The book prompts you to strike against the exploiters. The book fills you up with the energy and idea of liberty for your own self. Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are the best books one can ever read. Ohh by the way, have a reality check, feminists cannot accept these books. Ayn Rand has mocked feminism, just like all other form of collectivism, and being a woman, I am grateful to her for doing that.

Economics in One Lesson: Henry Hazlitt

Nothing can be better than this marvel by Henry Hazlitt, the American Philosopher and economist. The book has the potential to make you learn the actual economics of practical life and practical world in most easy way. The book makes you love economics. Hazlitt, through his immense simplicity explains how Free Market promotes efficiency and how government interference in market ruins the system and creates chaos. Time will Run Back and Economics in One Lesson are the two books that will not only answer all your questions regarding inflation, price control, minimum wages, unions and every other thing that influence your daily life, but will also provide you an assurance that the things can be better. The book leads you to start thinking and striving for Liberty to make world better.

Human Action: Ludwig Von Mises

Ludwig Von Mises is undisputable founding father of Austrian Economics. He along with Ayn Rand is the founding father of modern libertarian approach too. Human Action is the book that will clarify all the illusions about the stories of communism, socialism and collective welfarism. His explanation of Industrial revolution and 2nd world war and the economic effects of the situation are revolutionary. There are many who keep giving excuses for Capitalism and Individual Freedom, the frontier fighter for the sake of Individual Liberty and Human moral rights was Ludwig Von Mises.
He was undoubtedly the best philosopher of 20th century along with Ayn Rand.
In Human Action, he introduces Praxeology as the major foundation of social sciences and economic laws. He further ascertains that economic laws can only be arrived at by means of methodological individualism. He was vehement opponent of positivism, or materialism as a foundation of social sciences and morality. He was one of the truest Individualist, Rationalist and Objectivist. The major theme of all his books is inflation and monetary economics and the rational comparison between Free Society and Government controlled society. Once he said

Efforts to realize Socialism lead only to the destruction of society. Factories, mines, and railways will come to a standstill.

The failure of USSR makes him the sage who knew the future. His work on theoretical Business Cycles explains all the causes of repeatable Depressions.

The Wealth of Nations: Adam Smith

Everybody knows a little or more about this famous book by Adam Smith. He was the first to explain the importance of social distribution. His example of story of pin-making is used every now and then. People write a lot about the “Invisible Hand” and murk up the essence of the book. The book clearly states that government is redundant and it should let the market free.

The Animal Farm: George Orwell

George Orwell was one of the best Dystopian. His book 1984 is world famous along with Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World“. One can easily see how both of these writers used and criticized the Pavlovian learning and conditioning, and how they showed the world that the way it is going through will lead to certain destruction. Orwell used to say that 1984 was written to change the view of the people about the society they should try to create. The book is a masterpiece undoubtedly, but The Animal Farm is much better book on my scale. The Animal Farm is direct attack on the egalitarianism and collectivism. The Animal Farm, along with 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World” should be read to understand why government is evil, and why people should not sacrifice individualism for the illusionist welfarism.

The Law: Bastiat

Frederick Bastiat was one of the most prominent economists of 19th century who proposed and supported Laissez-Faire system and Individualism strongly. Amongst his all great works, The Law is one of the best. The book suggests the proper nature of Law and the role of legal bodies in a Free Society. The book was published in 1849, the same year when Frederick Bastiat passed away. The book suggest that the proper role of the law is the protection of Individual right, Liberty, defence of life and property. Bastiat and John Locke are the founding teachers of Property rights and Individualism; they are major inspiration behind all forms of Libertarianism.

Free to Choose: Milton Friedman

We started the list with the book of David Freidman on radical libertarianism; we will end with a book by his Father Milton Friedman. The Nobel Laureate, prominent libertarian and opponent of Keynesian economics discusses the Government sponsored education in this book along with many other issues. With his easy logic, he explains how and why big governments are a curse, a big problem. Obviously, he accepts that small governments are smaller “problem”. He shows that government-sponsored education is not improving and they cannot improve. The book is a classical approach for the defence of human freedom against the state.

There are many other books that excellently explain individual liberty and the reason to defend it; I might have missed a few of them. The mentioned above are those that I consider the best ones at the moment.

6 comments for “The Most Influential Books to Lead You towards Liberty

  1. May 20, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I’m glad you liked my book, but your guesses as to my influences are mistaken. I’ve read very little Mises, and although I admire Rand as a courageous, intelligent and original writer, I am unconvinced by her underlying philosophical arguments. For some of the reasons, see:

    Rationality has been a part of economics since long before Rand, and the sources of my economic views, aside from my own thinking, are mostly economists in the classical and neo-classical tradition.

  2. Keith
    May 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    The Machinery of Freedom is the only one of those I have not read. :)

    While Atlas Shrugged is a classic, I often hear and sympathize that it could have been just as great much shorter. For those that would like to understand her better but not as wanting to commit to reading so much, I highly recommend “Anthem”.

    Wealth of Nations: I would agree that is is so often misunderstood that for anyone that cares about reality should read the book the left so often likes to deride. However, I think “Human Action” is a superior substitute for the science part, and “Austrian Perspective of Economic Thought” for the history.

    For anyone that loved “Economics in One Lesson”, I would highly recommend “Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey” by Kevin Schooland. This book has more of a fairly tale format that strikes at the heart of Austrian thinking with the simplicity and clarity of Aesop’s Fables.

    And for anyone filled with passion by Bastiat, but sad that there is nothing left to read, Murry Rothbard can bring that feeling back again. “Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature” and “Anatomy of the State” bring timeless radical perspective on ideology and government.

    Thanks for putting together this great list and overview. I know what I need to add to my reading list :)

  3. May 21, 2010 at 7:34 am

    brilliant Dear .. thanks for sharing this …

  4. Bala
    May 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    To David Friedman,

    I had sent you a mail quite some time back refuting at least 1 of your counter-arguments. I still do not know why you haven’t responded (I had to dig out your e-mail id since it was not on the post you have linked up to and sent it to the one I thought was closest). Just repeating it briefly here.

    Your examples (which aim to show that Ayn Rand was wrong) of the male mantis and females of the animal kingdom have a fundamental and deep flaw in them. Taking the example of the male mantis, aren’t you being a shade too anthropomorphic in assuming that the male mantis is getting into the act of mating with the full knowledge that it is going to be eaten by the female? At the very least, are you not guilty of attributing a phenomenally high level of concept-forming abilities to the male mantis, insect that it is without a brain (only a ganglion as I understand it)?

    And are you saying that cows, tigresses, vixens and other females of different animal species are capable of forming concepts of the ‘long-range’, thus recognise that getting pregnant adversely affects their long-range survival chances and still get pregnant? Are we talking of animals or human beings? You have me thoroughly confused.

    In sum, your arguments appear completely meaningless. Still, it would be appreciated if you could respond.

  5. September 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    For me “Common Sense Economics” and “In defence of Global Capitalism” are the books that made me a libertarian!

  6. Rider I
    March 15, 2011 at 2:43 am

    FA Hayek,

    The Road to Serfdom

    you should add that

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