The following list is designed to give High School seniors a good foundation and “starter” reference library from which to draw on throughout their college years. The books in this list are not ranked in priority order – but rather cover four major areas: History/Government, Psychology/Sociology, Economics/Finance, and important biographies. These will all be important to understand and will have a tremendous impact on thinking. These books will form a great starter library for success and significance that will inevitably come for those who, as Einstein said, are “constantly curious.”¹
And as you review this list, ask yourself, “What would happen if every high school senior was required to read each book on this list before they could graduate? How would it change them – and our nation?”
1. The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World, by W. Cleon Skousen
Learn the 28 Principles of Freedom the Founders said must be understood and perpetuated by every people who desire peace, prosperity, and freedom. Learn how adherence to these beliefs during the past 200+ years has brought about more progress than was made in the previous 5000 years.
2. The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own, by Jackie Gingrich Cushman
This is the handbook for every citizen patriot. It features the fundamental documents of our nation’s history – both well-known and some lesser-known, including: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Daniel Webster’s Plymouth Oration, Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, Douglas MacArthur’s Duty, Honor, Country speech, Ronald Reagan’s Speech at the Brandenburg Gate, plus American Presidents (and their presidential parties), all 50 states (with their capitals and year of admittance to the Union), etc.
3. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel H. Pink
In spite of the left-brain technological society we have developed in the last three decades, the future belongs to the master storytellers, and creative and holistic "right-brain" thinkers. Drawing on research from around the world, Pink outlines six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment--and reveals how to master them. He presents a provocative and necessary new way of thinking about the future. It is an extraordinarily helpful book to aid High School students in selecting their path in terms of college major and career.
4. Acres of Diamonds, by Russell H. Conwell
This small book will challenge you to seek opportunities to find true wealth right in your own backyard without getting sidetracked by selfishness and greed. The same principles that transformed Russell Conwell into one of the most charitable millionaires during his time, will also revolutionize your life as you read this timeless message contained in this book.
5. The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason
This is a timeless classic which is hailed as the greatest of all works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth. In language as simple as that found in the Bible, these fascinating and informative stories set you on a sure path to prosperity and its accompanying joys.
6. How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes, by Peter D. Schiff
This 2014 book uses illustration, humor, and accessible storytelling to explain complex topics of economic growth and monetary systems. Its "take no prisoners" logic exposes the glaring fallacies that have become so ingrained in our country's economic conversation. With wit and humor, the roots of economic growth, the uses of capital, the destructive nature of consumer credit, the source of inflation, the importance of trade, savings, and risk, and many other topical principles of economics are clearly explained. The tales told here may appear simple of the surface, but they will leave the reader with great understanding.
7. Socrates: A Man of Our Time, by Paul Johnson
In his classic style, historian Paul Johnson masterfully offers a riveting account of Socrates, who is often hailed as the most important thinker of all time. Johnson captures the vast and intriguing life of a man who did nothing less than supply the basic apparatus of the human mind and the famous questioning and critical thinking process designed to arrive at truth - the Socratic Method.
8. Napoleon: A Life, by Paul Johnson
Many are surprised when they learn that no other human being in history has had more books written about him than Napoleon Bonaparte. Johnson offers a vivid look at the life of the strategist, general, and dictator who conquered much of Europe. He examines the origins of his ferocious ambition and most importantly, he connects Bonaparte’s violent legacy to the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.
9. Then Darkness Fled, by Stephen Mansfield
A young boy slave during the Civil War, Booker T. Washington is being rediscovered by Americans today as Mansfield offers a compelling look at the man and the qualities of leadership he embodied in his life and work. As he describes his amazing pursuit of education and his dedication to learning which led to the founding of the famous Tuskegee Institute – the author presents a timeless message of hope, empowerment, and responsibility, which Washington himself characterized as “the training of head, heart, and hand."
10. How do You Kill 11 Million People?: Why the Truth Matters More Than You Know, by Andy Andrews
Good answers come only from asking the right questions. Through the powerful, provocative question, "How do you kill eleven million people?"- the number of people killed by the Nazi German regime between 1933 and 1945 - Andrews explores a number of other questions relevant to our lives today and issues a wake-up call to become informed, passionate citizens who demand honesty and integrity from our leaders, or suffer the consequences of our own ignorance and apathy.
EXTRA CREDIT: The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication, by Margaret Shepherd
Everyone recognizes the importance of a note that comes in a unique envelope with distinct handwriting and possibly a decoration or two. In an age when even birthday greetings are sent by e-mail, the personal letter is appreciated more than ever before. Acclaimed calligrapher Shepherd has created an excellent guide to express any sentiment – whether it be love, gratitude, condolences, or congratulations. This book gives thorough instruction in the specific details that give so many men and women the jitters when it comes to correspondence that can’t (or shouldn’t) be produced on a keyboard. This is an indispensable guide to conveying thoughts in an enduring–and noteworthy–way. And if you can learn this valuable differentiating habit at an early age – your future success in any endeavor is assured.
¹All book descriptions have been quoted or adapted from Amazon.com.
"Opportunities never come a second time, nor do they wait for our leisure."
-Booker T. Washington