Seven Books Everyone Needs

Recommendations for beginning a personal library including a Bible, a dictionary, a national history, a world history, a cookbook, an English grammar, and a poetry book.

Everyone needs a few books. They are useful for information and personal knowledge. You may not know everything in them, but they are there when you need them.

The first book I recommend to begin a library is the Bible. Even if you are not a member of a church, the Bible is so common in literature and society that having it as a reference is valuable. Many references to the Bible and its characters have symbolic meanings that bear research. There are a multitude of translations available.

A good dictionary is the second most valuable book you will own. We often use words in ways contrary to their actual meaning. It is important to be able to check the meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases in documents and legal matters. It is important to spell correctly, and the dictionary is the standard. Webster’s New World College Dictionary is the one I am currently using. It includes many words that have recently come into use.

A book that outlines the general history of the your native ocuntry is a useful reference. Politicians refer to a former president or prime minister assuming that their audience will understand the significance of the statement, but if you don’t, it’s nice to have a resource.

A similar world history book is also useful for the same purpose. United States history occupies a very short period in the history of civilization, so it seems prudent to have access to a wider knowledge base than two or three hundred years.  It is helpful to know what was going on the rest of the world when your country was involved in major events.

A cookbook is only important if you want to eat, but I highly recommend it. Most cookbooks contain more than merely recipes. Some have descriptions of cooking vessels, utensils, and preparation methods. Some have conversion tables that define amounts such as how many tablespoons in a cup or how many ounces in a liter. Check the table of contents and index before you buy to make sure it has information you want to know.

A book of basic grammar rules and conventions is very handy in case you have forgotten your high school English or if you speak English as a second language. I recommend The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr, and E. B. White. There are others that are larger and more comprehensive, but none is easier to read or remember.

I recommend at least one book of poetry. Poetry inspires the mind and elevates the thoughts beyond the mundane level of daily living. There are many poets and books and collections. Everyone knows some tidbit of poetry to begin with or some author that would be fun to explore. In this case you can be the judge, but choose something that will draw you to a higher plane of thinking.

If you need help choosing between the many available titles and editions, bookstore personnel will be very helpful.  Enjoy the books!


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Daniel Snyder
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Val Mills
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Judith Barton
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