Jeffrey L. Seglin teaches at Emerson College in Boston and is the author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit, and Personal Responsibility in Today’s Business (Spiro, $18), a collection of the monthly business-ethics columns he’s written for The New York Times since 1998.
Night by Elie Wiesel (Bantam, $6). I was about the age of the teenage narrator when I first read Night. He witnessed the ravages of the Holocaust that claimed his family and left him to grapple with guilt and spiritual doubt. I still marvel over the beauty of the storytelling.
Candide by François Marie Arouet de Voltaire (Oxford University Press, $17). Whenever all seems lost, I pick up this 1759 tale of eternally optimistic yet misfortune-prone Candide’s efforts to reunite with his true love. His ability to persevere in the face of mind-numbing self-delusion is awesome.
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Lying by Sissela Bok (Vintage, $14). It’s not the lies we’d all agree are “unconscionable” that we need to look at, but “those cases where many see good reasons to lie.” After all, if trust is what’s at the foundation of human relations, Bok writes, then “when this trust shatters or wears away, institutions collapse.”
100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda (University of Texas Press, $12). I turned to this collection for a reading at my mother’s funeral and again at the marriage of my son. “If I die, survive me with such a pure force you make the pallor and the coldness rage,” one poem begins. Neruda paints emotion that takes my breath away.
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (HarperCollins, $6). My first read of this book about a little boy who uses a purple crayon to create an adventurous world was when I was 5 years old. It hooked me on the power of imagination. Now I can share Harold with my grandsons, Evan and Luke.
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