David Von Drehle recommends 6 wise reads for deep thinkers

The veteran journalist suggests works by Dr. Seuss, Viktor Frankl, and more

David Von Drehle.
(Image credit: Courtesy Image)

Veteran journalist David Von Drehle is a Washington Post columnist and author of "The Book of Charlie," a best-seller about the life wisdom he learned from a 109-year-old neighbor. Below, Von Drehle recommends books that help him "think like Charlie."

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Enchiridion by Epictetus (circa 125)

Mastering this short philosophy book is the work of a lifetime. Epictetus, the diamond cutter of Stoic philosophers, teaches that happiness depends on two radical assertions of freedom: total accountability for my choices, values, and actions, and letting go of concern about everything else. Buy it here.

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Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (1946)

The great stoic of the Holocaust asked how some of his fellow prisoners in the Nazi death camps retained their humanity under inhuman conditions, and he concluded that they embraced "the last of the human freedoms: to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way" of behaving. Buy it here.

Emerson: The Mind on Fire by Robert D. Richardson Jr. (1995)

This biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson is loaded with insights on life. Dig this: "Anything that has ever been possible to human beings is possible to most of us every time the clock says six in the morning. On a day no different from the one now breaking, Shakespeare sat down to begin Hamlet." Buy it here.

A Collection of Essays by George Orwell (1953)

Once a year, I reread Orwell's famous 1946 essay Politics and the English Language to remind myself what I am trying to do with my work. And what I am trying to avoid. "Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable," Orwell wrote. I also read some of the other essays — take your pick — to remind myself what it sounds like when one gets it right. Buy it here.

Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard (1977)

This is a strange, wild little book that challenges a reader to engage completely — if only for a few pages — with the fierce miracle of life on Earth and the power of whatever it is that made this sublime, gorgeous, sometimes dangerous world. Buy it here.

Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss (1954)

Dr. Seuss' resolute and gentle elephant was the first moral teacher I found in a book and chose to follow, and he remains a favorite. Nothing could dissuade Horton from his commitment to equality and justice. "A person's a person," he said, "no matter how small." Buy it here.

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