Summer reads for Philosophy students
If you’re an upcoming Philosophy student here at Warwick, or a current student returning in October, you’ll be on a Summer break right now. One of the best ways to make the most of your summer in my opinion is definitely to expand on your knowledge, or start learning the basics of some of your modules if you know them already. The preliminary lectures do tend to cover the basics, but establishing an understanding of what you will learn beforehand is a massive help and definitely aids progress for when you start writing essays. So, a great way to build your understanding and make the most of your Summer before term starts is by reading some books. Whether you’re a prospective or current Philo undergrad, I hope you will find these books as enjoyable and useful as I did.
1. – Simon Blackburn
I’d say that this is a core book for all those studying Western philosophy, because it pretty much introduces the whole course, and is written in an unintimidating way. It introduces some of the major concepts in Philosophy; is there a God, who am I, what is consciousness? It also explains the viewpoints of some of the major Philosophers like Descartes and Plato, and allows you to see the basic techniques of how Philosophers write.
2. – Jennifer Nagel
This book is exactly how it’s described; a short introduction that takes you straight to the point. This is a very interesting read and helpful in understanding the ways philosophers think, so even if you’re not studying ‘knowledge’ this will come in use to you. It’s also entertaining as there are some anecdotes which definitely spice it up. This is one of my favourites and has helped me through my second year, particularly in ‘Epistemology’ (a module about knowledge).
3. – Simon Blackburn
You don’t have to read the entire dictionary, because that’s quite boring, but this book is absolute key for those terms you will come across that you won’t first understand (and there are many of them). The explanations for all of the terms are very clear, and though you could get these explanations online, it’s quite convenient having them all in one place.
4. – John Gribbin
This is a pretty heavy book, especially if you’re unfamiliar with quantum theory (who isn’t), but it is one of the most informative books I’ve read, as it not only teaches me about the actual thought experiment but uses Physics to do so. This one might be a bit more interesting for those of you who enjoy Metaphysics, but is still interesting nonetheless.
So, those are a few of the books that I have found useful so far as a Philosophy student, and I’d encourage you to read a couple of these over the Summer as it will expand your knowledge and help prepare you for what’s to come. As I’ve already chosen the modules I want to study in my third year, I’m somewhat tailoring my personal reading list to get a head-start on some of the information I’ll need to know when term time begins. I’ll be writing more about some of the modules I’ll be taking next year once I start learning about them, so stay tuned!