Okay, this is one of the shorter books on my "I have read" list that I don't count as a book, per se. I read it in a dead tree format. It contained words on the pages. The whole object had a cover, title page, copyright, and sections. It qualifies as a book in every legitimate definition of the word.
But it's too short for my book reading count.
This is a printing of David Foster Walace's commencement speech to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. If I had heard it at my college graduation, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have understood it nearly as well as my current day self does. I'm pretty sure if my 21 year old self had understood his words as well as current day self does, my life would have been significantly different.
I'm also pretty sure my 60 year old self will want to smack my current self upside the head, for STILL not understanding these things.
It's a 20 minute read, available in many places online (and in video format, if that's your thing). Worth reading / watching / experiencing.
The point here is that I think this is one part of what the liberal arts mantra of “teaching me how to think” is really supposed to mean: to be just a little less arrogant, to have some “critical awareness” about myself and my certainties… because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.
It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.