I have read a lot of books in my time. I have owned a lot of books in my time. More of either than I would care to admit. 😉
I could tell you what my favorite books are. (My favorite book of all time, by the way, is The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.) I could tell you what the most important books in my life have been, with things like Winnie-the-Pooh, The Lord of the Rings, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe near the top. I could even tell you the books that I think are important enough that I have them at the office (and I’ve thought about a blog post about my office library a time or three).
But a book that everyone should read?
Well, that one’s hard.
Different people have different interests and different backgrounds. What they expect from a book will be different than someone else’s expectations, they’ll get different things from a book, different ideas. No book is going to appeal to everyone.
Or, at least, that’s what I thought, five minutes ago when I started typing this. And then, unbidden, the book that everyone should read came to me. And it made perfect sense.
Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.
I don’t suggest Cosmos because it’s a book with personal meaning for me, though it does. I don’t suggest Cosmos because it’s well-written and endlessly fascinating, though it is. Nor do I suggest Cosmos because it tells you what life means; that’s something everyone has to figure that out for themselves.
Rather, I suggest Cosmos as a book for everyone to read because it’s a book about the universe and humanity’s place within it. The universe is bigger and vaster than we can imagine, and in the cosmic scheme of things we are insignificant and our time upon the stage is fleeting at best. Cosmos not only looks at our own history and how we conceived our place within the universe, it looks at the wonders we can imagine and suggests the wonders that we can’t. At the very least, Cosmos will open your eyes to the immensity of the universe we inhabit. At its best, it will inspire dreams and flights of fancy.
Cosmos the television series is excellent. Cosmos the book is even better. 🙂