Four Books to Help Expand Your Mind
Note: The books mentioned on this list are pretty heavy stuff; do not get discouraged if you do not understand the book or have to stop reading it altogether and pick it up at a later date. If you do get discouraged easily, there is probably still time left in Story Time at your local Barnes and Noble you sissy. These four books I have personally read and recommend them for any man who is ready (and willing) to expand his mind. While all of them don’t deal with drugs, two of them do. But don’t let that stop you from reading the other ones on the list.
A personal favorite, this novel deals with one man’s external struggle to become the greatest architect there ever was, although it isn’t his intention. Howard Roark is a man with a vision but a vision all his own. Apathetic about the influences of others (whether they be good or bad) to the point of being hated, Howard Roark is the ultimate definition of an individual. This novel written by Rand deals first and foremost with her philosophy of Individualism; that is the theory that the only one thing a man can truly depend on is himself. American literature being what it is, this novel can be difficult to read for its lack of colorful language; it took me a coupe of years to actually finish it (I started when I was about 16 or 17; I’m 19 going on 20 now.)
Yes, you probably had to read this book in High School or College. But it’s a damn good book if you have the leisure to read it at your own pace. Nick Carraway is a bondsman living in 1920’s Long Island, New York. His next door neighbor the elusive Jay Gatsby is the center of many rumors spread about him, from killing a man to being related to German royalty. Just who is this Jay Gatsby, and how did he come into all of this money? Considered to be the answer to “What is the great American novel?”,Fitzgerald’s work has been deemed a masterpiece. While not as dry as The Fountainhead this novel can be looked at from many different angles, leading the reader to draw their own conclusions.
WARNING: The next two books listed are the two whose main focus is on hallucinogens. While everyone enjoys a good time every now and then (or all the time) these drugs are not to be trifled with lightly. While one mentioned has and is used in recreation, all three are considered entheogens. Entheogens are drugs that are used in a religious or shamanic method rather than for recreation. If you’d like to know more about them, head on over to erowid.org or look up “Entheogen” in a Wikipedia search. You’ve been warned, so any harm that may come to you from taking these drugs after reading this is entirely your own.
From the Huxley family famous for producing great minds in Science and Medicine comes a very interesting and scientific approach on the use of Mescaline. The first part “The Doors of Perception” is about Huxley’s experience with the drug. After ingesting a dose of the psychoactive Huxley explains what he sees and feels while under the influence of this powerful drug, and relates it to his surroundings and experiences. In the second part “Heaven and Hell”, Huxley divulges further into the usage of Mescaline and other drugs to stimulate what he described as “the mind’s antipodes”. The regions of the brain we rarely use during our waking hours. Both works are very analytical and read more like an essay than a story, but are good reads none the less.
Is there another world out there that even the greatest minds of Science cannot fathom? Do these dimensions only manifest themselves under certain conditions? Is our mind truly the greatest weapon of all while simultaneously being our worst prison? While strikingly similar to Huxley’s Doors of Perception, The Teachings of Don Juan takes a spiritual approach when answering the questions above. With the help of Mexican shaman Don Juan, Casteneda embarks on a journey to discover the true power of three psychoactives: Peyote (Mescaline) Psilocybin (Mushrooms) and Datura Stramonium (Deadly Nightshade). This work of non fiction will leave you questioning your very existence and the existence of the world around you, so beware.
Two books of American literature, and two books of hallucinogens and life altering experiences. Reading all four of these works was a life changing experience for me, and hopefully it will be for you as well. The works will leave a lasting impression on you, so get out there and read!
About Cliff Englewood Cliff goes to MSU and is TSB Magazine resident "College Life" contributor with tips and advice to get the most out of your time in college.