If you’d like to at least partly get inside John’s head and to see the world as he saw it, reading one or more of these books will help you do that. Many of these books are probably available at your local public library - and as a longtime library supporter, John would very much encourage you to take advantage of that fact!
(1) A single chapter, “The Grand Inquisitor” chapter, of Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s The Brothers Karamazov. John regarded this as the most important work ever written by anyone. The rest of the book not so much, but that chapter a must-read for understanding the dynamics of religion in society.
(2) Leo Tolstoy‘s The Death of Ivan Illych. The “Western” equivalent of “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”; how to live and how to die meaningfully in a world fraught with distractions until it is too late.
(3) Sheri Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country comes as close as anything John ever read to capturing how humankind could perhaps live in some semblance of peace between nations, religions, and the genders. Clue: It isn’t women who are the problem!
(4) Mark Twain’s Joan of Arc, which was Twain’s favorite of the books he wrote. A little ham-handed, but enchanting for Twain and for John because there is no way to explain Joan except by her being pretty much exactly what she said she was.
(5) Albert Camus’ The Plague. About as unhappy a book as was ever written, but one that grapples without blinking with the great issues of living and dying.
(6) Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, examining how crucial it is for all people to act from a principle-based center that does not give in to expediency but always asks ‘is this the right thing for everyone involved’?
(7) Terry Pratchett’s Small Gods, a tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless amazing study of where gods and their power comes from? The Great God Om will leave you laughing, but also wondering........?
(8) Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is a novel treatment of the birth and life of The Buddha.
(9) There are many translations of the Buddhist text, The Dhammapada; John regarded the best one to be a translation by P. Lal.
(10) John was Buddhist, but also was very comfortably a member of the Springfield, Illinois Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) Meeting; Jan de Hartog’s The Peaceable Kingdom is a wonderful fictional portal into the Quaker world perspective.