A Summer and Fall Semester Reading List for Free Thinkers

Here’s a controversial opinion: the “Michigan Difference” is little more than a collectively reinforced illusion — a clever bait and switch. The simple fact is that most of you are not getting the education you’re paying for.

Your ideas won’t be seriously challenged, your world views won’t be shaken and you will leave college no better off than when you entered.

Disagree? Just take a look at University of Michigan’s free speech ranking.

If you want to make your time in college worth it — although I would encourage you to drop out entirely — you need to take control of your own education and develop a curriculum for yourself outside of your normal classes.

Below is a book list to help you get started. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it is long and you obviously can’t read all of them in one semester. Try to read one or two from each section.

Abridged: The FountainheadThe LawEconomics in One LessonWho Killed HomerPhilosophy: Who Needs ItThe Moral Case for Fossil FuelsZero to One.


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Demons by Dostoevsky
Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky
The Last Day of a Condemned Man by Victor Hugo
Anthem by Ayn Rand

Politics and Economics:

No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton by Christopher Hitchens
The Law by Bastiat
Winning the Unwinnable War: America’s Self-Crippled Response to Islamic Totalitarianism by Yaron Brook
Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand
Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
The Locavore’s Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet by Pierre Desrochers
The Sovereign State and Its Competitors: An Analysis of Systems Change by Hendrik Spruyt
Anatomy of the State by Murray Rothbard
Human Action: The Scholar’s Edition by Ludwig Von Mises

General Humanities:

Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom by Victor Davis Hanson
Not Out Of Africa: How “Afrocentrism” Became An Excuse To Teach Myth As History by Mary Lefkowitz
The Greek Way and The Echo of Greece by Edith Hamilton


The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein
Philosophy: Who Needs It by Ayn Rand
The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand


Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
I Was Blind But Now I See: Time to Be Happy by James Altucher
Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

This is the first article in an ongoing series of reading lists I’ll be writing throughout the Fall and Winter semesters. These lists will include more books, articles, and videos that I’ve found valuable or interesting. Links are NOT necessarily endorsements of the author or of all of the ideas, explicit or implicit, outlined in the books.

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About Derek Magill

Derek Magill was a contributor to the Michigan Review.