The Stevenson Core Course at UC Santa Cruz focuses on the relations between the self and society—hence the theme “Self & Society.” Within this course, an abundance of spectacular texts are read: Gilgamesh, Tao Te Ching, Matthew: The New Testament, The Genealogy of Morals, Writing with Style, and plenty more. However, the following three listed are highly suggest reading despite whether you are in this class or not.

1. Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning is much more than “another Holocaust story.” The author, Viktor Frankl, was a German Jew who survived the concentration camps in World War II. He provides his perspective and experience on what it was like to be a prisoner in a concentration camp from a psychological point of view. This book highlights both the physical and mental abuse that occurred within these camps and provides a whole new view on what the camps were genuinely like for these prisoners.

2. Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr

In this story, Don Manuel—the protagonist—displays a beautiful example of what it means to give your life for the service of others. This man devotes his life to making sure others are happy and prosperous; He puts the needs of others before his own. Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr is a wonderful narration involving religion, family, and community.

3. The World’s Religions

This particular book is filled with perspectives on the many, diverse religions of the world—Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, etc. Huston Smith does an amazing job at explaining each of these viewpoints in great detail and clarity. If you wish you learn more about the world and the different perspectives that come with it, I highly recommend this book.

These three books are phenomenal and hold an incredible amount of significance to your life and the world around you. These books will inform you and educate you on the history and different perspectives that have and will continue to surround you. Whether or not you take the Stevenson Core Course, you should take the time to read at least one of the listed books—they will impact you in unimaginable ways!


Sophie Bales


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