Slow Reading in a Hurried Age by David Mikics

This opening reading for the year serves as a thematic continuation of Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book, the January 2022 reading. In Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, literary scholar David Mikics lays out, through fourteen rules, how we can develop the practice of slow, meaningful reading, and then demonstrates their value when exploring the various literary genres.


The Abolition of Man and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Perhaps the most influential Christian apologist of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis wrote more than thirty books, many of which have been recognized as classics. We will be exploring two of those works: The Abolition of Man and The Screwtape Letters. The former, ranking seventh on National Review’s “100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century,” brilliantly argues against subjectivism in morality and values. The latter, a masterpiece in religious satire, reveals the many machinations of the devil and how to recognize and avoid them.


The Two Greatest Ideas by Linda Zagzebski

In this book, philosopher Linda Zagzebski explores the two eponymous “greatest ideas:” the human mind can grasp the universe and the human mind can grasp itself. She examines how the interplay of these two ideas have led to much of the moral and political strife of the past and present, discussing the gaps in our understanding of ourselves and the world and the soon to be coming third reality, where the human mind can understand the other.


The Qur'an: A New Translation by Dr. Thomas Cleary

The late Dr. Cleary, one of the greatest translators of all time, left behind a brilliant translation and interpretation of the Qur’an in the English language. Praised for its clarity and subtle poetic style, Cleary’s translation serves as an excellent study during the sacred month of revelation.


Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a singular author. A distinguished economist by training, Sowell has a gift for expressing complex ideas in clear and enjoyable prose. His essays are gripping and thought-provoking, challenging the zeitgeist. This book collects six striking reflections on subjects ranging from history to culture.


Bhagavad Gita (translated) by Stephen Mitchell

The Emperor Who Never Was by Supriya Gandhi

The Bhagavad Gita, an extended dialogue from the Mahabharata, one of the great Sanskrit epics, is considered a holy text in Hinduism. Where the rest of the epic tells a grand narrative of war, dynastic politics, and the pantheon, the Gita is a focused philosophical reflection. It has attracted a wide commentary tradition over the centuries and remains an accessible point for understanding an important strain of Indic civilization.

The Emperor Who Never Was is a biography that chronicles the life of Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and brother of the emperor Aurangazeb. Both Darah Shikoh and his brother took a scholarly path instead of the ostentatious of their father, with the former penning great works of comparative religion under the direction of his Qadiri Shaykh, Mian Mir, and Aurangazeb producing one of the great compendiums of jurisprudence. However, Darah Shikoh, originally heir apparent, was executed by his brother in dynastic politics, making him ‘the Emperor who never was’. 


Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius, who would become Roman emperor at 40, received an extensive education under great scholars, including the rhetorician Fronto and the Stoic philosopher Rusticus. His correspondence with his teachers shows a rich sense of reflection and evolution in his thought over the years. He spent his rule largely engaged in military campaigns and wrote the this work as a philosophical manual for his own use during his late campaigns. It reflects his deep training in the Stoic tradition, but also an appreciation for thinkers of various stripes.


An Essay on Man by Alexander Pope

The Secret of the Golden Flower (translated) by Thomas Cleary

In the didactic poem An Essay on Man, the great poet and translator Alexander Pope lays out a philosophy of mankind’s place in the natural order in relation to the world and under the ultimate authority of God. It made an immediate and lasting impact, both in Britain and in the Commonwealth, with thoughtful admirers and critics alike. Today, it provides an excellent opportunity to delve into Pope’s verse–not nearly as widely studied today as it used to be–and to reflect on the philosophical themes therein.

The Secret of the Golden Flower is a Daoist work on meditation that became well-known in the west as a psychological manual, due to a translation by Richard Wilhelm with a commentary by his friend, Carl Jung. However, this effort was hampered by fundamental mistakes in translation and cultural context, making the product rather inaccurate to the Chinese original. As a result, Dr. Cleary translated the work in order to correct the misconceptions that surround it.

Full 2023 book schedule coming soon

Explore Year 1 of the First Command Book Club


How to Read a Book

Mortimer Adler’s classic work aims to equip the avid reader with the tools necessary to critically analyze and enjoy books from any tradition. This foundational skill makes an excellent start to the book club, as you will be able to apply its lessons throughout the year.


Cynical Theories

In Cynical Theories, Pluckrose and Lindsay analyze and break down the modern sociopolitical narratives that inform the present-day social justice movement.


The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History

The great Maliki scholar Ibn Khaldun is considered a pioneer of the social and natural sciences. While his bibliography is vast, it is the Muqaddimah that brings together his most famous and penetrating insights.


The Koran Interpreted

A. J. Arberry’s translation of the Holy Qur’an has been praised for its use of language, which remains striking and accessible even decades after its release.


Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen’s debut novel is a classic of English prose that offers a clever and witty depiction of middle-class life in nineteenth century England.



This text by the great Greek philosopher is perhaps the most foundational work of political philosophy. It famously follows his ethical treatise, The Nicomachean Ethics, underscoring Aristotle’s view that ethics necessarily precedes politics when establishing a just society.


Notes from Underground and Bartleby, the Scrivener

Notes from Underground provides poignant social critique, philosophical musings, and detailed reflections on life in late-nineteenth-century Russia. Bartleby, the Scrivener, an American short story from the same era, explores both philosophical and psychological themes through the experiences of its titular character


The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky’s final novel is a philosophical and theological reflection set against the backdrop of social change in Russia.


Islam and Secularism

In this seminal work, Professor Syed Naquib al-Attas analyzes a crisis of knowledge in the modern day and proposes a framework for a harmonious use of knowledge from various sources, so long as they follow an intellectual and spiritual hierarchical order.


Al-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyya and Muhammad ﷺ: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources

This famous work by Imam al-Tirmidhi beautifully presents a careful selection of hadith that extol the blessed appearance, character, manners, and lifestyle of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It allows readers to deepen their appreciation for and love of God’s best and most perfect of all creation. To complement this study, we will also read the pioneering English sirah, Muhammad ﷺ: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources.


The Drama of Atheist Humanism

De Lubac traces modern atheism to its original sources, demonstrating how this intellectual genealogy has reverberated across a range of schools of thought.


The Bacchae, Measure for Measure, Pygmalion, and Tartuffe

Each of these four plays is an archetype of its era and literary style. The first three, an ancient Greek tragedy, an Elizabethan comedy, and grand siècle French comedy offer deep insights on the contrasting elements of vice and virtue, and religion and secularism, which remain relevant today. The last, a modern classic, draws upon these influences to sketch a portrait of class, language, and education in England.