Tag: Books

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A little earlier than I expected, my little Augustine book has an Amazon page! Thanks to Wipf and Stock’s unique business model, it’s about a hundred dollars cheaper than your average new academic book–starting at $23.08. It’s also awesomer than your average new academic book, if you can trust the six endorsers (and, to be honest, […]

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I am proud to be a part of Taliesin Nexus and I encourage all emerging filmmakers, storytellers, novelists, and nonfiction writers to learn more about and apply, for free, to the following programs at http://talnexus.com All of the programs are free of charge to participate in. You just have to display some chops as a […]

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I wonder what people living one hundred plus years ago would think if they knew that their descendants loved to dress up like them and put on beautiful, slow-moving dramas with elaborate sets for vast audiences. What fun it would be to demo my laptop to someone from the pre-computer era. On such short acquaintance, he/she could not […]

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I heard from the publisher today and got a look at the book cover they’ve chosen for The Conversion and Therapy of Desire. I’m not sure where the flowery background idea came from, but I’m not complaining. (And it’s growing on me.) My idea would have been to find some old public domain painting of […]

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Ugh. If Only Meyer Had Ever Read…

 

shutterstock_189290039A great many men have been dubbed, “The Last Man to Know Everything.” Indeed, the epithet is apparently a mildly popular sub-genre of biography. Well, I don’t know everything or anything close to it. Never will, either, which — depending on the mood — is either depressing or exciting. Regardless, I have personal and professional reasons to want to learn more stuff about things, particularly on subjects for which I’m either ignorant or poorly informed.

So, Ricochet, here’s your chance to influence this pundit’s thinking and/or make me a better human being: my next book will be chosen by you, based on whichever suggestion receives the most likes in this thread, and I will write at least one post on the subject. The winning selection must be new to me, in English, be under 400 pages, and be available for less than $25 through Amazon or iBook. Fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, history, science, biography, religion … I’m yours to influence.

For background, I was a History and English double major at a school with a reasonably traditional curriculum in those departments and my interests since have tended towards science and economics. For pleasure, I tend to read historical and science fiction, and I’m a late convert to comic books/graphic novels. For more detailed reference, my Goodreads account is a reasonably accurate account of my reading since I created it in 2009 (there are earlier entries, but they were added after the fact, usually to round-out series).

What Are Your Summer Reading Recommendations?

 

shutterstock_107696423One way to talk about reading recommendations might be to say that “the other day, after finishing Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind and with ontological triads floating through my thoughts — there goes one now! — an image of Bernie Sanders flashed before my eyes.” Which of course covers the ground from the sublime to the incomprehensible. Or, from the incomprehensible to the … incomprehensible. Whatever.

Another way to start a conversation about reading recommendations is to imbibe the National Association of Scholars’ recent report on summer reading suggestions made by our illustrious colleges and universities for incoming freshmen. NAS scholars have their own views on these matters, of course, and let’s just say that for the most part they’re not terribly impressed with the list.

Here’s the summary provided by the email message (which also can be found here):

North Korea and the Cleanest Race

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 9.17.30 AMWhile the world tries to determine if North Korea set off a hydrogen bomb (whatever that means), I call your attention to the most enjoyable book by an academic you’re likely to read about the so-called “reclusive” state. It’s author, B. R. Myers, is as curious a fellow as the title.

Politically, Myers is a good Jersey kid gone bad: a liberal professor who who supports the Green Party of the United States, veganism, and animal rights. He has taught North Korean literature at the North Korea Studies Departments of both Dongseo and Korea universities in South Korea. He speaks German, Japanese, and Korean.

Myers’s thesis is that North Korea isn’t the Stalinist state of the popular imagination, but one based on a “paranoid, race-based nationalism” more akin to that of the Third Reich. The book is remarkably readable when you consider that its author is an academic lifer who pays the bills exploring whether North Korea is a Confucian patriarchy based on the filial piety of Kim Jong-Il and the dynastic transfer of power from his father, and whether (and why!) should one believe in orthodox socialist realism instead of the socialist realism so abundant in North Korean literature.

What Have You Read This Year?

 

You’ve all read at least one book this year. I know you have, since Ricochetti are famously literate — not the many-leatherbound-books type (though I have more than my fair share of those). I really enjoy learning what other people read; it’s an eyes-into-the-soul kind of feeling, and I always learn of a few more books to add to my list. So please, post your list of the books you’ve read in 2015!

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This summer, I finally started working through The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. I’d always wanted to read her work, because she had an interesting background: child of missionaries to China, and, as I found from the bio last night, resident of China as an adult because of her husband’s job. Has anybody else […]

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Last year at Thinking Through Christianity we all did a post on a film.  Since my book project Science Fiction Film and the Abolition of Man was just getting underway, I decided to write a short version of the sort of essay I would have written for Part I of SFFAM if I were writing an essay for Part I.  (I’m […]

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After announcing a little book on Augustine, introducing its (very important) topic of desire, and explaining my view of Augustine’s relation to Platonism, it’s time to say a few words on the contents of the book. Why am I doing this? Here are some reasons. 1. This topic is, in its own nerdy way, kind of important. […]

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I just finished Unbroken on my Kindle. It was one of those deeply researched and well-written books that made me reflect in every chapter–actually, made me feel like a different person after I’d read it. Unbroken is the story of Louis Zamperini, one-time Olympic runner who in World War II, went down in a plane over the Pacific […]

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Over the course of my life, there have been many books that have had an impact on my life, but I’d have to say that The Divine Comedy probably stands out among them, and of the three parts, each part called a Cantica, that comprises Dante’s epic, the middle part, Purgatorio, had a perception altering […]

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Okay, I admit it.  Literature just isn’t my thing.  It is pretty obvious that the Ricochetti are a well-read bunch, and I love to come across as smart and refined by contributing to the “Great Literature” threads on Ricochet.  These threads make clear that many Ricochet readers have the discipline and intellectual acumen to have […]

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Better late than never … So you and your fellow soldiers are thousands of miles away from home. Though victorious in battle, you still manage to find yourself on the losing side. Next thing you know your commanders are murdered during supposed negotiations, and you’re nowhere near anywhere that could get you back where you […]

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On Desire

 

shutterstock_298189988Let’s talk for a moment about life, the universe and everything. I don’t know any question about life, the universe, and everything to which the answer is definitely Forty-Two (see Douglas Adams), but I can tell you what some of the best questions are: Why aren’t we as happy as we want to be? How can we become happy?

So what about the answers? Well, these questions motivated millenia of philosophy, and a good bit of religion, too. A lot of interesting answers have been given, at least as far back as Buddha and as recently as C. S. Lewis. A lot of the big philosophers (Buddhists, Stoics, Epicureans, Platonists, Christians medievals, Descartes, Bacon, Lewis) have agreed on the problem: Our desires don’t fit the world. We desire more than this world has to offer. We desire what we can’t have — or what we can have but can’t keep — and we end up losing what we love, or fearing its loss.

There are two general strategies available to fix that problem: 1) We change what we want, so that we want what we can have; or 2) We change the world, so that we can have what we want.

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”There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.” This is the first line of C. S. Lewis’ classic children’s novel “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (the 3rd book Lewis wrote in the Narnia series and the 5th if one reads them chronologically.) Preview Open

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Deum et animam scire cupio: I yearn to know God and the soul.  So says the real Augustine in his 386 A. D. Soliloquies, one of four texts in his Cassiciacum Dialogues.  The other three are: Against the Academics, On the Happy Life, and On Order.  In Soliloquies Augustine also gives us this beautiful little prayer: Deus semper idem, noverim me, noverim te: […]

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Many Ricochetti are interested in writing a book – and getting it published. I plan to explain the basics of getting a book you have written published. My audience are those writers never previously published. C. J. Box does not need my advice.  Nor do Claire Berlinski, John J. Miller, anonymous, and other already-published Ricochetti. This […]

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The Power of Mediocre Children’s Fiction

 

”””””””””nancy-drew-books-cover”””””””””Reach back in your mind to the time when you emerged as an independent reader. You could choose your own material, and didn’t have to rely on others to read it for you. What stories did you prefer? For some of us, the books that drew us in weren’t sophisticated. In fact, there’s a good chance the books you’re recalling were formulaic series that publishers cranked out at high volume. Although it’s tempting for parents to steer their children toward richer literature, there is a case to be made that you actually derived benefit from your obsession with Superman comics or your seven weeks in a row of checking out Babysitters Club books.

Students who learn ably to read and write early on, and then build on that knowledge exponentially throughout their education, are ones who enter Kindergarten already primed with a large vocabulary. This vocabulary development comes from regular conversation with loved ones at home, life experiences such as outdoor walks and petting zoos, playtime with other children, and hearing books read aloud.

With such a stimulating and varied daily life, children build a network of long-term memories through which to interpret anything new they come across. The more they know — the greater number of connections they formed — the faster new information is meaningfully processed and assimilated. A child’s knowledge can be expressed and demonstrated in terms of vocabulary, words with their attendant associations and indication of familiarity with a domain. Any book that increases that word-hoard, filling out familiar concepts and introducing new ideas, strengthens the mental network and thus lays the groundwork for further learning. In sum, reading mediocre children’s fiction makes you smart.