A Few Books

January 21, 2006

I have been reading a bit, but I’ve been far too lazy to write anything worth calling a review. Here’s a few quick titles and maybe a line or two of reaction.

  • Wine for Dummies by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan. I haven’t finished it, but wine still seems like a hopelessly complicated subject about which I will never have more than a rudimentary understanding. Fortunately, understanding wine isn’t a necessary part of enjoying it. But perhaps finishing the book will help.
  • Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I’m wary of “Zen and the art of” type books. They tend to be heavy on “the art of” and short on the Zen; and it’s not clear to me anyway that reading or talking about Zen is anything but counterproductive. Still, this little book seems genuine. Page after page is filled with writing advice that inspires rather than tires. Can’t beat that. I’ll read this one through to the end for sure.
  • Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. I haven’t made a single one of these recipes but bought a crock pot a few weeks ago and I’ve got my eye on some of these stews and chilis. I’ll let you know how they work out when I get around to trying them.
  • The End of Faith by Sam Harris. What a challenging book. It was such a potent read because Harris was either saying exactly the sorts of things I believe myself (as when he constructs a blistering criticism of faith itself), or he was saying things that I quite literally found shocking (as when he suggested that torturing people is on the same moral footing as collateral damage in war). In the end, I took what I liked and let the rest go. Faith – that state of affairs in which one’s credulity about certain propositions does not scale with the available evidence – is in my opinion a net bad thing for the modern world. But I don’t think I’ll start torturing anyone any time soon.
  • Homegrown Democrat by Garrison Keillor. You have to love Garrison Keillor. At least I do. His storytelling is magic. I know from his articles and essays and from catching his radio show on occasion. This, however, is the first book of his that I have read. I’m happy to report that his homey style works just as well here as it does in other venues. This, I gather, is somewhat of a break with tradition for Garrison; apparently he has never made a public issue of his political views before. I think the Bush presidency moved him to do it and I can’t blame him. So Garrison is a Democrat. And still a great storyteller. If ever you find yourself buying into the idea that being left-of-center in American politics is about living being a well-educated, coastal elitist, read this book. It clearly shows how liberalism has its roots in the heartland of America and that it reflects the values of the plain-spoken, hardworking people there.

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  1. HEllo. Just added your link here.

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