Thursday, February 03, 2011

Reading List Update

I've updated the reading list on the right sidebar.

By coincidence I read two WWII books authored by women. I found both books a little disquieting. Rather than portraying the horror and revulsion of war they tended to romanticize the experiences of the men about whom they wrote and ignored the tremendous suffering and abuse they experienced. The books were U-Boat Adventures: Firsthand Accounts from World War II by Melanie Wiggins and 4000 Bowls of Rice: A Prisoner of War Comes Home by Linda Goetz Holmes. Interesting books but needing more brutal honesty.

By contrast I picked up a book written by a German officer (Five Years, Four Fronts by Georg Grossjohann). Before my trip to Kentucky I wanted a second book to take along. I spent five minutes in a used book store and made a quick decision. When I bought it I thought the book seemed familiar but I was short of time and didn't browse it but for a second. When I started reading it on the plane I knew I had read it before. It's a good book that more honestly portrays an unpleasant reality.

A conversation with a co-worker led to the loaning of Click: The Magic of Instant Connections by brothers Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. I found the book interesting but not gripping. It was easy reading but was too long on examples. The jacket mentioned Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior that was authored by the brothers. I found a copy of Sway at the local library and am well into it. Once again it interesting but a little too wordy on the examples for my preference.

Freakonomics, a gift from a graduate student.
Freakonomics, a gift to Julie from a graduate student.

A graduate student gave Julie a copy of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The student is a brother to one of the authors. I found the book fascinating. I recommended it to one of my sisters. Her reaction: "Went to the library Saturday and got Freakonomics. It is SO me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for recommending it! You know what I like best about the book? That there are independent thinkers who don't just accept a given explanation. I find that totally refreshing and it gives me hope! I don't feel like I personally run into too many of those types.".

Julie and I enjoyed Freakonomics so much that we tracked down a copy of Super Freakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by the same authors. We are about halfway through the book. Do I agree with everything they've written? No, but it does challenge me to think which is a good thing.


Anonymous Alex Pendragon said...

I have always wondered why anybody with critical thinking skills can actually think that capitalism or "free" enterprise actually adheres to any of the rules they portend to necessitate, and ignore the hard truths that neither one of them can exist without massive exploitation. It's much the same as why polititions never seem to ask OR answer the hard questions, since the never seem equiped to dare to tackle them with honesty. So I take anything I hear with a big grain of salt.

2/03/2011 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

It is possible that women of that era were taught to put a softer focus on traumatic events.

2/03/2011 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger Regenia said...

I, like, Alex Pendragon, have never understood the assertion that "free" markets are the answer; pretty much the answer to everything. The idea that any enterprise involving human beings can overcome the potential evil of said human beings uses some faith or logic, or something that I just don't get.

Being a Christian (I hope. I know I want to be, anyway.), I am particularly baffled by the fact that Christians buy into this argument. Does that mean we believe that all humans are sinful, but the human institution called the "free" markets are the one exception? One president (whom Christians evidently liked a lot) termed it the "magic of the market". In a word, scary! At least from my perspective.

2/05/2011 08:17:00 AM  

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