Other Books

When not writing, we are usually reading. And sharing our perspective on those books. Check out our About page to find out how to suggest a book for review consideration. 

Capitalism: A victim of its own success

How Will Capitalism End: Essays on a Failing System by Wolfgang Streek is a riveting, disheartening and infuriating collection, written by an eminent academic who comes at economics via sociology, explores the vulnerabilities of capitalism and lays out a compelling argument that it’s doomed because of it’s own success.

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Light on consciousness, and octopus souls

I’ve always thought of octopuses as kind of awesome. Blame it on a misspent youth reading about the misadventures of Doc Ock in Spiderman compounded by the delicious, existential terror of the tentacle-armed elder god Cthulu, courtesy of H.P. Lovecraft. That’s why, on a recent vacation to Molokai, I was particularly excited to read The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery. 

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Where have all the radicals gone?

I imagine a long-ago unicorn moment when a path appeared that, had it been taken, may have dramatically altered the lives of America’s working class, or what we now call the 99 percent. In the mid- to late-part of the 20th century, the labor, civil rights, environmental and feminist movements were at an apogee, an emerging counterweight to the wealth extraction and concentration grinder of capitalism. Looking back, the potential was breathtaking. And then it all fell apart. What happened? Jessa Crispin in Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto looks at this question, in part, from a feminist vantage point, 

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Deconstructing “the violent anarchism of the disinherited and the superfluous”

The Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra traces the current unrest in the world to a Nietzschean ressentiment (the morality of the defeated which gets twisted into a destructive, transformative force) that he thinks has been festering since many countries moved to an industrialized economy. Mishra, a columnist and book reviewer, is an exceptional writer with an uncanny ability to unravel historic trends through writers and thinkers of the day.

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The Yosemite

I read this book because I feel I owe John Muir a debt of gratitude. His all-encompassing, almost mystical and always infectious appreciation for wilderness helped start a movement to conserve wild places for the enjoyment of all. One of those places is Yosemite. I had the opportunity to visit recently and picked up a copy of this book. Pictures from another recent visitor (thanks Stephanie) prompted me to pull this out and read it.

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The conversation as narrative anchor

Outline by Rachel Cusk is about a woman—Faye—traveling to Athens during an oppressively hot summer for a weeklong stay to teach a writing seminar. She has left her husband and son behind in London. Simple enough, but it’s the  structure of the story that sets it apart; it’s told in ten conversations.

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Inequality that would make a robber baron cringe

Walther Scheidel in his book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century provides a scientifically rigorous, excruciatingly detailed and politically agnostic survey of wealth inequality from pre-history to the present. The focus is on factors that reduce, or level, that inequality and the core message is disheartening.

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Cutting the strings of human exceptionalism

In The Soul of the Marionette, philosopher-author John Gray covers familiar ground, eloquently. He plunders obscure writers and leans heavily on his knowledge of history to build an argument that deconstructs human exceptionalism and to dispel the notion that people, society and culture progress in some linear fashion. 

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Girl power, or the opposite

The Girls by Emma Cline is a lightly fictionalized account of aspects of the Manson murders from the late 1960s. This is not a subject that would typically interest me; information and interpretations of that event, along with the cultural context of the Summer of Love era, abound. But this book offered a unique angle: the lens of a single girl — Evie Boyd — who is psychologically seduced by the cult’s leader (in the book, his name is Russell), and joins the “family” of, mostly, girl followers.

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