Oct 04, 2017

Books read Q3 2017

Books I finished or dropped in the third quarter of 2017:

  1. Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitchens
    A passionate case for why Orwell remains relevant. Hitchens is a great writer, and it's a lot of fun to watch him demolish some of Orwell's louder critics.

  2. 1984 by George Orwell
    Somehow I evaded 1984 in high school. It's surprisingly fresh & disturbing for a classic that's been so thoroughly absorbed by the zeitgeist.

  3. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
    Airplanes and prophets in the Midwest. Whimsical & optimistic.

  4. As We Are Now by May Sarton
    Despair and death in New England. Not whimsical, somewhat optimistic.

  5. [didn't finish] The Shipwrecked Mind by Mark Lilla (audiobook)
    Collection of essays about philosophical reactionaries. The essays are somewhat disjoint, one suspects they were hurriedly assembled into a package fit for the angst of the 2016 book market. Interesting, but dense & hard to follow. Also discussing thinkers that I had no prior familiarity with, so it's hard for me to assess the quality of Lilla's criticism.

  6. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
    Like Illusions, but with seagulls instead of airplane pilots. Or maybe Illusions is like JLS with pilots instead of seagulls?

  7. My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
    Part memoir, part pop-sci examination of anxiety; I hadn't read a book structured like it before. Probably the most thorough treatment of anxiety disorders intended for lay readers.

  8. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
    Feminist essay collection. Good overall, though will make you feel bad about being a man if you're a man. Solnit's a good writer.

  9. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes (audiobook)
    Deserves a whole post of its own. Having a society dedicated to it is a good signal that a book is powerful (i.e. either brilliant or cultish). For now, I'll follow Richard Dawkins: "It is one of those books that is either complete rubbish or a work of consummate genius, nothing in between! Probably the former, but I'm hedging my bets."

  10. [didn't finish] On Photography by Susan Sontag
    Collection of polemical essays against photography, by a photograph buff. Good, but gets repetitive after a while. I read this while driving through British Columbia, and it convinced me to not take any pictures of the magnificent mountains.

  11. [didn't finish] Erasing Hell by Francis Chan, Preston Sprinkle
    About why hell is a necessary part of Christianity. Aimed at a lay Christian audience, engaging in a debate I'm not well-versed in.

  12. A Primer for Philosophy and Education by Samuel Rocha
    Short pamphlet about how to do philosophy in one's everyday life. Pleasantly commonsensical.

  13. [didn't finish] A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman (audiobook)
    Memoir about microdosing LSD as a treatment for depression. Confirmed my bias on the subject, but poorly written.

  14. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
    Robin does it again. More whimsical adventures in the techful Bay Area - this time with baking!

  15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
    I followed the proscribed method and my apartment is much more pleasant now. The actual book is very skimmable. I agree with Elizabeth's review.

  16. [didn't finish] The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
    Compilation of essay-lectures by 49ers coach Bill Walsh. Good principles, repetitive presentation. Core principles: focus on the details of performance, don't worry about the high-level outcome, hold everyone in the organization to a high "standard of performance", fire those who don't meet the standard and those who don't conform to the culture.

  17. Acid Test by Tom Shroder
    History of psychedelic policy and activism over the last 40 years. Very good, told with drama.

[rereads: 1, edits: 0]