The short version of my review: Mr. Haidt's book at times reads like a thesis paper, with phrasing such as, "In this chapter, I'll develop the analogy...more The short version of my review: Mr. Haidt's book at times reads like a thesis paper, with phrasing such as, "In this chapter, I'll develop the analogy..." and with "In Sum" summations at the end of each chapter, but his message is anything but dry. This isn't just a political theory book. It is a blend of political theory, biological evolution, psychological evaluation, chemical physiology, social experimentation, anthropological investigation and macroeconomics with a dash of pop culture, street-wise, trash talk, "Can't we all just get along?" in an effort to help the reader understand why some at the dinner party get angry when one person wants to discuss a hot topic.
(Oh, you're still here?) Here is my longer version:
"If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from their angle as well as your own." - Henry Ford (p. 49)
My husband and I have long had discussions based on this idea alone. If you can't argue the other side's position, you don't understand the issue.
This book may be the first of its kind. Jonathan Haidt does an excellent job of reaching beyond his own viewpoints (and he clearly states that he is a liberal atheist) and coming to the crux of the matter:
"I had escaped from my partisan mind-set (reject first, ask rhetorical questions later) and began to think about liberal and conservative policies as manifestations of deeply conflicting but equally heartfelt visions of the good society (p. 109)."
He theorizes how difficult it is for us to look beyond our political and religious beliefs in order to understand another point of view.
"... Each individual reasoner is really good at one thing: finding evidence to support the position he or she already holds, usually for intuitive reasons. We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play. But if you put individuals together in the right way, such that some individuals can use their reasoning powers to disconfirm the claims of others, and all individuals feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system (p. 90)."
...And how the situation (if it isn't changed) could become more polarizing:
"Before this realignment [changes of political parties after the Civil War] there had been liberals and conservatives in both parties, which made it easy to form bipartisan teams who could work together on legislative projects ... Nowadays the most liberal Republican is typically more conservative than the most conservative Democrat (p. 310)."
"Nonetheless, if you are trying to change an organization or a society and you do not consider the effects of your changes on moral capital, you're asking for trouble. This, I believe is the fundamental blind spot of the left. It explains why liberal reforms so often backfire, and why communist revolutions usually end up in despotism. It is the reason I believe that liberalism - which has done so much to bring about freedom and equal opportunity - is not sufficient as a governing philosophy. It tends to overreach, change too many things too quickly, and reduce the stock of moral capital inadvertently. Conversely, while conservatives do a better job of preserving moral capital, they often fail to notice certain classes of victims, fail to limit the predations of certain powerful interests, and fail to see the need to change or update institutions as times change (p. 294)."
Mr. Haidt places great emphasis on the need for both parties... but with both sides working together in a system of cooperation as well as in a watchdog, checks-and-balances relationship.
"Creating a nation of multiple competing groups and parties was, in fact, seen by America's founding fathers as a way of preventing tyranny(p. 243)."
"We need both, often in a shifting or alternating balance. John Stuart Mill said that liberals and conservatives are like this: 'A party of order or stability, and a party of progress or reform, are both necessary elements of a healthy state of political life' (p. 294)."
In his path to direct us to the realization that all viewpoints are needed and should work together, Haidt uses nearly every field of scientific study to underscore his points. Besides simple political philosophy, like this:
[In the 'Moral Foundations Theory,' with the categories of Care, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity,] "Liberals value Care and Fairness far more than the other three foundations; conservatives endorse all five foundations more or less equally (p. 161)."
... he weaves in biology, psychology, chemistry, physiology, and anthropology. Haidt theorizes our political proclivities down to our individual cells! Here are a few of my favorite examples of this:
"...Around 2 billion years ago, two bacteria somehow joined together inside a single membrane, which explains why mitochondria have their own DNA, unrelated to the DNA in the nucleus... Cells that had internal organelles could reap the benefits of cooperation and the division of labor (see Adam Smith)... Whenever a way is found to suppress free riding so that individual units can cooperate, work as a team, and divide labor, selection at the lower level becomes less important, selection at the higher level becomes more powerful, and that higher-level selection favors the most cohesive superorganisms (p. 200-201)."
"After analyzing the DNA of 13,000 Australians, scientists recently found several genes that differed between liberals and conservatives. Most of them related to neurotransmitter functioning, particularly glutamate and serotonin, both of which are involved in the brain's response to threat and fear. This finding fits well with many studies showing that conservatives react more strongly than liberals to signs of danger, including the threat of germs and contamination, and even low-level threats such as a sudden blasts of white noise. Other studies have implicated genes related to receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has long been tied to sensation-seeking and openness to experience, which are among the best-established correlates of liberalism (p. 279)."
Omnivores therefore go through life with two competing motives: neophilia (an attraction to new things) and neophobia (a fear of new things)... Liberals score higher on measures of neophilia ... not just for new foods but also for new people, music, and ideas. Conservatives are higher on neophobia; they prefer to stick with what's tried and true, and they care a lot more about guarding borders, boundaries, and traditions (p. 148)."
While I didn't agree with every argument of Haidt's (his atheism really shows through), I found his intention and efforts most sincere and honorable. In a country in the midst of a War of Words, this book is the peace treaty.
(Warning: This review shows signs of self-indulgence.)
Life Changing. This is seriously The Coolest Book Ever. (Hey Jodi! I liked it!)
"How many of us r...more(Warning: This review shows signs of self-indulgence.)
Life Changing. This is seriously The Coolest Book Ever. (Hey Jodi! I liked it!)
"How many of us really stop to consider what a true miracle letter-forms actually are? ... "Twenty-six purely abstract symbols that in and of themselves mean absolutely nothing, but when put together in the right combinations can introduce into the heads of readers an infinite variety of sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, places, people, characters, situations, feelings, ideas. In the right hands entire universes are born out of just a few sentences, and can be just as quickly destroyed." (in the Foreword, by Chip Kidd)
I have long had a love affair with words. Sometimes I don't treat them as well as I should, but I love what they do to me and what a master can do with them. And while what's on the inside is important, this book has drawn my attention to the way we clothe words. I can no longer sit back and ignore the way they look.
Subconsciously, though, I've been paying attention the whole time. I am a product of typeface.
My memories from Days of Yore are full of evenings tracing card stock letters onto poster paper, and then cutting around the lines, leaving scraps of paper on the table and floor and smearing glue stick on the back of each letter and positioning it onto the banner for a church advertisement, a school science fair project or a campaign poster. (We had a few fonts to choose from. Sans serif was always easier to cut around.) Those who use dye cut machines today are cheating and will never know the true satisfaction of the blisters one gets around the thumb and forefinger knuckles after hours of holding a pair of old-fashioned metal scissors!
Another memory was with my obsession with the movie, Annie, and how I would imitate and duplicate the movie title writing it over and over until I knew every nuance of its form. I knew how the legs of the A serif'ed out (can 'serif' be a verb?) and the way the 'n's were connected by the feet, and the little curl on the finish of the 'e.' (As soon as this memory returned to me, I sat down and tried to draw it out, and it came right back. I am proud to say that I can still write "Annie" just like the 1982 movie poster!) I'd never thought, though, what font this might be. By reading this book, I think CooperBlack comes close, but my investigations online have come up empty.
I have spent plenty of time on free font websites searching for that perfect font for the astronaut birthday party (Nasalization), or the Chinese New Year dinner (Nixon), or a quirky tea party (Sunshine Poppy). (Allow me to defend myself in stating that for any non-celebratory documents, I'm partial to Garamond.)
Fonts have ruled my life - and probably have yours without your knowing it. In our day to day lives, type faces are all around us. In virtual reality, we breathe them. Have you ever wished for a sarcastic font for social media? Did you know that the Goodreads logo is the ubiquitous Helvetica? Have you noticed the switch from Helvetica in the edit box to Georgia (at least, I'm pretty sure it's Georgia) for the posted review? There have been moments when I was unnerved after having looked at the review I had written, then posted it and it felt unfamiliar and emotionally changed in another font.
Or, maybe it's just me.
This book is delightful and fascinating. Simon Garfield has smoothly combined a whole bunch of technical terminology and history and made it snarky and humorous and captivating for the layman. (My only complaint is that I wanted more complete displays of the fonts referenced. Upon reflection, though, this would probably increase the size of the book by at least a third.)
He masterfully explains what makes a good font ...
"Such readability will be aided by regular paragraphs and sufficient margins, and by an acceptable line length (this is naturally dependent on the size of the text, but is ideally considered to be between ten and twelve words). The space between letters and their relationship to each other is as important as the space between lines (leading or pointing). There should be a contrast between thick and thin strokes, and letters should be in a regular proportion to each other. Variety in width is particularly important, with the upper half of letters being more readable than the lower half. The weight of letters in a block of text should generally be medium - too light a type will cause letters to appear grey and indistinct, while too dark will cause the letters to appear overly thick, wrecking distinguishing details and blocking out the background (p. 55)."
"[Beatrice Warde's] simple and sound theory was that the best type existed merely to communicate an idea. It was not there to be noticed, much less admired. The more a reader becomes aware of a typeface or a layout on a page, the worse that typography is ... 'The most important thing,' Warde said, 'is that it conveys thought, ideas, images, from one mind to other minds' ... The book typographer's job was building a window between the reader inside a room and 'that landscape which is the author's words. He may put up a stained-glass window of marvelous beauty, but a failure as a window; that is, he can use some rich superb type like text gothic that is something to be looked at, not through. Or he may work in what I call transparent or invisible typography. I have a book at home, of which I have no visual recollection whatever as far as its typography goes; when I think of it, all I see is The Three Musketeers and their comrades swaggering up and down the streets of Paris' (p. 58)."
...and how small details of similar fonts can change their feeling and why this should have any importance to us.
I was taken with his example of the man who was determined to go a day without the use of Helvetica, but found it nearly impossible to avoid (pp. 126-7).
I was pleased to meet the woman who invented the British 'children crossing' sign (p. 144) (She also came up with the the men at work sign) as I had noticed during my studies in Europe that they varied from country to country (Italy's is still the most charming).
I was entranced with the several comparisons of the lower case letter "g" (p. 174) and intrigued by the discussion about the ampersand, the interrobang, and what to call the @ symbol.
"...Yet despite its current usage, the @ is not a product of the digital age, and may be almost as old as the ampersand. It has been associated with trade for many centuries, known as an amphora or jar, a unit of measurement. Most countries have their own term for it, often linked to food (in Hebrew it is shtrudl, meaning strudel, in Czech it is zavinac or rollmop herring) or to cute animals (Affenschwanz or monkey's tail in German, snabel-a, meaning 'the letter a, with a trunk,' in Danish, sobaka or dog in Russian), or to both (escargot in French) (p. 269)."
Finally, I have discovered a curious new necessity of checking the colophon of each book I read in search for the typeface biography.
This potpourri of bookish memories and historical facts is nice, but comes across as a bit haphazard.
What it does, though, is cause the reader to thin...moreThis potpourri of bookish memories and historical facts is nice, but comes across as a bit haphazard.
What it does, though, is cause the reader to think back through his own experiences and memories with books:
I remember (as will most, I assume) making a weekly trip to the public library as a young girl and being allowed to take TEN (only ten!) books home with me. They would have a special place in my room to keep them sheltered from my private collection and to insure I would not have to pay any fine.
I remember the sophistication I felt when my mother would allow me to be dropped off ALONE to spend the evening at the Whitmore library in order to work on a research paper and my knowing that there would be other teenagers there with the possibilities of meeting someone new.
I remember sleepless nights and sleepy days spent in the Marriott library at the University of Utah, preparing for exams and researching topics. I remember my first experiences with the new invention of the world wide web and email were in those marbled halls. Lexus/Nexus was miraculous... but the musty smell of the collections of collegiate books was holy.
I remember, just previous to and during our courtship (in fact immediately after my beloved first told me he wanted to marry me!), spending long evenings in Barnes & Noble with my future husband. Sitting near him on the couches, sharing different styles of books, laughing and thinking - these were moments of great intimacy.
I remember, on an overcast day in Sun Valley, hopping into a local bookstore with our children to get out of the rain. I consciously noticed how each member of our family enveloped themselves into a different corner of that store and, though independent and solitary, we felt united and connected through our love of books.
I remember visits to a small local bookstore with small cramped rooms and books lining walls and staircases and stuck into whatever crevices were available and feeling the thrill of deciphering which section I had come across (for lack of signage!) by looking at the books alone.
I will remember our present trips to Barnes & Noble with our children and watching them come back with armloads of books hoping they can talk us into allowing them to have all of them and then leaving having spent far more than we should on books for which we have no more shelf space yet not feeling one twinge of guilt for it.
I read this to my ten-year-old during two sick days. She was entranced by the secret garden and cottage and the visiting animals, but about two-thirds...moreI read this to my ten-year-old during two sick days. She was entranced by the secret garden and cottage and the visiting animals, but about two-thirds through, she noted that Mandy should 'get adopted.' I cynically offered that she would indeed and that if, in the future, a book she is reading begins with a little girl in an orphanage, she could assume that there will be an adoption take place (not so with little orphan boys, however).
There were some charming moments of this book, and my daughter was eager for me to continue, but I just couldn't love the main character. I found her to be ungrateful, selfish and disobedient with no redeeming qualities. As we ended, my daughter also felt that Mandy was acting like a brat (I don't think it was my influence...) and we discussed her choices and attitude at length. Still, when I tried to give the book a new, more traumatic ending, my daughter would have none of that, and desired the more cliché, saccharine one.(less)
Don't let my poor rating dissuade you. This is an incredibly creative book. Unfortunately, for my taste, it felt like it was trying to be a "Creative...moreDon't let my poor rating dissuade you. This is an incredibly creative book. Unfortunately, for my taste, it felt like it was trying to be a "Creative Book."
Truly there was potential, but it felt so contrived that it was difficult to get through. We started out reading this as a family (months ago!) and no one was enjoying it. I rarely stop reading books once I've begun, so I persevered on my own.
In addition to its repetitive nature, it got bogged down with arrogantly forced thesaurusistic (my invention) words, the constant homage through anagram to actual authors (I thought this was a terrible distraction and interrupted the flow, not to mention the oddity that the actual works of the authors were used as if this "new" author had written them), and a world created to be so unique (nothing is "so" unique... it's either unique or it isn't, right?) that I found it difficult to relate.
About two-thirds through, I realized that this was originally written in German, and thought that I should give it some allowances for being "lost in translation."
Still. With this reading I discovered a form of literary claustrophobia.
It wasn't all for naught, though. I found the theories embedded in the last one hundred pages (subtract all the foolish dialogue on the last fifty) worthwhile and even enlightening:
**** SPOILERS ****
"'You've just read the whole of the Weeping Shadows' library,' he said. 'It was a dancing lesson of a very special kind.' 'But what was the point?' I demanded, sitting up with a groan. 'I nearly went mad, I didn't understand any of it, and I've as good as forgotten it all again.' 'It's always the same with demanding literature, [he] replied..(p. 381)."
" One's memory functions like a spider's web. Unimportant things - the wind, for example - a web lets through, whereas captured flies become lodged in it and are stored there until the spider needs and devours them. I've read and long forgotten many books in my life, but their important features have lodged in my mental net, ready to be rediscovered years or decades later. The incorporeal books of the Weeping Shadows were another matter. They had passed through me like water trickling through a sieve. I thought I'd forgotten them within seconds, but I noticed the next day that some of them had lodged in my mind after all. (p. 382)."
'No!' I wailed. 'No, I won't! I don't want to leave the Library of the Orm! I want to stay here! Please!' But the Shadow Kings held me in an iron grip and dragged me off along the passage regardless of my struggles. 'I warned you those books were dangerous,' he said (p. 405)."
"Sometimes, in the course of my hopeless quest, I would pick up and dip into one of the ordinary books that lay strewn around the castle. Whenever I did, it seemed so insipid and insubstantial that I flew into a rage and hurled it at the wall after reading the first few sentences. I was spoilt for any other form of literature, and the mental torment I endured was comparable to the agony of unrequited love compounded by the withdrawal symptoms associated with a severe addiction (p. 408)."
I also was intrigued with the writing exercises on page 340:
"It was easy enough to describe a palace of ice and snow but incredibly difficult to write about a single hair. Or a spoon. Or a nail. Or a grain of salt. Or a splinter. Or a candle flame. Or a drop of water."
And some of the advice on page 267:
Never put more words in a sentence than genuinely belong in it. If a full stop is a wall, a colon is a door. Footnotes are like books on the bottom shelf. No one likes looking at them because they have to bend down. Stealing from one author is plagiarism; from many authors, research. Big books are big because the author didn't have the time to express himself succinctly.
Judging by today's standards would probably warrant this book only two stars. Not that I didn't enjoy this work of science fiction. There were many st...moreJudging by today's standards would probably warrant this book only two stars. Not that I didn't enjoy this work of science fiction. There were many stories in this collection that were fully engrossing. Each on their own has merit and acumen. Held together, however, they become repetitive and tedious: Mars and the "Blacks," Mars and the Catholics, Mars and Famous Authors...I began to anticipate upcoming stories such as "Mars and the Mormons," and "Mars and Little People." Still. The prescience Bradbury delivers is amazing and sheds much light into the hopes and fears of people living in the early 20th Century.
Ray Bradbury is the C.S. Lewis of SciFi (or SF, is it, Cameron Dayton?). Their works read with a similar cadence and simplicity, and both are teachers of morality. Bradbury is definitely the less optimistic of the two. His tales are full of regret and sorrow, a warning to the future that technology is going to be our downfall.
*Speaking of downfall: When I came to Rocket Man I wanted to linger in Elton John's version of the story, but the one that kept replaying in my mind was this debacle ("I'm not the MAN! they think I am at home").
Bill Bryson tells us more than we could ever want to know about our homes and the history behind their development, though at times the information is...moreBill Bryson tells us more than we could ever want to know about our homes and the history behind their development, though at times the information is inundating, Bryson does it with such finesse and delicious irony, there is very little tedium in this minutiae.
His adept progression reminds me of the James Burke Connections series I used to watch years ago, especially this favorite.
I cringed during the infection and bedbug sections, learned a new cautious respect for staircases, and grew greater appreciation for the conveniences of modern medicine and political freedoms relatively recently acquired.
This account makes one appreciate the journey humans have taken to create a life of convenience and comfort.(less)
An incredibly fun and scandalous read! Perfect fodder for the Halloween season. Everything we know of Dracula stems from this book, thus we can approa...moreAn incredibly fun and scandalous read! Perfect fodder for the Halloween season. Everything we know of Dracula stems from this book, thus we can approach it as the quirky and hilarious melodrama it is. Can you imagine, though, sitting around a fire and reading it when originally written?! Ghastly!
Van Helsing is a delightful combination of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Crazy and brilliant.
In addition, this book is full of the use of symbols and themes, including the conflict of religion and reason.
At times (especially near the end) it ran on so, and would that I could have rushed to the castle and done the deed myself just to see it over! Still. The writing is quality, and the anticipation is part of the journey.(less)
(4 1/2 stars) Haunting, complex and complete, Diane Setterfield does not rush this tale. She has masterfully created a mysterious and dysfunctionally...more(4 1/2 stars) Haunting, complex and complete, Diane Setterfield does not rush this tale. She has masterfully created a mysterious and dysfunctionally creepy story with every nuance and aspect of the characters slowly, but steadily revealed. The writing is excellent and the motif of dualistic identities was ubiquitous...nearly to irritation. Still. If you like this sort of device (and I do), the parallels are pleasing.(less)
"The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the wit...moreEnjoyed The Million Pound Bank Note best.
Liked the quote from How to Tell A Story:
"The humorous story is American, the comic story is English, the witty story is French. The humorous story depends for its effect upon the manner of the telling; the comic story and the witty story upon the matter."
How does one rate the pamphlet that inspired the motivations of George Washington and the other founders when severing the ties to England? It must be...moreHow does one rate the pamphlet that inspired the motivations of George Washington and the other founders when severing the ties to England? It must be good.
While not necessarily fun reading, Mr. Paine's work is informative and insightful, especially when you try to imagine the brouhaha it caused before anyone knew what the outcome would be. This is the stuff we've heard over and over again, but from the original source.
Just because you've heard the phrases "Free At Last" or "I Have A Dream" doesn't mean you don't need to read the original MLK speech in it's entirety. Of course you should! So you should also read this. (I suppose.)(less)
Because the French tend to be more tight-lipped about the Holocaust in France than the Germans, themselves, it can be difficult to know what actually...moreBecause the French tend to be more tight-lipped about the Holocaust in France than the Germans, themselves, it can be difficult to know what actually happened there during that time. This book is an intriguing account, though even the author herself mentions that much of the information is second, or third-hand. Still, it's a wonderful account of one group of people risking their lives for another.
However, I'm not sure to whom this book is directed. The illustrations are nice, but the amount of words on single pages is too much for any kind of lap-reading with children. Both of my children (ages 9 and 12)approached this book in the same way. They noticed the vibrant blue cover, picked it up and then quickly looked through the illustrations, not interested enough to read it.(less)
I was hoping that this would be my new favorite story for Christmas, adding to my love for Wales.
What is wrong with me?! I need someone to explain why...moreI was hoping that this would be my new favorite story for Christmas, adding to my love for Wales.
What is wrong with me?! I need someone to explain why this book is so highly rated. After two readings I have yet to make sense of it. The illustrations are sweet, but the story is rambling and difficult.
I also bought the audio, which I thought might help, but as yet has only made me fall asleep. (It might have something to do with my exhaustion in preparing for Christmas).
I will try again. In the meantime, someone please teach me to enjoy this book!(less)
I think my rating is closer to 3 1/2 stars, but I held back because I'm not so fond of the sing-songy rhyming (although for the target age range, this is appropriate and would work well being read aloud).
This is one to which you (I) don't just allow a child to have free access lest the tokens inside the envelopes end up missing/torn, etc. This goes on a top shelf.(less)
Not easy reading, but I'm so glad I didn't cover this classic back in my college days when I was apt to skim (like I did with Paradiso and Purgatorio)...moreNot easy reading, but I'm so glad I didn't cover this classic back in my college days when I was apt to skim (like I did with Paradiso and Purgatorio). I am envious, though, of my husband's opportunity in college to study this in an Intellectual Traditions of the West class. A group discussion led by a competent instructor was what I craved every moment I had with this allegory.
I was prompted to read this after having recently finished The Dante Club, though mine was translated by Robert Pinsky rather than Longfellow. I did a few side-by-side comparisons of the two (I was not disappointed... but then, I don't speak Italian enough at all to know the difference). I made an extra effort to read a few commentaries and even created my own little "Nine Levels of Hell" flow chart, including "Environmental Conditions" and "Who You Might Find Here." I followed my husband's recommendation and eagerly used the Gustave Doré illustrations.
The workmanship of Inferno is magnificent. I was so entranced with the poetry once I realized that the Terza Rima pattern (ABA BCB CDC DED EFE...) is symbolic of the journey one takes through Hell.
It goes without saying that the influence of Dante’s work is ubiquitous. Besides the obvious works Inferno has pervaded like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Milton’s Paradise Lost, one can find reference to the different circles of Hell (especially the ninth) in hundreds (thousands?) of literary, musical and visual works.
But if there's anything worse than a Mitch Albom book, it's a Mitch Albom book set to music.
I didn't care for Tuesdays with Morrie-I found it sappy, melodramatic and emotionally molesting. During a lapse in judgement I decided to give Mr. Albom another shot by listening to The Five People You Meet in Heaven on CD while I was out and about running Christmas errands. I knew I was in trouble as soon as the countdown to the end of Eddie's life began. Each five minute increment was pronounced with a drumbeat and surge in the music: "Eddie's last half-hour" Buh dum. "Eddie's last fifteen minutes" Buh dum. "Eddie will be dead in thirty seconds" Buh dum.
When I wasn't rolling my eyes, I was laughing with contempt at the contrived relationships and the forced dialogue.
I know that Mr. Albom is trying to create a nice, feel-good way to encourage his audience to seize the day, to look for connections with the people in our lives, both close and distant. I appreciate his intentions, I really do. But his characters left me uninspired and his version of Heaven left me praying for a better reception for the time when I go towards the light.(less)
This philosophical book touting the benefits of not reading books one wants to discuss in order to access the full meaning is thought-provoking and mi...moreThis philosophical book touting the benefits of not reading books one wants to discuss in order to access the full meaning is thought-provoking and mind-bending. M. Bayard makes incredibly provocative arguments for his case and I found this work quite an enjoyable read.
Bayard's theories have cut me to the quick; He has called my bluff on many reasons why I read and brings up so many thoughts/issues I have felt regarding the urgency and necessity to read as many books as possible in this short life. His take is that I shouldn't. (Though I confirm I'm not swayed. Books are such an integral part of who I am, provide me with escapes to places unknown, and feed the gluttony of my mind, I couldn't possibly use them as simply a creative process for discussion.)
Most importantly, Bayard's thoughts are not new to me. He has simply continued a discussion began by my Professor of "The Russian Consciousness" from my college days. This excerpt is in perfect congruence with (my) Professor Fitzgerald's raison d'etre:
"Like collective inner books, individual inner books create a system for receiving other texts and participate both in their reception and their reorganization. In this sense, they form a kind of grid through which we read the world, and books in particular, organizing the way we perceive these texts while producing the allusion of transparency.
It is these inner books that make our exchanges about books so difficult, rendering it impossible to establish unanimity about the object of discussion. They are part of what I have called, in my study of Hamlet, an inner paradigm-a system for perceiving reality that is so idiosyncratic that no two paradigms can truly communicate.
The existence of the inner book, along with unreading or forgetting, is what makes the way we discuss books so discontinuous and heterogeneous. What we take to be the books we have read is in fact anomalous accumulation of fragments of texts reworked by our imagination and unrelated to the books of others, even if those books are materially identical to ones we have held in our hands (pp.85-86)."
*Note: Though I couldn't highly recommend this book to just anyone, I have thought seriously about using it for one of my book clubs. Once again, the women will cringe at my selection. Alas.(less)