Suspicious Minds by Rob Brotherton is an interest, slightly irreverent, study of what makes us believe what we all too often believe. From the harmless suspicious tendency to roll a pair of die gently in order to achieve a low number, to the paranoiac belief that the government is out to get you, to the all-encompassing conviction that interdimensional shape-shifting reptiles rule to the world - we all have some tendency towards superstition and belief in conspiracy theories. The why we believe what we believe can actually be more troubling and interesting than the what we believe. Unless it's dealing with interdimensional shape-shifting aliens. Those are probably the most creative.
See, the Queen's a reptilian. You can tell by the eyes.
Suspicious Minds may not have been as in-depth as I would have liked it to be, but it was still a very interesting book. The beginning is a brief history of conspiracy theories, meant to show that this style of thinking is endemic to the human condition rather than a more recent phenomenon bolstered by the internet and the now pervasive globalism. The history was fascinating, and at times mildly disturbing. I was especially thankful for the in-depth discussion of the Protocols of Zion after Dan Brown and Holy Blood, Holy Grail had popularized a new resurgence in belief that those are anything but a hoax. Hopefully this well-documented history of the forgery will put some of that to rest.
Following the history of conspiracy theories the book delves into what a conspiracy theory is exactly (and decides that an important facet of it is that it isn't and likely won't ever be proven) and then the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking. The bulk of the book is devoted to the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking and how every one of us is given to it to a certain extent.
The book is a good example of pop-science, without being erroneous. It's well-researched, intriguing, and would benefit greatly from a more in-depth bibliography in the back. I think that this is a good introduction to the subject overall - though perhaps the section regarding echo chambers was handled a bit more deftly by Jon Ronson in So, You've Been Publicly Shamed. It's still a valuable topic and an interesting book. I'm glad I read it....more
This book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their releaThis book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their release dates, I should add. It's a signed copy, which means it has a pretty ridiculous squiggle in it. So. There's that.
The actual book proved quite surprising. I didn't expect it to offer as in-depth as sociological analysis as it did. The book was littered with interesting information, extensive references to studies and papers that had been done, and generally fun anecdotes from the experiments that Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg did themselves.
If anyone has looked into these topics before there won't be a terribly great deal of new information. Passionate vs Companionate love forms the basis of a lot of the books arguments, which at least to me is always quite interesting. The particular views of technology are interesting as well - as for once technology isn't viewed as either universally good or bad but rather as a tool that can be properly utilized to gain good results. Nice.
Some of the information in the book was in Ansari's most recent stand-up routine, but it hasn't gotten old for me yet. I enjoyed the humor, and think that it translated well to the page. It forced me to do a few double-takes as I was reading, when a humorous aside jumped into more serious text. It only became grating once or twice, and far more often got a real laugh from me. The full color pictures were beautifully printed and jumped off the page. It was nice to have a book that integrated them into the pages rather than having a few glossy pages in the middle. Well worth the money.
So, if you like Aziz Ansari's stand-up as well as sociological kind of pop-sci texts you'll like this. It's a weird niche, but I'm sure some people occupy it with me....more
So, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh aSo, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh and I thought it might make a decent gag gift of sorts for a feminist friend. Of course, I needed to read the book before I passed it off. Only decent thing to do, isn't it?
I kind of wish I hadn't.
Generally I enjoy sociological tirades, however inflamed they are. I've a decent background in anthropology and I'm no stranger to strife between the sexes being decently examined. It can be interesting to view the more radical beliefs, though too often poor examples are used. It can be interesting to see what other people think, and in turn be made to view things from an alternative perspective. Even though I (foolishly?) believe I'm more open-minded than most I found this book to be ridiculous.
The examples Maureen Dowd set forth to defend her rather shaky slightly non-existent hypothesis seemed to apply more specifically to her own situation than to women in general. She talked about being called a bitch, about men writing to respond to her column more generally than women did, and about her own experiences working in DC. Women in politics and offering political commentary, it seems, are the same as women everywhere else. I can't help but think that area is a bit more specialized and more volatile than others for some reason...
In addition to this her hypothesis was unclear. She seemed at points to believe that women would be better off if men no longer existed - an entirely chapter was devoted to how the Y chromosone will be extinct in 10,000 to 10,000,000 years and how women will then TRULY rule the world - but then also noted how men are feminizing themselves and how that should be viewed as a victory. She bemoaned flirting in the office, but then discussed how it's insulting when men didn't flirt. It was very confusing.
At the end of this book I don't feel I really understand what it was setting out to be. It was just disorganized vitriol pointed at no one in particular. ...more
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for cWonderful book!
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for consumption. This book came as a delightful surprise. New Jon Ronson discussing something me and my boyfriend have recently been discussing on our own? Excellent!
So You've Been Publicly Shamed is an excellent foray into the dark world of the internet and how they take small things and immediately build them up into massive ordeals. What drives us to do this? How does it affect the person shamed? Should we really be doing this?
What set this book apart for me was the fact that the author interviewed not only those who were shamed but also those doing the shaming. He traced public humiliation as a for of prosecution back through the centuries and discovered how it affected those who were shamed. Is it effective? Is it not? How does a person get past this?
The answers were legitimately surprising in many cases, and naturally a great deal more complex than one would readily suspect. Personally, I found some of the conclusions of the book rather worrisome - in particular the ending and what it predicts for society.
This book drove home the need for civil discourse and for unpopular opinions. Living in an echo chamber is never a good thing....more
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous readSuch a beautiful book.
I first read this book in seventh grade, and although I enjoyed it I can't claim I really understood it. It was a gorgeous read then, and is a gorgeous one now. The story is a beautiful myth, an exploration of Buddhism and Hinduism that was written before either one was thoroughly understood by the West.
The introduction and the analysis offered at the beginning of the book both enhance the reading of the actual story, and reading Joseph Campbell I can even further understand the text itself. I think this is the sort of book that the more one reads it, the later in life one reads it, the more thoroughly it can be understood and appreciated.
I can't recommend this book enough, but I do know why everyone might not enjoy it....more
Can't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everCan't get enough of that textual criticism and early Christian history. Yeah, I know how that sounds. Nope, I don't care. I'll continue to litter everyone's update feeds with my occasional forays into these topics.
Zealot by Reza Aslan got ridiculously popular in a short period of time. I was reading arguments on the internet about its history and sources, hearing occasionally it being touted on popular television shows. It changed lives, or people claimed it did. They used it as an argument for the oft-repeated centurion hypothesis of paternity and other such poorly researched finds. It was inevitable I eventually read it, and lo and behold, the library just happened to have a copy sitting right there.
All in all, I actually enjoyed Zealot. I didn't find it as well researched as much of Bart D. Ehrman's works, nor as in depth. I nearly stopped reading when he argued that authorship wasn't necessarily worth questioning as people often wrote under other's names to imply they were further espousing their ideas (false) and that there was no definitive concept of history at the time (also false.) The idea that a lot of what was written would be known to be historically inaccurate and was meant as metaphor - that could gain better ground. The other two points though... we really need to excise them from our minds. They are patently untrue, and history just doesn't work that way.
Zealot shines not in its early bits, but far far later when his arguments come in about Jesus, his relation to Rome and Paul and James and their arguments for what early Christendom should mean. The book truly shone in the Pauline arguments and James refutation of them. The book would be good reading for anyone interested in Christianity, or simply Christian's themselves. It offers at once a more literal and metaphorical view of what was done, and a more concise view of what Jesus said and meant at the time in which he lived. Bart D. Ehrman's works are a better source of textual criticism, but Zealot was a better way to get a true feel for the history of the times and just how much the Jews went through during the Roman occupation.
The two authors, and their respective works, complement one another wonderfully and together offer a more comprehensive understanding of a vast and heated topic....more
I think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusionI think I got more out of this book by reading the extensive notes and introductions than by reading the book itself. The book was so full of allusions to political situations, changes in speech and text depending upon what was being mentioned, legitimate philosophical meanderings and religious commentary. Well, it was a piece of work.
I think it would be an easier read a second time around, bearing in mind all I learned from the first poke through it. It's one of those books you know you should read and contemplate, but doing so alone is a bit difficult. A bit like listening to a lecture and having your mind blown away - listen again, and you can begin to pick at the subtleties.
I do agree that the most fascinating bit about Utopia is the fact that there would be no way to enforce it had the structure not already been in place. Yes, it sounds great from the outset, but knowing freedom and having experienced this level of it (impinged upon as it may be these days) we'd not take too kindly to having it all stripped away. It truly is No Place as much as it may be a Good One (which can be thoroughly argued, seeing how flawed the system in place is.)
The commentary is great, the concepts novel at the time and still rather fresh now. Not to mention the dystopia genre does hinge upon this singular text, written and published so many years ago....more
Interesting book, and fascinating to see how little there is in common with the show. This is more of a sociological review than it is a prison narratInteresting book, and fascinating to see how little there is in common with the show. This is more of a sociological review than it is a prison narrative, and as such, can be a little bit dry or frustrating at times. It's still a good read and will go far to encouraging conversations about prison conditions, I think....more
I was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on justI was intrigued by this book originally when reading some criticism and praise of it. As a satire, the book sounded like an interesting attack on just about all of the Shakespeare arguments as well as our tendency as a culture to try to overanalyze things. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, the book didn't quite come off like that to me.
Is Shakespeare Dead didn't just come off as a misinformed argument in favor of Baconian authorship, but it also came off as just... a rushed and jumbled essay that never found its footing. By the time Mark Twain began to employ his comedic touch the exhaustive arguments and analyses had already soured me to the piece itself. It was just confusing and strange from beginning to end. I feel like I missed something somewhere along the line, but if I did, then a great many readers did over the years as well.
I'm open to arguments, though I am a Stratford supporter overall. This just wasn't even an argument as much as it was a flailing Mark Twain who couldn't make up his mind as to what narrative voice would best support the piece going forward....more
The Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness wheThe Dead Sea Scrolls are something that truly fascinate me. There's so much speculation about the community that wrote them, so much sheer oddness when it comes to what the Essenes believed and preached. It sheds new lights about just how different the religious communities were then.
This book goes into the history of the scrolls discovery, and what was known at the time of publication about the community that wrote them. It was a fascinating read, though of course now a bit out of date. I still would recommend it to anyone interested in the scrolls, as any information is still good information in my estimation. It was by no means a dry read....more
The content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largeThe content of this book was marvelous. It collected a series of Australian aboriginal folktales, transcribed from oral accounts. The low rating largely comes from my lack of background in that field and the difficulty I had with the language therein. A lot of native language was used, and although the words were defined in the glossary in the back, it was a trying experience constantly flipping through to attempt to garner a better understanding of the content.
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive abilAmazing book.
Steven M. Wise lays out the case for increased rights for animals from a scientific standpoint. Bit by bit he examines the cognitive ability of various animals (honeybees, dogs, great apes, birds, and cetaceans) in a rather rigorous and thorough way. He doesn't shy away from controversy (though he failed to bring up some of the questionable claims involving Koko) where it arises (especially in the case of the care of dolphins) and meets a lot of the questions that would be raised head-on.
While Steven M. Wise makes an excellent case for animal rights, he also acknowledges the trouble it will take to put those rights in place. He acknowledges and even postulates why people find it hard to grant rights to animals, and compares it rather compellingly to the trouble America had in granting both slaves and women increased rights in their respective times of emancipation.
Fascinating read, highly recommended to anyone and everyone who has ever loved a pet....more
It's more of a treatise than an actual book, and it is an incredibly quick read. It can be taken as a more modI actually thoroughly enjoyed this book.
It's more of a treatise than an actual book, and it is an incredibly quick read. It can be taken as a more modern view of On Bullshit, and owes a lot to the previous book (as it says) but it easily stands on its own as well. If you're looking for an interesting psychological study of manipulation, here it is. If you're looking for something a lot deeper and involved? Well, you'll have to look elsewhere.
The Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the bThe Canterbury Tales is one of those books often mentioned in any survey of classic literature, and certainly with good reason. The structure of the book itself (stories within stories) predates A Midsummer Night's Dream rather notably and Geoffrey Chaucer is with necessity a force of wit to be reckoned with.
Geoffrey Chaucer's writing still seems fresh, and more of the stories in this collection hold up to the passing of time rather than fall flat from it. The snippets of the original poetry included in quotes make me want to read it in the original, in spite of what difficulties there may be, and the notes in the back helped expediate understanding when the language did get confusing.
Chaucer's social commentary was hilarious, and his characters were all rather notable. His use of doggerel for humor was extremely effective, and his views towards women's rights remarkable for their time. Hell, The Wife of Bath's prologue regarding men is still rather remarkable to read.
All in all, an excellent collection and one I look forward to reading again....more
I won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite cI won this book from a giveaway a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. This collection of short-stories was very well written, and quite compelling. As the title implies, the book revolved around issues of the Jewish religion, history, and identity.
Not being Jewish myself, I was unfamiliar with some of the traditions that the book discussed. Nevertheless, some of the stories were rather universal and did speak to me. In particular, I enjoyed the story about the Author, the title story, and the story about the camp.
The stories were very well written, and I was torn between giving it three and four stars, but ultimately decided upon three as the book didn't quite strike me as amazing. I did enjoy it, it just wasn't precisely to my own taste. Others, I know, would quite love it....more
This is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
TheThis is the sort of book that more people need to read. Timothy K. Beal is the reasonable sort of person who needs to speak out about Christianity.
The first two thirds of the book are divided into a brief history of Christianity itself, and more interestingly, a history of the Bible. Timothy K. Beal takes the time to dissuade any reader of the Dan Brown styled notions that things are cut and dry, and instead explains the lack of consistency throughout the Bibles many incarnations. This is fascinating stuff, and moreover, it is important stuff to know when people tend to be hardlining notions that The Bible Says X when it reality that may not be the case.
The final third of the book is spent discussing how one can move forward with the knowledge they have. Like Bert Ehrman or even Karen ArmstrongTimothy K. Beale takes the time to explain that turning anyone to atheism is not the message of his work. If it happens, it happens, but nothing is explicitly stated within his piece that says God is Dead. Rather, the book is a celebration on the lack of a univocal Bible and a reminder that one can peel back the layers of these books to make their own meaning.
This book is a throwback to the deeply intellectual religions that Karen Armstrong celebrated and Bert Ehrman spends so much time focusing on. These are the intellectuals who find that knowledge itself is a form of worship and questioning the very basis of life. Some things don't require clean-cut answers, and for may things answers do not exist.
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This timeI won this book through the first-reads program.
Once more, Jon Ronson delivers a well-researched, entertaining look at the world around us. This time around the topics range from Indigo Children, to celebrities accused of pedophilia. There are essays on alien encounters, as well as people driven to murder-suicide, and the disparity between those in the highest economic bracket and those in the lowest. It's truly an amazing mix.
I found the ending of the book a bit abrupt, but aside from that the book was marvelous. Jon Ronson is a journalist, and a master at his craft. He makes the reader think, and question, and that is the most anyone could ever ask....more
I received this book through the first-reads program.
This is not a book that I ever would have picked up to read. The premise is that a seventeen yearI received this book through the first-reads program.
This is not a book that I ever would have picked up to read. The premise is that a seventeen year old girl, living with her abusive parents in the backwoods of New Hampshire, is trying to live her life. The subject of abuse is extremely heavy, the subject of poverty is heavy as well. The book is dark - extremely dark. The book is also incredible.
The heavy topics are dealt with deftly and unflinchingly. The language of the book, both the broken speech of Marjorie's abusive family and the actual narration, is plain fantastic. I found myself unable to put the book down, in spite of how difficult some of it was to read.
If you've even a remote interest in this ook, read it. I would venture to say that this book could rival Jodi Picoult's popular novels. She writes about this sort of thing, right? I just have to say, I found this book fantastic and I normally don't read this sort of thing. That has to be some kind of grand recommendation....more
I previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to cI previously read Robert Lacey's first and second installment in his Great Tales of England which I also reviewed here. I was mildly disappointed to come across many of such tales in the reading of this book, and the tales worded as similarly as they were in the books I've read, but what can one truly expect? It makes sense for the tales to serve as summations of larger books, after all. At he very least I respect his retelling of Canute bringing his throne to the shore. Promoting the correct 'full' version of the tale and its moral (that the power of a king is limited by that of nature and god) is worth however many times it needs to be retold so people will stop using it to illustrate kingly arrogance. It's a disservice to Canute's memory.
Anyway, the book is divided by month, complete with the illustrations from the Julian calender and each illustration is explained within the chapter. The result is a very good look at the year 1,000 and how little it differs from where we are now. Human nature hasn't changed that much, and Robert Lacey is quite good at showing the human side of things. He acknowledges that the analogies are not perfect - in particular when it comes to medical acumen - but at the same time it's heartening to see just how lusty and ridiculous people were... and still are. The riddles were a particularly nice touch.
So, to sum it all up, this is a very good overview, though I wouldn't use it as a primary resource. I shall leave you with this riddle from over 1,000 years ago:
I am a strange creature, for I satisfy women... I grow very tall, erect in a bed, I'm hairy underneath. From time to time A beautiful girl, the brave daughter Of some fellow dares to hold me Grips my reddish skin, robs me of my head And puts me in the pantry. At once that girl With plaited hair who has confined me Remembers our meeting. Her eye moistens.
So, what's the answer?
Yeah, the other riddle they included was even worse. Now I'm just waiting for one of you to ask me to type it up. ...more
I won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman comingI won this book through the GoodReads first-reads program.
I've read previous books on topics such as education reform, the work of Neil Postman coming most immediately to mind along with Daniel Pink, but none that quite looked at it the way that Paul Tough did. This book examined the importance of character and how good parents and good teachers can bring out the best attributes in the children they work with.
Examining low income schools and the way that poverty affects success Paul Tough lays out what he believes would be the best course to take to break the cycle that too many children get sucked into. While it's too in depth to truly examine in a review, I do believe that teachers should at least peruse this book to perhaps take some advice away from it all. This is a complex and contentious issue, and an ever increasing one.
At the very least, this book could start a conversation between teachers as to what is to be done, perhaps it could even point them towards a good solution?...more
I won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While thI won this book from the GoodReads first-reads program.
Parmy Olson did a good job of summing up the social aspect of the Anonymous community. While this book may not satisfy the desire for technical explorations of the internet and what goes into subverting it, for us non-technical folk I believe this book did a very fine job. The prose was quick and easy to read, the details intricate and interesting. All in all this played out rather not unlike a playful action film that in its second third began rushing towards the inevitable conclusion......more
This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history.This was a very accessible volume. The book is divided into short stories, chronologically for the most part, about the characters that make history. Legend is treated firmly, but sympathetically, and everywhere that primary sources can be quoted they certainly are.
I found this book both entertaining and informative. The bibliography in the back was quite extensive, and I was rather happy to see that it included some of the books that I've been using for reference.
I'd recommend this to anyone with even an inkling of historical curiosity, as I do believe that it would be a good "gateway" book to get people in a scholarly mind. I've the next two books in the series as well, so here's looking to more history....more
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter AckroydThis book was truly extraordinary.
I was looking for an in-depth history of London, and I certainly found it between this book's covers. Peter Ackroyd truly did write a biography of London, from its sprawling streets to its strange citizens. His writing is fluid, and fascinating to read; his use of primary sources is utterly astounding, and somewhat maddening, as the cockney can be a bit hard on the eyes.
Peter Ackroyd's book is told in a very loose chronology. While the 'story' begins with prehistory, and ends in the 80s, not much in this book is linear. He makes London timeless, and turns the city into the icon that it is today. The emphasis of the text is upon how little things have changed, even while London is destroyed and rebuilt cyclically. The essence of the city can be found in the hospitals raised upon the sites of druidic wells, the very wells that the Victorians later claimed had healing capabilities.
The triumph of this text is not in the traditional dates and names of rulers, battles, and the like... rather, the triumph is in the fact that it focuses upon the citizens of the empire. Reading this book, you will learn about the conditions of the jails, what Londoner's favorite pasttimes were, how the role of women changed, and how London assimilates the immigrants. You'll read about how little Cockney has changed from the 1500s, and how London's taste for the theatrical existed before Shakespeare came on the scene.
After reading this book, I feel that I have learned more about London than I have from the World History courses I've taken. Peter Ackroyd has an eye for what's importance, and brings this city of commerce, violence, and theater to life in a way that no one else has.