Got a Book Suggestion? October 22, 2010

Got a Book Suggestion?

Seth Godin, as he always tends to do, points out the obvious and makes you think:

I got a note from someone the other day, in which she made it clear that she doesn’t read non-fiction books or blogs related to her industry. And she seemed proud of this.

I was roped into an argument with someone who was sure that ear candling was a useful treatment. Had he read any medical articles on the topic? No. But he knew. Or said he did.

You see a lot of ostensibly smart people in airports, and it always surprises me how few of them use this downtime to actually become more informed. It’s clearly a deliberate act — in our infoculture, it takes work not to expose yourself to interesting ideas, facts, news and points of view…

Not all books are correct or useful. Not all accepted science is correct. The conventional wisdom might just be wrong. But ignoring all of it because the truth is now fashionably situational and in the eye of the beholder is a lame alternative.

That’s why I love reading blogs and the comments on this page. You all keep me on my toes, help me stay informed, and make me question whatever I’m thinking.

I’m at the point where I can’t have real conversations with people who don’t read books or know what’s going on in the world. It’s just too frustrating. I don’t have to agree with you, but we have to be able to debate a certain topic, right? It’s hard to do that with someone who brings no ammo to the battle.

Seriously, I know time is hard to come by, but how do people not read?!

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  • rbray18

    i read on the net a lot,but it’s easy to avoid reading books,i like reading them,but i like video games movies and music more and being poor i rarely have money to spend as it is.
    libraries are a no go cause i have a very over due book or 2 at memory far as stuff goes is not yeah avoiding books not that hard.


    I have a close friend who is almost 39 years old. He has NEVER read a book in his adult life.

    He is FOREVER asking questions about how things work, where things are or what happened somewhere … His opinions are based ENTIRELY on the scraps of news reports he catches.

    I cannot understand how someone CANNOT read. he claims he has no patience to do so …. But for me its is borderline UNNATURAL! 😮

  • NewEnglandBob

    I read about one non-fiction book a week, physics, atheism, biology, evolution and some miscellaneous topics. I also subscribe and follow 53 blogs (1900 articles/month) and read discover magazine. I have pretty much given up TV watching (about 4 hours/week). I don’t understand how people can not read and learn and expand their mind.

  • Kamaka

    Get rid of the TV. That frees up all kinds of reading time.

  • Michelle

    I can’t imagine not reading all the time. I’m one of those people who drags books with me wherever I go so if there is some time stuck on an elevator or waiting for someone – anything – there will be more time for me to read. With Kindel on my phone there is now even more access.
    However, because the excess of information it is easy to feel informed when you are really being misinformed (faux “news” for example) It was amazing to me how much people defended O’Donell for her misunderstanding of the 1st amendment.

  • Liz

    When i was younger, like from when i learned to read through high school, i read alllll the time. especially in middle school, that’s about all I did. Now I am always so exhausted and I just can’t seem to get through a book.

    I constantly start books, get halfway through and then forget about finishing them…fiction and non-fiction. I guess that’s better than not reading at all though?

  • Hitch

    I don’t have TV. I sense a pattern here…

  • “No time” is a BS excuse not to read! I admit it, I’m a snob and if someone is proud of not reading, I just think they’re lazy and not very bright. C’mon, everyone spends at least a few minutes a day in the bathroom – keep a book there and multi-task! 🙂

  • I read all the time, mostly nonfiction, and 99% of my reading material comes from the library. It’s free!

  • Deiloh

    My husband doesn’t read. He says I read so much and download onto him that he doesn’t have to. Funny guy.

  • Richard P.

    I guy I know boasts the only book he has every read is a repair manual for a Norton motorbike. Each time he says it I shake my head. I always wonder how you can choose to be so ignorant and be proud of it.

  • I love to read. I’ve always enjoyed fiction, especially fantasy and science fiction, but I’ve been reading more non-fiction recently. Science and history are especially fascinating to me.

  • Angel

    I actually can’t fathom having a conversation with someone who said they didn’t read or keep up to date on current events. I would probably wind up saying something rude out of pure shock that I wasn’t being put on. And then I’d say something even ruder once I had come to terms with the fact that I was face to face with someone who enjoyed being willfully ignorant.

    (and I wonder why I don’t have legions of friends)

  • This goes for some of the more fanatical religious folks too, unfortunately — all too often it seems that people don’t even know the material they’re going around parroting to everyone else.

  • I’ve been reading online for years, and the majority of my informational reading is done that way. When I read a book, it’s to escape, to be in another world, and I’m constantly reading fiction. Non-fiction rarely holds my interest in a book format (Carl Zimmer did change that a bit), but in small doses online I have no problems.

    Also, regarding current events and debating topics and such…I really dislike discussing those in conversations with people. I will talk about it if it comes up but I don’t require it of others. So long as someone has something to say that doesn’t bore me then I’m peachy.

    A few close friends of mine don’t like to read and I don’t hold it against them. I don’t understand as I’ve loved books since a young age, but it has nothing to do with whether we’re friends or how much time we spend together.

  • Richard L

    Answering the title of the post:
    “How to Find a Habitable Planet” by James Kasting, a really smart guy trained by Pollack (one of Sagan’s grad students) and prominent on the subject.

    It discusses the climate on the large rocky planets of our solar system (Venus, earth and Mars). It also discusses what we (that is; the best of science) think is necessary for life. You’ll get to know the evolution of earth’s climate, our solar system, and dwell in foreign worlds and stars while you’re at it.

    It’s a great read to get a grip of our current understanding of climate And at the same time get some perspective on life and the universe we live in. All in the fashion of current research and understanding.

  • bigjohn756

    I cannot understand how people go through life not reading. I have a friend who read all of the time until she had brain surgery. Now, she can’t concentrate long enough to comprehend. She really misses reading. I can sympathize. I have read voraciously all of my life. I began at three never stopped for long.
    I just got a Kindle and I like it a lot. I keep all kinds of books on it(about 100) to satisfy any reading mood I happen to be in. I just finished reading a Pratchett book on it. Now, I have to decide what to read next. Maybe I’ll switch to one of the old fashioned kinds made from a tree, just for a change. Decisions, decisions…

  • One might think that ignorance would be more fragile in this information age, but it’s remarkably robust among people who wear their blinders twenty-four hours a day. In my case, I am quite ignorant about sports because I have no interest in it and I “tune out” when people or media start babbling about it. Still, I can’t help but know that the SF Giants are playing a bunch of supposedly super-important games right now. [Yawn]

    The most amazing (to me, anyway) case of impervious ignorance was a boss I had back in the late eighties. She didn’t know who Carl Sagan was. Just imagine everything she had to tune out (Johnny Carson, Nova, Cosmos, NY Times bestseller list, comic strip lampoons, SNL parodies) to be unaware of his existence. Utterly amazing.

    Of course, it was kind of fun when I got to tell Sagan about it.

  • cat

    I generally do not read full length non-fiction books. I tend more towards scholarly articles, journals, and other short pieces, or articles from anthologies. I probably have not sat down an read an entire nonfiction book by one author (as opposed to an anthology), in years. I find the notion that full length nonfiction books are the best way to educate oneself about a topic rather dubious. In the time you could spend reading a five hundred page book written by one person, you could read fifty scholarly articles from fifty different perspectives. The latter is very helpful in keeping yourself from becomming attached to one view before you have listened to the others or from having a skewed notion of what common and accepted views in the field are. It is easier than ever now to read scholarly work, because many works and journals are also published online.

    I do read full length fiction books. But, I have been on the receiving end of that ‘lengthy novels are for smart people’ condecension when buying manga or young adult books in general bookstores. When I read Imperial Earth by Clarke in the morning and Naruto in the evening, only one of those is seen as indicitive of my love of reading and of intellegence. As someone who has hated most of the literary ‘classics’ I have ever read, but has always had an extremely high reading level, I find that there is a lot of snobbery about the value of what a person read in terms of fiction as well.

  • A great atheist fiction novel is “The Angelic Heritage” by Jay Elwood Seymour ::wink::

  • minus

    I recently heard the host on an extremely popular podcast say that he did not have time to read a book that someone recommended. Later in the program, he got into a heated argument with another host about which was the better of two TV programs.

    As someone said earlier, I think I see a pattern here.

  • Mr Z

    Well, you don’t have to read books to keep up with what is going on in the world. Really, there is no excuse for being uninformed about important matters… so it comes down to what you think is important. I don’t have much in common with most people. They care about sports or reality tv… meh

    I just can’t hold much of a convo with sheeple

  • Moose

    I read on average 20 to 30 books per year-roughly two per month.

    I always strive to mix them up-mankind cannot live by fantasy alone!

    Working on “The Greatest SHow on Earth” at the moment and will probably tackle “Canal Dreams” by Iain Banks next-need a short(ish) fictional read after the marathon that is Dawkins’s masterwork.

    “Rox1SMF Says:
    “No time” is a BS excuse not to read! “

    I agree 100%-do most of my reading in bed before falling asleep. Besides, waking up with your reading light on and a book still in hand beats waking up on the couch watching Benny Hinn anyday…

  • for this crowd? that one requires some serious thought.

    ok. thought agrees: “the gate to women’s country.” a bit too het for my tastes, but still, as we speculative folk call it: “the blueprint.” read it today. it won’t take long, it’s short. soon, i won’t be able to post or talk about it, and you won’t be able to find it. don’t be angry about she suggests, either. it’s not a project directed in egoistic bigotry. we just need to change some… ratios.

  • Zac

    I’d suggest the “Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series to anyone with a sense of humour.

  • Atom Jack

    RichardP, I think it is an inverse snobbery that people claim not to read at all. Just look at most of the religious, who have little basis in their own one “good book”…and proud of it.

    With all the electronic entertainment out there now, I still have spawn who read books. That’s because I set the example- reading books myself, and to them when they were small. Good times! Jolly Peter Rabbit books, for example, before bedtime, etc.

    I personally read (read- “study”) mathematical logic and physics texts still, after graduating over 25 years ago. Also, a lot of SciFi in the Niven&Pournelle and Greg Benford genre- “hard” SF that has a truly plausible basis in the sciences. Also, woodworking books, woodworking’s my avocation.

    And television? Don’t get me started. If I wasn’t married, there wouldn’t even be a television in the house. Talk about a vast electronic wasteland! I didn’t own one when I got married, my wife had to get one to watch.

  • Nakor

    I read a lot, though to be fair only a small selection of my readings tends to be non-fiction. Then again, I’m trying to eventually get fantasy published, so for me, fiction novels aren’t necessarily unrelated to my future career goals. >.>

    There was recently, however, one non-fiction novel I read that I’d recommend to pretty much any reader here; one which I only read thanks to it showing up in my reading list of ENGL111 (Non-Fictional Prose) at UBC. It’s Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments. It’s an autobiography (despite his statement otherwise) about how he grew up in a fundamentalist household, slowly grew away from his father’s beliefs, and eventually broke free of it altogether. But more importantly, it’s respectful of the father (if not his opinions) throughout, and does a surprisingly good job of painting a picture of what fundamentalism can do to a person; the father is almost pitied by the book at points rather than ridiculed, such as when the father attempts to reconcile his faith with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. The epilogue reminded me of a lot of the letters you see Richard answer here.

    Oh, yeah… I suppose I should mention that this is a guy breaking away from his parents’ fundamentalist beliefs in the 19th century; when I say the father was struggling with reconciling his faith with Darwin’s theory, we’re talking (very shortly) before Darwin got that theory published. Oh, and because this book is that old, it’s free (public domain).

  • I’m one of those who can’t imagine not reading all the time. I started before I was even able to read, all the time begging my parents to read books to me. When I started kindergarten the only reason I wanted to go was to learn to read. The stupid teachers wouldn’t teach me to read, they only wanted me to watch The Letter People (I could already quote entire episodes of the show) and write my name… BORing. I ended up teaching myself to read that year (with help from my parents).

    Since then I’ve always had a book with me. I often am reading two or three books at a time. (Currently reading Dan Barker’s “Godless”, re-reading Asimov’s Foundation series, and reading Clark’s “The Last Theorm”.) I also read lots of blogs and news sites. (This is in addition to an embarrassing amount of TV that I watch.)

    I’m sure that this has been one of the main factors in my finding the truth about Christianity and theism (that it isn’t true). If I was content to accept was was told me then I’d still be deluded.

  • Tim

    There’s nothing wrong with TV, this isn’t a PTA meeting people. I seek out books I’m interested in, go on binge reading sessions usually finishing about 3 books a week for a month or two, read multiple blogs and news sources, along with some well-deserved TV and video games. All that, fit in between school and work.

  • Daniel

    Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman

    Armageddon satire.

  • gwen

    I love to read. I can’t imagine a world where I could not read. I have a Nook and read from it every bit of down time I get. Mostly, I read non-fiction. Right now, I am reading ‘Home’, by Bill Bryson. My last book was ‘Packing for Mars’…great book!

  • Beauzeaux

    My husband and I both read all the time. I have a Kindle. I also get books from the library. I download audio books from the library and from to listen to when I’m driving or cooking or doing something else that keeps me from reading.

    We also watch TV. Fortunately we have TiVo so we only watch stuff we really like. Without TiVo I’d watch hardly anything at all.
    I prefer nonfiction. Right now I’m reading “The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Forces in World War II.” Fascinating. I’m going through a heavy World War II phase…

  • Hitch

    Talking about Terry Pratchett, I’d recommend “Small Gods” to any non-believer, actually anybody really.

  • I read the cereal box if I don’t have a book. Sadly it isn’t that interesting.

    To answer the title I’d suggest American Gods by Neil Gaiman for fiction and Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer and, of course, A Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. If you really want to show off though then get a book to read and an audio book at the same time. LibriVox make them available for free.

  • Pali

    I have absolutely nothing but anecdotal evidence to support this… but I find that the medium is fairly irrelevant – it’s the quality of ideas that you’re digesting that enriches the mind. I spend time every day reading the newspaper, numerous blogs and news sources online, watching certain TV shows that I enjoy, and playing video games – but unlike many, I don’t see the latter two as that different from the former when it comes to the ability to convey ideas in thoughtful ways.

    I agree that lots of TV is garbage… but lots of everything is garbage. Lots of books are garbage – there is nothing special about being a book that guarantees that there’s anything of worth inside (take the Bible, for instance). I’ve had moments in video games that have impacted me more on a moral or emotional level than anything I’ve ever experienced from a book due to the interactive nature of the medium making it really feel like it was me involved; growing up I learned a great deal from video games like Number Crunchers or a Discovery Channel game that I can’t recall the name of but involved working through a maze by learning about history, art, and science to answer the questions and move on – again, in my experience, the interactive medium helped keep my mind engaged and focused on the content, far more than I’m usually able to focus on more scholarly books or articles.

    The unique problems of TV and video games that I don’t think many people have recognized and put thought into dealing with is that these mediums appeal to our psyche in different ways than the printed word – TV and games are sensory feasts, with sounds and sights that are designed to have great impact on their own. The printed word has to rely entirely on the content to engage the mind – the other mediums do not, and this has encouraged laziness amongst producers of those mediums because they can still make money without pouring too much thought into their product.

    Because of the combination of greater psychological appeal and lessened standards required for commercial success, people’s heads tend to be pumped full of crap by the more extravagant mediums. However, that doesn’t stop those mediums from having value – I have little interest in most Comedy Central shows, but I would argue that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report regularly have a great deal of intellectual content worthy of time and consideration (hell, even occasional episodes of South Park do).

  • Neither my wife nor I can understand how people don’t read. I always find it humorous (and not in a good way) when someone asks me “how I know all this ‘stuff'”; when I tell them I read, and point to our vast personal library, their eyes seem to glaze over, as if to say “isn’t there an easier way?”…

    My wife watches a bit of TV online; I watch the occasional show when I am really bored, or just want to “zone out” – but mostly, we read! We also both like fiction audiobooks (two of the best: Tim Dorsey’s “Triggerfish Twist”, and Christopher Priest’s “The Prestige”). Still sitting down (or laying down) and reading – ahh, there’s real pleasure.

    Right now, I am reading Rita Carter’s “Mapping the Mind”; after that I intend to read Cosmos (never got around to it, despite knowing of it since I was a kid!). My favorite fiction I’ve read so far this year has been Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth”. At some point I plan to read Minsky’s “Society of Mind”…

    We can’t fathom why people don’t want to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world; its even more worrisome when they look askance at us for referencing something which they should’ve learned in high school, if not earlier – like our knowledge is suspect or something.

    Like we’re part of some kind of elite, liberal, intelligentsia conspiracy (oh, if only – life might be a tad easier – or at least more exciting!)…

  • Charles

    Anathem by Neal Stephenson.

  • I have problems reading…I’m very slow and it tires me out. I have read one book in 20 years and it took me almost a year and a half. I kept it on my PDA so I could pull it out and read it wherever I was. I can’t understand how people can read a book a week or even a book a month. I have tried audiobooks, but I can’t work on the computer with someone talking in my ear. I have watched about an hour of TV in the last month (if you don’t include video podcasts like TED talks and I’ve only seen a few of those recently) and I don’t have any games or game machines that I play. I barely made it out of high school, and I haven’t been to college because of this reading disability. I try to read a little of everything online to keep up with current events. I listen to podcasts where I hear authors interviewed about their books, so I have a pretty good idea of what the book is about and I can get into a conversation about the topic. I have tried speed reading techniques, but that only helps people who can read at normal speeds. I’m glad there are people who can keep up with all the books.

    I heard about ear candling years ago when someone I knew was using it. I didn’t need to read a whole book on the subject to have an instinct that it was bogus and it only took a few minutes of using Google to find out that it was dangerous.

  • Meanie

    I have a relative who claims the only book she reads is the bible (and I seriously doubt she’s read it completely). she is impossible to have a conversation with. I yearn for the days when my advanced degree work is finished and I can again read for pleasure. for now I listen to books during my commute. does that count?

  • JD

    For books, I read fiction and comedy. I buy technical books too, but I get the pieces of information that I need and then I don’t need it for a while.

    The problem I have with books about a political, religious (or anti-religious) or social agenda is that they seem to have about ten to twenty pages worth of content, and 180 pages of anecdotes to reinforce the content. I just get the feeling most of these books are about getting a buck and little else. Too often, I find I don’t get out of this kind of book what the back cover says is there, so it’s easy to get disillusioned.

    A book is often one person telling me what they think, but without discussion. Blogs offer that discussion. And blogs can be updated any time, once a book is published, that’s it, unless there is a second edition years later.

  • JB Tait

    From the opinions they express, I sometimes wonder if those who claim the loudest to be people of Faith read even their own Holy book. There seems to be something about faith that makes them less likely to want to learn anything new (with the possible exception of gossip about celebrities) and more likely to think that what they were told as little children is enough. Is it a mind set, inborn, or how they were taught?

    With this in mind, instead of teaching the wee ones to read from “Dick and Jane”, it might be more effective to start them off with an introduction to the scientific method, and testing what they believe to be true. Teach them reading from books that tell them about how the world works, and as soon as they have a grasp of arithmetic, introduce them to practical math. I don’t know how anyone can get through life without knowing how to draw a right angle, compute percentage, or calculate area, yet I have friends who are actually proud of this ignorance.

    There is something else that non-readers often lack that schools could remediate. Many, if not most of them, don’t have any awareness of how things are designed, created, and produced, little knowledge of where their food comes from, no appreciation of how much effort others put in to bring them even seemingly simple items (like toilet paper, water, TV shows), how much infrastructure is silently supporting their way of life and the like. Could it be that their faith that “God will provide” because they believe in Him makes them expect to be given what they should be working for?

  • muggle

    I cannot imagine a day without reading!

    I am addicted to reading and always have been. Before they taught me to read in school, I was making up stories for my little sisters and managing the comic strips and headlines in the local paper. Yes, headlines. I remember thinking JFK was “cute” (meaning handsome in 4 yo talk). No wonder I’m so damned political now.

    I’m a bookworm and always have been. My grandson is already too. My daughter will not read an entire book. Can’t get her to.

    Music is her obsession and what she’ll spend the time I spend reading on. She does do FB but not blogs and rarely reads even an article unless someone really shows her to. She’s in college and that has helped as she had to read for that and some English classes actually introduced her to some essays and short fiction that actually excited her and she had to share with me. It was nice. I think she relies on me and her friends and occassionally the news when I leave it running on TV for information but this does mean what she isn’t learning in school is woefully below par.

    We talk about all the shit I read (including this blog 🙂 ) but that means I have to tell her about it. She is starting to pick up stuff from FB and college friends and ask if I’ve heard about such and such and I must say I like it. I like not having to be the one to always tell her about things.

    The grandson eats it all up: books, music, TV, video games, anything that can fill his senses with information and stimulate his brain. Have I mentioned that he’s got my personality down the line? I don’t listen to music as much as I did when I was young but I love books, blogs, FB, magazines, newsletters, articles, TV, and video games.

    My grandson eagerly reads and loves to talk about it and ask questions about what he comes across in books or anything he watches or listens to or overhears people say. It’s great. He will come out with questions about something he’s heard and I will take quite often say let’s google it and he gets a grin when I do. We’ve looked up several things and looked at several of the links for every one that we have.

    Speaking of googling, I had to google ear candling. That’s just plain fucking insane regardless. Common sense would seem to say no fucking way.

    I think people who brag about not watching TV display as much ignorant snobbery as people who brag about not reading. (As opposed to not reading or watching TV because they really just don’t enjoy it.) Sure there’s a lot of garbage on TV but there’s good content too and informative. Faux News and the deplorable condition of TV news aside, it still is a way to get some idea of what’s going on in the world. And there are shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” that have excellent content and even a couple of sitcoms that are great and reflective of our changing society.

    I also love watching the small claims court shows because the law fascinates me and it’s as Judge Milian of “People’s Court” says about small claims, “It’s not about the money; it’s always about the principal.” She’s right and even those obviously in the wrong think they’re right. It’s not just the law’s workings that are interesting but the human psyche of both sides. You can’t make up some of the stuff they come up with either to sue or to defend themselves. I watch “Judge Joe Brown”, “People’s Court” and “Judge Judy” every day, largely because these are the three TV judges I truly respect as they stick to the law but are interesting because they cut through the bull and get into the bottom of the dramatizing going on.

    That’s why I love reading blogs and the comments on this page. You all keep me on my toes, help me stay informed, and make me question whatever I’m thinking

    And that’s what keeps me coming back here. Not just that you find interesting things to blog about but that you have a wide variety of (for the most part) well-informed commenters who parry different points of view. It’s interesting and we learn a lot from each other.

  • Angel

    A book that I really enjoyed and suspect this crowd might like as well is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I recommend anything by Moore, actually.

    I also recommend Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.

    And for anyone who loves Douglas Adams, in addition to the Guide, I also suggest reading Salmon of Doubt.

    The Ricky Gervais podcasts are also a must. I don’t care who you are, you need to know who Karl Pilkington is. My husband and I listened to all of them (they are a few years old now) on a marathon roadtrip and there were many times we had to pull off the road because we were laughing too hard to drive.

  • Karen

    This is the problem I have when trying to socialize with my old church friends and religious relatives.

    They are So. Damn. Ignorant.

    They spend all their time reading the bible, listening to radio preachers and studying theology that’s spoon fed them from their own evangelical circles.

    I wind up making small talk, discussing old times or chatting about other friends and relatives. I can take it for about an hour or so and then I’m done.

    They simply cannot discuss current events or real-world issues because they’re either uninformed or uninterested, sad to say, the women especially so. It boggles the mind.

  • Samantha

    eh, the whole “I don’t have time to read” is largely BS imho. When I worked 40 hours a week, commuted an extra 10+ and made dinner nearly every night, I still read about one book every few weeks. Whenever someone says they don’t have time to read (especially when its followed by comments regarding the latest episode of the jersey shore) I have to stop myself from verbally slapping them.

    Reading is wonderful – I love to read about basically anything. I never feel like I know enough about the world.

    A good suggestion? Read The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene for a wonderfully detailed book about physics (everything from the concept of spacetime to M-theory) written so that just about anyone can understand it. For fiction, I love Haruki Murakami and I recommend any books of his whenever I am presented with the opportunity.

  • I enjoy reading about religion from a psychological and sociological perspective. These three books were engaging and informative:

    Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement by Kathryn Joyce

    Society without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment by Phil Zuckerman

    Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling by Robert Kunzman

    Hemant’s mentioned them on the blog several times, too, so I think they would especially appeal to this crowd. More suggestions here and here.

  • Jesse

    I’m also one of those who cannot understand people who do not read. I mean, what are you going to do when you’re not reading? Whittle a club and invent the wheel?

    I am an avid reader of non-fiction. To be more specific, I love to read things which attempt to uncover or otherwise clarify some enduring truth, like works about biology, physics, philosophy, and mathematics and formal logic. I sometimes dabble in the great body of writings on transient matters, such as recent events around the world, but this is happening less and less over the years, because it seems rather obvious to me that journalism as a discipline is evaporating into nothing but hot air.

    I am not much of a fiction fan. This is no slight against the writers, but rather a slight against my culture. I grew up believing in some stupendously stupid fiction and this discovery has left a bad taste in my mouth that seems to be permenant. Most people read fiction because they want to be transported into another world, but I have already been in another world and I like it here just fine. I read non-fiction because I want to delve deeper into the real world. With every attempt I have made to read fiction, I find myself thinking that what I’m reading is just distracting me from some good non-fiction.

    I am a moderate fan of some television. I can enjoy watching almost anything on Discovery Channel, perhaps intermixed with brief moments of Cartoon Network. I use my television about three hours a week, where about half of the time I am just listening to it. (The background noise helps me sleep.) You know what sucks though? Finding that you rolled onto the remote control in your sleep as you wake up to a televangelist telling you that will be set on fire in the afterlife and you deserve it. I don’t know about you, but that really gets my goat and sacrifices it. It makes me rather grumpy, mumbling sarcastic things like, “Well good morning to you too, sunshine.”

    As for a book suggestion, I pick “The System of Nature” by Baron d’Holbach. It’s the one that woke me from my intellectual slumber. It’s an old work (1770s) in the public domain, so you can find it on Project Gutenberg. Some of his argument has been discredited by recent advances in science, but he offers common sense with exquisite prose, and even many of his antiquated arguments can be brought into agreement with modern science with only small adjustments.

  • Queenie

    I rarely read novels nowadays (I’m literally too tired to read them), but I love reading. I read on the internet, I read comics, magazines, cereal boxes, etc. When I’m watching tv or movies, I always put the captions/subtitles on. (Which is why I LOVE foreign films) I think us readers, however, need to be careful not to come off as elitist. We are not better or smarter than people who don’t read as much as we do. It’s not fair to judge people just because they are different from us. Some people are not good at reading (which can correlate with not enjoying reading) and prefer to listen in order to get their information. There is nothing wrong with that. Whatever floats your boat, I say.

  • Queenie

    For people trying to get kids to read, I would highly recommend video games, magazines, and comic books. The kids have fun and don’t even realize that they are learning.

  • Moose

    Angel Says:
    October 23rd, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    A book that I really enjoyed and suspect this crowd might like as well is Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I recommend anything by Moore, actually.

    I’d forgotten than one! Easilly one of the funniest novels written about Jesus!

    I see as of late he’s been expanding his Vampire series-but one of my favorites from his past is “A Dirty Job”-to summarize from his site:

    Charlie Asher has been recruited for a new job, an unpleasant but utterly necessary one: Death. It’s a dirty job. But hey, somebody’s gotta do it.

    If you haven’t-trust me. Just read it.

    Thanks for reminding me-gotta check up on the latest from his group of bloodsuckers…

  • muggle

    kids to read, I would highly recommend video games

    My grandson definitely. He’ll read the scenarios between out loud. Of course, he also likes reading books both out loud to us and to himself.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Book suggestion: flim Flam by James Randi.

  • LKL

    It amazes me how many people are willing to put ‘I don’t read’ in a profile that asks what their favorite book is. If it were me, I think I’d be too ashamed to announce it to the world like that.

  • i read a lot. Best books so far this year have been The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Beowulf, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and The Book Thief. Liked Harris’ The Moral Landscape too.

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