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Book List #3 (2013)

The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One by Satoshi Kanazawa

We are taught flawed cliches that people like Kanazawa love to look at carefully and knock down for their fraud and bluster. Instead, he gathers facts and suggests better means of understanding what actually happens in our existence, offering new insight to what we wrongly thought was confusing, settled, and boring. We had been deceived -- now we gain insight.

Epistles 1-65 by Seneca

Start with Seneca's Epistles (1-65) for warm and sensible guidance on issues that remain relevant today and reveal a mode of thinking useful for the aware and conscious. You might consider writing letters again, and thirst onward for Epistle volumes 66-92 and 93-124, and then wish to discover more about Epicurus.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

A prophet appears and is asked difficult questions about the most troubling matters that he answers deeply, offering wise guidance. He reminds us of the eternal cycle to which we belong, the quality of life we should be creating for our families, and the decent nature of humanity. An easy afternoon read for those seeking clarity, and a hint to an older culture that made its path instead of reacting to distractions.

The Art of Struggle by Michel Houellebecq

Houellebecq's poetry gained fame in France and allowed him to find the potency that powered his novels. His poetry is compact and clear, suggesting themes that were later expanded in his characters about the dull misery of modernity that has drained the magic from our lives, seeming at times to suggest that we could return to meaning by withdrawing from relations, products, and lifestyles that are unsuitable for civilization.

Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler

A brilliant historian, Spengler surveys the soul of great civilizations and their patterns of life and death. Like seasonal plants, they arise in spring, fruit in summer, decay in autumn, and die in winter. Spengler's detailed psychological assessment of civilizations will change the way you view your society, its phase, and its place in history.

The Essential Neruda by Pablo Neruda

This is a great introduction to Neruda's best poetry, spanning his works from romantic, adventurous, sorrowful, spiritual, to reflective. The original Spanish is matched with highly competent English translation. Recommended for dreamers and lovers.

Kitchen Confidential - Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

An insider's view into restaurant kitchens from a chef with an eye for detail and a gift for crisp and engaging writing that captures the humor and humanity of a cutthroat industry. This was the book that made Bourdain famous, intended only for other insiders who would appreciate his ability to articulate the essentials of a crazy era in a demanding field.

Heresies - Against Progress and Other Illusions by John Gray

"Science is supposed to be the pursuit of truth, but in secular cultures it has become the chief vehicle for myth. The human needs that were once expressed in religion have not disappeared. From the cult of cryogenics to absurd neo-Darwinian ideas, the core myths of western religion are being recycled as science. In the course of this transformation, the wisdom they contain is being lost. Growing scientific knowledge is not producing a more rational view of the world, but a secular mythology that is further from the truth of the human condition than the religious myths of the past."


Book List #2 (2008)

The Discovery of France by Graham Robb

A hundred years ago there was no France, just a bunch of dissimilar towns that were doing the same as they had done for thousands of years. Neither was their a French language outside of Paris, though some "French" people had learned a few years of French as a second language.

This book makes it clear with detailed research and historical examples that the ancient past is not so ancient, and in many cases continues on still today.

The Northern Crusades by Eric Christiansen

The battles to tame the last of the European heathens raged for centuries as the bringers of Judeo-Christian submission forced their gifts upon people who had previously lived in accordance with nature and reality. Despite widespread pagan genocide by the Judeo-Christians, isolated populations continued living as they always had, still holding true to their values and beliefs, unaware of who claimed rule over profitable cities or of the Middle Eastern religion promoted by the occupiers.

The Economist Magazine

If you are able to read one magazine, it should be the Economist. The title reveals its perspective: all stories are seen through the eyes of how money can be made from world events -- a very stupid and short-sighted viewpoint -- but the factual reporting is top-notch, insightful, and focused on pragmatic analysis.

The moralizing and desire to equalize everything for the sake of easy commerce is understandable given the goals of their readership, but once you get past that there is no better news source for a quick but potent summary of world events.

The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis

As cancer rates rise along with the unchecked use of cancer-causing chemicals and toxic waste, the depth of knowledge about cancer within the medical profession has been declining. Davis takes the reader through the history of what has been known about cancer and how much has been lost along the years as if indifference, human weakness, or deliberate sabotage took its toll. Though it is often repeated that curing cancer is not profitable but prolonged treatments can earn millions of dollars in insurance fees, Davis paints a picture of a profession that was once on the verge of curing cancer but now struggles and fails to retain awareness of what once was known.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Perhaps the only living example of a traditional scholar, Nassim Taleb enjoys puncturing the self-inflated who presume to know far more than they really do. In an age where people bestow titles upon themselves and everyone imagines themselves the smartest guy in the room, Taleb effortlessly points out the carnage of errors and presumptions piled upon one another so the inevitable collapse can be understood before it occurs.

In this book, Taleb focuses on rare events that are not predictable or even considered in standard analysis, yet are often definitive, whether as field-changing innovations or a perfect storm of financial events. His emphasis is on clean, detailed thinking about what is really known and how to look forward understanding past extreme events that were not predicted, yet took place with highly impacting results.

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Meditations serves as a Traditional holy book that provides wisdom and counseling in difficult times. Its spirituality is deep, its advice eternal, and its lessons easily demonstrated. It is a good antidote to individuality and helpfully reminds that personal lives are short and the larger whole is what matters, but the self is completely unimportant.

Paired with long walks, Meditations will clarify the deepest and most troubling questions when given the proper quiet, reflection, and receptivity.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
by Michael Pollan

These extra calories are from nutrient-deficient food. It began with refined flour in the 1870s which removed bran and wheat germ to produce long-lasting snowy white flour. Consumers loved it because flour no longer turned rancid, and it didn't become infected with bugs.

Okay. Why didn't bugs chomp down on this new flour? Quite simply because the nutrients, the bran, wheat germ, carotene, were gone. Pollan explains, ". . . this gorgeous white powder was nutritionally worthless, or nearly so. Much the same is now true for corn flour and white rice." Take a look at a package of white flour and count the additives that make up for the loss of natural ingredients. Then you'll understand the basic thrust of this book and its remedies.

Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from Nation Review by William Buckley

Who knew that William F. Buckley Jr., the quintessential conservative, invented the blog decades before the World Wide Web came into existence? National Review, like nearly all magazines, has always published letters from readers. In 1967 the magazine decided that certain letters merited different treatment, and Buckley, the editor, began a column called Notes & Asides, in which he personally answered the most notable and outrageous letters. The selections in this book, culled from four decades of these columns, include exchanges with such figures as Ronald Reagan, Eric Sevareid, Richard Nixon, A. M. Rosenthal, Auberon Waugh, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. There are also hilarious exchanges with ordinary readers, as well as letters from Buckley to various organizations and government agencies.


Book List #1 (2001)

Cosmic Consciousness : A Study on the Evolution of the Human Mind - Richard Maurice Bucke

An illuminating guide to the power of transcendent realization and the evolution of the human mind.

Discipline and Punish : The Birth of the Prison - Michel Foucault

Historical philosophy on the concept of punishment and its many mutations over the ages.

Essays and Aphorisms - Arthur Schopenhauer

An excellent introduction to the penetrating mind and subtle humor of the great German philosopher.

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television - Jerry Mander

The aware reader will wonder why television is not considered a catastrophic health hazard.

On the Genealogy of Morals/Ecce Homo - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Three essays tracing the roots of morality to the less than noble origins of the revolt of the lower classes.

History of Pagan Europe A History of Pagan Europe - Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick

A definitive history on Europe's Pagan civilizations that flourished before the invasion from the east. Great price!

Love and Sex: Cross-Cultural Perspectives - Hatfield/Rapson

A readable academic work surveying an amazing variety of cultural perspectives on love and sex.

A Pattern Language : Towns, Buildings, Construction - Christopher Alexander

Sensible architectural design for a community that serves the human need to be aligned with nature.

Raymond Pettibon: The Books 1978-1998 - Raymond Pettibon

A modern artist known for his unique illustrations and stream of consciousness commentary.

Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes - Jacques Ellul

A discussion of how propaganda dominates reality at every place in society and how it persists successfully despite the harm it causes.

The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

This book opens a lucid and insightful view into nature's cycle of propagation and the varying strategies that evolve in ecosystems over time.

Sin Boldly! Dr. Dave's Guide to Writing the College Paper - David Williams

A trenchant attack on society's illusions as well as a concise guide to writing that will be useful to all aspiring authors.

Sperm Wars - Robin Baker

Evolutionary biology points its curious eye towards human sexuality and the subconscious battles being played out over quality sperm in the dance of procreation.

The Technological Society - Jacques Ellul

A thorough examination of the mechanism by which technological society operates and an explanation of why we are the cogs.

The Wisdom of Life and Counsels and Maxims - Arthur Schopenhauer

Cogent words of wisdom from a sage who is not afraid to share unpleasant truths and shatter the safety of darkness.

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