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January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one! 
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 January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!


Please post here and help us find a good non-fiction book to start in January. If you don't have at least 10 posts on the BookTalk.org forums the odds are you aren't going to participate in our book discussions. So please don't post in this thread. This is for our active members that intend to read and discuss whatever we pick.

Suggest a book or two here. And please please please read about the books other members suggest. Do you like their ideas? If so say so. If not don't be shy and say so. We need a good one to kick off 2018 so please participate in this process.

Some of our best discussions have been about theism vs. atheism so don't shy away from that controversial topic. It gets us excited and we have some awesome debates. But all topics are legit so suggest whatever you like.

Do not suggest your own book if you're an author UNLESS you are an active BookTalk.org member with at least 10 posts on the forums.

Please link to a book description!

OK, so what should we discuss? We don't have a lot of time to pick a book before the end of the year...



Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:14 pm
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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
The book I recommend is The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich.

Tillich's key existential idea that God is the ground of our being is today considered rather atheistic. This book of essays/sermons sits at the interface between religion and philosophy, providing valuable insight to an atheistic critique of religion. It is remarkable that such a top thinker has largely been forgotten. His political role in escaping from Hitler and becoming a leading ethical voice in the USA means his ideas remain highly relevant and worth discussing. This book explores wide-ranging questions such as how the Second World War disrupted people's assumptions about reality, against a Christian framework.

https://www.amazon.com/Shaking-Foundati ... 1620322943

Free pdf: http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-2/Religi ... ations.pdf
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Paul Tillich is generally considered one of the century's outstanding and influential thinkers. After teaching theology and philosophy at various German universities, he came to the United States in 1933. For many years he was Professor of Philosophical Theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, then University Professor at Harvard University. His books include Systematic Theology; The Courage to Be; Dynamics of Faith; Love, Power and Justice; Morality and Beyond; and Theology of Culture.


https://www.giffordlectures.org/lecturers/paul-tillich states "He opposed himself to any understanding of God that might give the impression of deity as a being among others; God in Tillich's view had to be understood as 'the ground of being' or to use a not-unfamiliar expression being itself. The manner in which he spoke of God with such remarks as 'God does not exist. . . . He is being itself beyond essence and existence' led to some accusations of atheism and pantheism."

Interview: http://partiallyexaminedlife.com/2011/0 ... entialism/


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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic's Bookshelf) Paperback – July 12, 2016
by George H. Smith (Author),‎ Lawrence M. Krauss (Foreword)

In this classic treatise on atheism, George H. Smith sets out to demolish what he considers the most widespread and destructive of all the myths devised by human beings - the concept of a supreme being. With painstaking scholarship and rigorous arguments, Mr. Smith examines, dissects, and refutes the myriad "proofs" offered by theists - sophisticated, professional theologians - as well as the average religious layperson. He explores the historical and psychological havoc wrought by religion in general and concludes that religious belief cannot have any place in the life of modern, rational man.

"It is not my purpose to convert people to atheism . . . (but to) demonstrate that the belief in God is irrational to the point of absurdity. If a person wishes to continue believing in a god, that is his prerogative, but he can no longer excuse his belief in the name of reason and moral necessity."


One of my favorites for sure.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump's America
by Kate Harding, Samhita Mukhopadhyay

https://us.macmillan.com/nastywomen/sam ... 250155504/


Twenty-Three Leading Feminist Writers on Protest and Solidarity

When 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump and 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton, how can women unite in Trump’s America? Nasty Women includes inspiring essays from a diverse group of talented women writers who seek to provide a broad look at how we got here and what we need to do to move forward.

Featuring essays by REBECCA SOLNIT on Trump and his “misogyny army,” CHERYL STRAYED on grappling with the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s loss, SARAH HEPOLA on resisting the urge to drink after the election, NICOLE CHUNG on family and friends who support Trump, KATHA POLLITT on the state of reproductive rights and what we do next, JILL FILIPOVIC on Trump’s policies and the life of a young woman in West Africa, SAMANTHA IRBY on racism and living as a queer black woman in rural America, RANDA JARRAR on traveling across the country as a queer Muslim American, SARAH HOLLENBECK on Trump’s cruelty toward the disabled, MEREDITH TALUSAN on feminism and the transgender community, and SARAH JAFFE on the labor movement and active and effective resistance, among others.



This sounds like good fun. Also, it's topical and perhaps this book will encourage more women to join the conversation.


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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
We were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

https://www.amazon.com/We-Were-Eight-Ye ... 0399590560

As usual with Coates' writing, this is well-informed and deeply considered. I have started it already, and will read it whether we choose it or not, but I would love to discuss it. It is a series of essays from the Atlantic, woven with commentary about where he was in his life and what the material meant to him when he wrote them.

I would also be happy with either of the books suggested above, or with Hillbilly Elegy by J.D.Vance.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
......
'''''''

Harry Marks wrote:
We were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

https://www.amazon.com/We-Were-Eight-Ye ... 0399590560


I can get behind this.


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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Robert Tulip wrote:
The book I recommend is The Shaking of the Foundations by Paul Tillich./



I like this one. Both of my adult children led me into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ many years ago, and are now atheists. I respect their decision and applaud the fact that this decision was carefully considered by both of them. I've read two or three books by atheists and learned a lot which only served to strengthened my faith. I would like to read more books like the one recommended but can't do so with my ladies church group. I'm glad you all like debates because I'll be debating from a spiritual/Christian perspective. ;)



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Chris OConnor wrote:
Atheism: The Case Against God (The Skeptic's Bookshelf) Paperback – July 12, 2016 by George H. Smith (Author),


I see Smith writes a weekly column for the Cato Institute at https://www.libertarianism.org/people/george-h-smith

One thing I find really interesting in atheism is its dialogue with conservative politics, since traditionally atheism is associated with radical left wing opinion.


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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and found it insightful - actually uncomfortable reading - which is a good thing in this day & age. So I'd support Eight Years in Power. That book has generated a lot of heat between the author and Cornell West, so much so that Coates just ditched his twitter account.

Hillbilly Elegy - I read that and strongly recommend it for understanding the Appalachian culture and a portion of Trump voters. I live near where the author grew up so if we choose that book, I could probably take/post pictures of some of the specific areas he discusses, declining portions of Hamilton, OH etc...

There has been a bit of tension between maintaining BookTalk as a FACTS based discussion group (Freethought Atheism Critical Thinking Science) or attempting to expand it. Chris makes a convincing case to focus on FACTS books (other books don't generate enough posts.) Some of the suggestions above try to broaden the discussion. Toward that end, I'll recommend Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character by Kay Redfield Jamison. This would break new ground at BookTalk in several ways.
1. It's about a poet. That would be a new arena.
2. The poet suffered from manic-depression. The book explores that whole madness - creativity paradigm.
3. The author suffers from manic-depression, so she would have deep insight into the poet's struggles.
4. The author is a psychologist and a world renowned expert on manic-depression, so she also has academic expertise.

Disclaimers: I don't know Robert Lowell, have no idea if he is a good poet, and have not read the book. I recently read the author's memoir An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness and found it very accessible.

However, if we don't read the George Smith book, I seriously fear Chris is gonna blow a gasket - he's been selling that since the beginning of BookTalk!



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
I'm suggesting Robert Wright’s book Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment.

BT regulars may recognize some overlapping with a number of books discussed over the last few years such as, Evolutionary Psychology and Jonathon Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis and The Righteous Mind.

Below is an insightful review of the book from the Amazon site.

By Vince Leoon December 20, 2017
Robert Wright’s book Why Buddhism is True originates in two distinct traditions. The first is evolutionary psychology, which holds that our brains evolved adaptively to maximize procreation and survival, producing everything from the consciousness of selfhood to the psychology of pleasure to competitive kinship structures. The second is Buddhism (at least Wright’s variant), which holds that most of these adaptive behaviors are not only illusory, but ultimately the source of all human suffering. For Wright, meditation (Vipassana) is a way to consciously examine and redirect our inherited neural response mechanisms, thereby decreasing suffering. If Wright’s extended discussion of evolutionary psychology is true, then Buddhism‘s solution to suffering is as well—even if the actual solution means simply not getting as angry as often or being able to get a good night’s sleep before a stressful public speaking engagement. So far so good.

But there’s more. Wright states at the outset–and all along the way–that meditation might be more than a methodology for addressing individual suffering. For Wright (and for many evolutionary psychologists), the global problems we face are by-products of the mismatch between our hunter-gatherer brains and contemporary realities. A brain that adaptively evolved small kinship networks may not be the best brain to deal with global ecological calamity; the brain that evolved rapid response mechanisms, especially to danger, might not be the best brain to control nuclear weapons. In this expanded scenario, meditation allows us to intervene in hunter-gatherer neural biology, see the world differently, make decisions based on the reality we inhabit rather than the archaic evolutionary tools that got us here. If enough people adopt meditative practices and change their relationship to the crippling effects of evolution, the human race might reach a tipping point, the “Metacognitive Revolution.” For Wright, this revolution is our last best hope: the way to stop war, end eco-catastrophe, and avert evolutionary suicide, one meditating brain at a time.

Whether Buddhist meditation can save the planet isn’t really the point (and certainly not the focus of the book). The point is Wright’s widely shared belief that our current unmediated cognitive abilities are not enough. Underlying this belief is a deep, unspoken anxiety surrounding biological evolution, a nagging suspicion that natural selection, left to its own devices, leaves no one standing. Buddhism and meditation is Wright’s antidote to this anxiety, an embodiment of his desire to intervene in the biological determinism at the heart of evolutionary psychology’s description of natural selection. In many ways, Wright’s book is a powerful refusal to surrender ultimate ends to the findings of his own scientific analysis. Wright doesn’t prove Buddhism is true; he hopes it is true. He also hopes human beings are capable of happiness and of shaping their own individual and collective futures. Breathing in, he knows he’s breathing in.

www.amazon.com/Why-Buddhism-True-Philos ... S79OMQ8TW5


I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and would go along with reading and discussing his recent book. I could also get into the George Smith book or even Hillbilly Elegy.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Wow . . . lots of good books suggested. I'm not into politics so would struggle through that type of book but will read whatever book is chosen and contribute to the discussion as best I can.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Keep it going guys! Feedback on suggestions is vital.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
I'd support LanDroid's suggestion, Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which is described as an "exploration of America's racial history", structured as a series of letters to the author's teenaged son. It sounds provocative enough that I can see the possibility of a good discussion. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and it's relatively short at 163 pages.

I would also gladly read Robert Wright's book, Why Buddhism is True, or J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy.

Here's David Brooks' piece on Hillbilly Elegy . . .

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/28/opin ... .html?_r=0


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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
I am suggesting: "Would You Kill the Fat Man?: The Trolley Problem and What Your Answer Tells Us about Right and Wrong" by David Edmonds

Here is a quick review:
"If you are interested in the trolley problems which are a certain brand of thought experiments with a limited history this work provides a brief well written and interesting intorduction to the topic. There is a good bit of basic information here: who invented the trolley problem, what have been its most important iterations and variations, what thinkers (at least some of them) have contributed to the background for this kind of discourse, and a number of interesting specuations about how these problems might be used or addressed in the future. Among Edmonds specualtion perhaps the most troubling is the suggestion that we might use medicine to improve ourselves morally. I am pleased to say that I will likely not live long enough to see such things put into practice on a large scale. I would rather be killed by the state than submit to such a thing. Towards the end of the book, much to my surprise, Edmunds tell us what he would do with respect to the fat man - kill him or not kill him . Read the book if you want to know what he would do and why there is any question regarding the fat man's life.
Some prior interest in philosophy, particularly moral philosophy, is helpful, but the author assumes the readers knows very little. If you are not especially interested in philosophy, but you would appreciate an interesting and very thoughtful relatively easy read you might give it a try. There are a number of historical cases and examples in the book which are very well chosen and presented."


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ZT0VJCY/re ... _ttl_sol_0



Last edited by TEKennelly on Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:29 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: January 2018 NON-FICTION book! We need one!
Suggesting Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality.”

Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” is an interesting short collection of papers. The paper which provides the title of the book was written over forty year ago during an all too typical refugee crisis in a remote corner of the world. Singer asks a question by way of a moral parable intended to disturb the conscience of the reader. Briefly: no doubt the reader will save a child drowning in a nearby pond even if this ruins his clothes, so the reader should give money to a charity to save the lives of children facing imminent death in some distant land.
Singer offers a principle in connection with the “child in the pond” image: “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it” (pg. 6). This principle is potentially useful if it motivates us to do more good in the world than we would otherwise do. Singer offers the parable and the principle to challenge and motivate the reader to do good.
There is also an agenda in Singer’s effort to ask whether modern people living in an advanced culture can live ethical lives while others face death by way of starvation and other preventable conditions which are the products of extreme poverty. Singer raises the question but he offers no definitive answer.
I am inclined to say that if we take Singer’s parable and principle seriously there really is no ground for a simple, moral, private life in an advanced culture. Why? Very simply, as things stand, one can never do enough to help the poor. Period. If one intends to live a “moral” life according to this standard then sell all you have and move to the poorest parts of India, Africa, the Amazon or some similar place and spend your time helping the poor. Some people actually do this, but most of us do not do it. Nevertheless, the development of an argument intended to push us to do more to help those in remote areas who suffer in extreme poverty is a good thing. I have seen this sort of pushing most often in the church and I am glad (and rather surprised) to see it in Singer’s argument.

https://www.amazon.com/Famine-Affluence ... ger+famine



Last edited by TEKennelly on Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:31 am, edited 1 time in total.



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