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Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING 
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 Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book!

The process is simple. All active BookTalk.org members, with 25 or more forum posts, that actually plan to read and participate in the March and April 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion are encouraged to participate in this book selection process.

This thread is for book suggestions. After we have sufficient quality book suggestions and feedback on those book suggestions we will probably conduct a poll where a small handful of the book suggestions are voted upon. The book that gets the most votes will be our next official NON-FICTION book discussion.

However, if there is almost unanimous interest in a particular book suggestion we might bypass the poll and just announce that book as the winner. This is why feedback is so important. Without feedback on ALL of the book suggestions we won't know which books to place on the poll or which book appears to have unanimous interest.

So what do I do now?

Suggest a book.
Please don't suggest a bunch of books. Suggest one or two books (or maybe three if you simply must) that you think would be great for discussion. We need quality suggestions not a massive quantity of suggestions. When we get too many suggestions the task of researching each book and giving feedback on all suggestions becomes tedious and the book selection process becomes like homework. So put a lot of thought into your book suggestion or suggestions. Give us your BEST ideas not ALL of them.

You really need to give more than just a book title. Put some effort into this. Give the title, author name, and a link to the book on Amazon.com at the very least. And if you really want to increase the odds of your book being eventually selected say a sentence of two about why you are suggesting the book. Those of you that just post a quick book title are probably never going to convince anyone that your heart is behind your suggestion. And if you don't seem excited enough by your suggestion to type a sentence or two what are the odds you will actually have the time and energy to participate in a discussion of the book if it wins?

Give feedback on ALL suggestions made by others.
This is the most important contribution you can make to our book selection process. Say a few quick words about each book suggestion. Do you like the suggestion? Would you read it if it were selected as the winner? Why do you like or dislike the suggestion? Be honest and speak up. Our book selection process is an open discussion where participants are encouraged to persuade or dissuade people on the suggestions.

Please suggest books that you think will generate discussion. And massive books have never been a good idea for our official discussions. If you want to create a side discussion of that 750 page monster go for it, but the odds are few people will be willing to read and discuss a book of that size. Use common sense when suggesting books. There is no specific page count maximum.

Again, you need to have 25 or more forums posts to suggest books or vote in our book polls. If you find that rule difficult then you probably wouldn't actually participate in the book discussion. As a general rule the people that have participated in our book discussions have typically had hundreds of posts on the forums. Over the years we have learned that those people that attempted to suggest books or vote that had less than 25 forum post simply never actually participated in the book discussions. So the rule exists for a reason.

So what would you like to discuss as our March and April 2011 NON-FICTION book discussion?



Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:51 am
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002-2008
Thomas Nagel

http://www.amazon.com/Secular-Philosoph ... 0195394119

Quote:
This volume collects recent essays and reviews by Thomas Nagel in three subject areas. The first section, including the title essay, is concerned with religious belief and some of the philosophical questions connected with it, such as the relation between religion and evolutionary theory, the question of why there is something rather than nothing, and the significance for human life of our place in the cosmos. It includes a defense of the relevance of religion to science education. The second section concerns the interpretation of liberal political theory, especially in an international context. A substantial essay argues that the principles of distributive justice that apply within individual nation-states do not apply to the world as a whole. The third section discusses the distinctive contributions of four philosophers to our understanding of what it is to be human--the form of human consciousness and the source of human values.

Thomas Nagel is University Professor, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at New York University. Among his books are The View from Nowhere, Equality and Partiality, and The Last Word.


I've read the first several essays in this book and found them highly intelligent, perceptive and analytical, while still quite accessible. The collected essay format would enable good discussion with a more natural breakup into distinct threads than with chapter books that cover one continuous theme. I will probably post some reviews.



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Thu Feb 03, 2011 6:37 am
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
I will reiterate my suggestion for Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves. He is a popular science writer, and the issues should provoke some discussion. Some of the critical reviews have accused him of oversimplifying, but that's something we could discuss, and I think some of those reactions are exactly what Ridley is trying to address; taking a pessimistic stance on economic/environmental issues is the intellectually "respectable" thing to do. (I have not read the book.)

http://www.amazon.com/Rational-Optimist ... 520&sr=8-1

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/

Quote:
From Booklist
Science journalist Ridley believes there is a reason to be optimistic about the human race, and he defies the unprecedented economic pessimism he observes. His book is about the rapid and continuous change that human society experiences, unlike any other animal group. Ideas needed to meet and mate for culture to turn cumulative, and “there was a point in human pre-history when big-brained, cultural, learning people for the first time began to exchange things with each other and that once they started doing so, culture suddenly became cumulative, and the great headlong experiment of human economic ‘progress’ began.” Participants in the exchanges improved their lives by trading food and tools. Ridley believes it is probable that humanity will be better off in the next century than it is today, and so will the ecology of our planet. He dares the human race to embrace change, be rationally optimistic, and strive for an improved life for all people. --Mary Whaley


Quote:
Lucidly explains the most recent discoveries on what makes us what we are, and how we should think about these discoveries as we ponder who we want to be! A treat, written with insight, wisdom, and style. - Steven Pinker, author of The Blank Slate



Last edited by Dexter on Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:19 pm
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Thank you Robert and Dexter! Your posts are perfect examples of the kind of book suggestion posts that make this book selection process a pleasure.



Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Robert's suggestion sounds interesting, especially the first section.
Dexter's suggestion is an area I know nothing about and as such, would be an interesting foray.

My suggestion is "Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception" by Charles Seife

Bookmarks magazine states:
"In our divided society, the certainty of mathematics would seem to provide some common ground. But as anyone paying attention to politics can attest, the use of numbers is not an objective science: they can be manipulated to bolster the case for a candidate before and after (and in 2000, long after) Election Day. Charles Seife, who has had enough of this mathematical manipulation, defines "proofiness" as "the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something you know in your heart is true--even when it's not." His book is a guide to the many ways numbers are distorted in American life, not just by politicians but by many others who seek to deceive us. In the end, he claims, "proofiness" is more than "mere rhetoric; our democracy may well rise or fall by the numbers".

http://www.amazon.com/Proofiness-Dark-A ... =8-1-spell

From Amazon:
*Starred Review* Following in the footsteps of John Allen Paulos (Innumeracy, 1989) and Michael Shermer (Why People Believe Weird Things, 1997), Seife conducts a thorough investigation into why so many of us find it so easy to believe things that are patently ridiculous. Why, for example, does anyone take seriously the idea that some vaccines can cause autism, or that athletes who wear red have a competitive advantage? It’s all comes down to numbers, the author argues, and the ways they can be used to make people believe things that are not true. He introduces us to the concepts of Potemkin numbers (deliberately deceptive statistics), “disestimation” (turning a number into a falsehood by taking it too literally), fruit-packing (a variety of deceptive techniques including cherry-picking data and comparing apples to oranges), and “randumbness” (finding causality in random events). He explores the many ways we misunderstand simple mathematical terms—confusing average, for example, with typical—and our natural tendency to treat numbers as truth and to see patterns where none exist. Despite its serious and frequently complex subject, the book is written in a light, often humorous tone (the title is a riff on Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness,” although proofiness has been in circulation for a while, with a variety of meanings). A delightful and remarkably revealing book that should be required reading for . . . well, for everyone. --David Pitt


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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
I would like to suggest Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Synopsis

Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.

As part of the Joseph Campbell Foundation’s Collected Works of Joseph Campbell, this third edition features expanded illustrations, a comprehensive bibliography, and more accessible sidebars.

As relevant today as when it was first published, The Hero with a Thousand Faces continues to find new audiences in fields ranging from religion and anthropology to literature and film studies. The book has also profoundly influenced creative artists—including authors, songwriters, game designers, and filmmakers—and continues to inspire all those interested in the inherent human need to tell stories.

from Barnes and Noble

Preface (to the 1949 edition)

"THE TRUTHS contained in religious doctrines are after all so distorted and systematically disguised," writes Sigmund Freud, "that the mass of humanity cannot recognize them as truth. The case is similar to what happens when we tell a child that newborn babies are brought by the stork. Here, too, we are telling the truth in symbolic clothing, for we know what the large bird signifies. But the child does not know it. He hears only the distorted part of what we say, and feels that he has been deceived; and we know how often his distrust of the grown-ups and his refractoriness actually take their start from this impression. We have become convinced that it is better to avoid such symbolic disguisings of the truth in what we tell children and not to withhold from them a knowledge of the true state of affairs commensurate with their intellectual level."

It is the purpose of the present book to uncover some of the truths disguised for us under the figures of religion and mythology by bringing together a multitude of not-too-difficult examples and letting the ancient meaning become apparent of itself. The old teachers knew what they were saying. Once we have learned to read again their symbolic language, it requires no more than the talent of an anthologist to let their teaching be heard. But first we must learn the grammar of the symbols, and as a key to this mystery I know of no better modern tool than psychoanalysis. Without regarding this as the last word on the subject, one can nevertheless permit it to serve as an approach. The second step will be then to bring together a host of myths and folk tales from even' corner of the world, and to let the symbols speak for themselves. The parallels will be immediately apparent; and these will develop a vast and amazingly constant statement of the basic truths by which man has lived throughout the millenniums of his residence on the planet. . . .

Edit: (laughing)
I just realized that Tat's avatar is a photo of Joseph Campbell


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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Decisions, decisions...I enjoy reading anything by Campbell, so I would go for that book as well. Actually, my problem with this selection so far is that ALL of the suggested books interest me!


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Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes


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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
I'll have to say, the other nominations sound very interesting, Tulip's choice in particular. I will also say that sometimes I don't participate in discussions but selfishly read and keep everything to myself. I nominated Campbell because I'm planning on reading the book anyway.


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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
geo wrote:
I would like to suggest Joseph Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces


geo wrote:
Since its release in 1949, The Hero with a Thousand Faces has influenced millions of readers by combining the insights of modern psychology with Joseph Campbell’s revolutionary understanding of comparative mythology. In these pages, Campbell outlines the Hero’s Journey, a universal motif of adventure and transformation that runs through virtually all of the world’s mythic traditions. He also explores the Cosmogonic Cycle, the mythic pattern of world creation and destruction.


This sounds great!



Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:00 pm
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Hero With A Thousand Faces sounds interesting.



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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
Last call on suggestions!

I'm aiming to put the Non-Fiction poll up on Sunday night.



Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:35 am
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Post Re: Let's pick our March and April NON-FICTION book! READ BEFORE POSTING
I'm going to put the poll up now. Several people made a book suggestion yet didn't offer feedback on other people's suggestions. Please keep in mind feedback is very important.



Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:42 am
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