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Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection 
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 Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
The time has come for us to start the process of selecting our next non-fiction book for group discussion.

What is that process?

1. Members with 25+ forum posts make suggestions
2. We eventually narrow down the suggestions to 3 or 4 books
3. We all vote in a poll and the book with the most votes wins and is our next non-fiction book

What are the rules?

Please do not suggest books if you are a brand new member of BookTalk.org. You'll appreciate this rule in the near future if you stick around and become an active member. We only want members that are probably going to participate to have an influence on our book selection process. Makes sense right? Of course it does. So if you're new and just wanting to tell us about your book skip this thread, create a new thread, and share your book there. This thread is only for active members that plan to participate in the book discussion.

How can I maximize the chance that my book suggestion will be selected for inclusion on the book poll?

Quite simply you can invest a bit of time and energy into selling us on your book choice. Provide the title, author name, link to where we can learn more, and then your own thoughts on why your suggestion might be a good choice for group discussion. If you just do a hit-n-run post where you provide the bare minimum of info we will all assume you will probably approach the book discussion with as much effort. So we'll discount your suggestion as having less value than some of the more detailed suggestions.

And the most important thing you can do is stick with this thread from start to finish! When you see other members expressing their interest in a particular book leave your thoughts on their suggestion. If you don't think their book suggestion sounds interesting or would generate much discussion feel free to say so. If you find their suggestion interesting and you can see yourself participating in a discussion of that book should that book win in the poll...say so. Feedback is the most valuable thin you can contribute to this process. If a book suggestion is made but not a single member comments about that book suggestion, whether positive or negative, that suggestion will probably never make it to onto the poll.

So what would you like to read in January and February (and possibly March) of 2011? Wow, I cannot believe 2011 is right around the corner. :shock:



Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:05 am
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Several people are indicating an interest in discussing this book next. I hope they add some brief feedback here too. We've never done an interview of Sam Harris so that prospect definitely intrigues me.

Richard Dawkins wrote:
Beautifully written as they were (the elegance of his prose is a distilled blend of honesty and clarity) there was little in Sam Harris's previous books that couldn't have been written by any of his fellow "horsemen" of the "new atheism." This book is different, though every bit as readable as the other two. I was one of those who had unthinkingly bought into the hectoring myth that science can say nothing about morals. To my surprise, The Moral Landscape has changed all that for me. It should change it for philosophers too. Philosophers of mind have already discovered that they can't duck the study of neuroscience, and the best of them have raised their game as a result. Sam Harris shows that the same should be true of moral philosophers, and it will turn their world exhilaratingly upside down. As for religion, and the preposterous idea that we need God to be good, nobody wields a sharper bayonet than Sam Harris. --Richard Dawkins


I see tremendous potential for discussion with this book.



Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:11 am
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
I'm in favor of reading Sam Harris's book, but here's another suggestion too:

Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves


http://www.amazon.com/Rational-Optimist ... -1-catcorr

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


A while ago, Booktalk chose Ridley's The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature



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Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:58 am
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
Chris OConnor wrote:
The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Several people are indicating an interest in discussing this book next. I hope they add some brief feedback here too. We've never done an interview of Sam Harris so that prospect definitely intrigues me.

Richard Dawkins wrote:
Beautifully written as they were (the elegance of his prose is a distilled blend of honesty and clarity) there was little in Sam Harris's previous books that couldn't have been written by any of his fellow "horsemen" of the "new atheism." This book is different, though every bit as readable as the other two. I was one of those who had unthinkingly bought into the hectoring myth that science can say nothing about morals. To my surprise, The Moral Landscape has changed all that for me. It should change it for philosophers too. Philosophers of mind have already discovered that they can't duck the study of neuroscience, and the best of them have raised their game as a result. Sam Harris shows that the same should be true of moral philosophers, and it will turn their world exhilaratingly upside down. As for religion, and the preposterous idea that we need God to be good, nobody wields a sharper bayonet than Sam Harris. --Richard Dawkins


I see tremendous potential for discussion with this book.


I will read the book if it's chosen (and probably if it's not), and think that our re-discussion of The End of Faith will be a good springboard. Always helps to be knowledgeable about the author's previous work.



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Tue Nov 16, 2010 8:47 am
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
I would join in on the Moral Landscape discussion



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Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:09 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
There's no way I'm reading another Sam Harris book. However, Matt Ridley's book Genome was very good, and I might read another book of his.

I bought the following two books over the weekend and look forward to reading them. Though they don't cover the kinds of topic that are normally discussed on BookTalk, we can still consider them.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside- ... 0393072231

Quote:
Michael Lewis has written from the perspective of a financial insider for more than 20 years. His first book, Liar's Poker, was a warts-and-all account of Wall Street culture in the 1980s, when Lewis worked at the investment bank Salomon Brothers. Everything Lewis has touched since has turned to gold, and The Big Short seems to be another of those books, combining an incendiary, timely topic with the author's solid, insightful, and witty investigative reporting. Only the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette criticized what it felt was a rush job of writing and a failure to integrate the individual stories. Few readers will care for the message here (despite laugh-out-loud moments of absurdity), but Lewis is a capable guide into the world of CDOs, subprime mortgages, head-in-the-sand investments, inflated egos--and the big short. However, as Entertainment Weekly points at, if you're only going to read one book on the topic, perhaps this should not be the one.

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon by Neil Sheehan
http://www.amazon.com/Fiery-Peace-Cold- ... 0679745491
Quote:
The military-industrial complex proves an unlikely arena for plucky individualism in this history of the men who built America's intercontinental ballistic missile program in the 1950s and '60s. Sheehan paints air force Gen. Bernard Schriever and his colorful band of military aides, civilian patrons, defense intellectuals and aerospace entrepreneurs as a guerrilla insurgency fighting Pentagon red tape, and a hostile air force brass, led by Strategic Air Command honcho Curtis LeMay, who advocated megatonnage bomber planes over ICBMs. Sheehan gives a fascinating run-down of the engineering challenges posed by nuclear missiles, but the main action consists of bureaucratic intrigues, procurement innovations and epic briefings that catch the president's ear and open the funding spigots. Like the author's Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning A Bright Shining Lie, this is a saga of underdog visionaries struggling to redirect a misguided military juggernaut, this time successfully: the author credits Schriever's missiles with keeping the peace and jump-starting the space program and satellite industry. Sheehan's focus on personal initiative and human-scale dramas lends an overly romantic cast to his study of cold war policy making and the arms race, but it makes for an engrossing read. 16 pages of b&w photos.



Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:34 am
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
The Big Short is a very good book. Lewis discusses the discusses the aspects of the predatory mortgages and the bonds connected to them that led to the economic meltdown.



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Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:11 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
JulianTheApostate wrote:
I bought the following two books over the weekend and look forward to reading them. Though they don't cover the kinds of topic that are normally discussed on BookTalk, we can still consider them.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
http://www.amazon.com/Big-Short-Inside- ... 0393072231


This book comes highly recommended, I may pick up a copy:
Bethany McLean, All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159184 ... dp_product



Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
Two books on technology I'd be interested in reading (and am looking for other suggestions). This is one of those topics that I'd like to know more about, but I'm wary of overviews with nothing interesting to say to someone who is reasonably informed about the Internet

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
http://www.amazon.com/Here-Comes-Everyb ... 93ACAPET5P

Quote:
From Publishers Weekly
Blogs, wikis and other Web 2.0 accoutrements are revolutionizing the social order, a development that's cause for more excitement than alarm, argues interactive telecommunications professor Shirky. He contextualizes the digital networking age with philosophical, sociological, economic and statistical theories and points to its major successes and failures. Grassroots activism stands among the winners—Belarus's flash mobs, for example, blog their way to unprecedented antiauthoritarian demonstrations. Likewise, user/contributor-managed Wikipedia raises the bar for production efficiency by throwing traditional corporate hierarchy out the window. Print journalism falters as publishing methods are transformed through the Web. Shirky is at his best deconstructing Web failures like Wikitorial, the Los Angeles Times's attempt to facilitate group op-ed writing. Readers will appreciate the Gladwellesque lucidity of his assessments on what makes or breaks group efforts online: Every story in this book relies on the successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool, and an acceptable bargain with the users. The sum of Shirky's incisive exploration, like the Web itself, is greater than its parts. (Mar.)


Kevin Kelly, What Technology Wants
http://www.amazon.com/What-Technology-W ... 469&sr=1-1

Quote:
From the Economist:
It is a sweeping theory of technology that presents it not as a series of inventions by humans, but as a living force with its own needs and tendencies. It might sound facile to ask what technology “wants”, but Mr Kelly, who was founding editor of Wired magazine, makes a case for the desire of the “technium”, as he dubs the ecosystem of technologies, to grow in complexity and colonise new areas, just like life itself. He argues that just as water “wants” to flow downhill and life tends to fill available ecological niches, technology similarly “wants” to expand and evolve. We have no choice but to embrace it, he says, because we are already symbiotic with it; technology underpins civilisation.
http://www.economist.com/node/17145208


Sounds a little New-Agey to me, but this recommendation is enough for me to check it out (being a fan of that site)



Sat Nov 20, 2010 1:50 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
Please only make a few suggestions per person AND please take the time to leave feedback on the suggestions other people leave.



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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
Chris OConnor wrote:
Please only make a few suggestions per person AND please take the time to leave feedback on the suggestions other people leave.


My bad, I figured the selections would get whittled down to a couple of choices if people expressed interest.



Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:25 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
You're right that we do whittle them down but too many suggestions becomes an overwhelming task to research and leave feedback on. It works better if each person suggests a few books and them comments on all suggestions made. If we have a total of 20 suggestions most people are going to get frustrated and not want to spend the time to read all about each and every one. It becomes too much work. I hope I explained that properly. It is better to focus on quality over quantity.



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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
While I still favor Harris' new book, this one by Antonio Damasio also interests me. Damasio is best known for Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain.


"The brain, mind, self and consciousness, on their own and in relationship to each other, are the focus of Antonio Damasio's lifelong research and his latest book Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.

Damasio, David Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and director of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute housed in USC College, dedicated the book to addressing two questions: How does the brain construct a mind? And, how does the brain make that mind conscious?

Damasio believes there should be a reason to write a book. In addition to having enough new material on the neurology of consciousness, his reason for writing Self Comes to Mind was to start over.

A prolific writer of scientific articles and books, including his international best-seller Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain (Penguin Books), as well as an oft-quoted distinguished neuroscientist, Damasio grew dissatisfied with his account of consciousness. In this book, he discusses new and relevant research findings as well as what “we still do not know but wish we did.”

Understanding rich and complex neurological systems requires deconstruction and that is what Damasio does as he studies the processes that lead to consciousness. He underscores the need for deconstruction to facilitate a better understanding of the systems by quoting American physicist Richard Feynman: “What I cannot build, I cannot understand.”

According to Damasio, the brain uses specific mechanisms to produce consciousness, which is made of mind and self. The mind is the basic component and self is derived from the mind where consciousness emerges.

“We take consciousness for granted because it is so available, so easy to use, so elegant in its daily disappearing and reappearing acts, and yet when we think of it, scientists and nonscientists alike, we do puzzle,” Damasio writes in the book’s first chapter."



Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:20 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
Any more suggestions or feedback on the current suggestions?



Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:18 pm
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Post Re: Non-fiction suggestions and feedback needed for our Jan. & Feb. 2011 selection
How about Anton Lavey's "Satanic Bible?" To those of you reading this and freaking out...please relax. We could read and discuss it without becoming Satanist's or giving the world the impression we endorse Satanism. I've read The Satanic Bible years ago and still have a copy of the book. In think we would have some damn interesting discussions about Anton Lavey's life philosophy.

http://www.amazon.com/Satanic-Bible-Ant ... 0380015390

Called "The Black Pope" by many of his followers, Anton La Vey began the road to High Priesthood of the (lurch of Satan when he was only 16 years old and an organ player in a carnival:

"On Saturday night I would see men lusting after halfnaked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night they'd be back at The carnival or some other place of indulgence.

"I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man's carnal nature will out!"

From that time early in his life his path was clear. Finally, on the last night of April, 1966 -- Walpurgisnacht, the most important festival of the believers in witchcraft -- LaVey shaved his head in the tradition of Ancient executioners and announced the formation of The Church Of Satan. He had seen the need for a church that would recapture man's body and his carnal desires as objects of celebration. "Since worship of fleshly things produces pleasure," he said, "there would then be a temple of glorious indulgence . . ."



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