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Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions 
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Post Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
PLEASE READ THESE RULES


We're trying something a little different for this next non-fiction book selection. Please read this post and follow these simple instructions before you suggest non-fiction books.

1. You must have 25 or more QUALITY posts on our forums to be allowed to suggest books for this and all official group discussions.
Posts such as "Nice post!" aren't quality posts. This rule is there to protect the active members from having people that are not serious from effecting the outcome of our polls. If you have fewer than 25 posts and you make book suggestions it will mean you completely ignored (and probably didn't read) the rules. From experience these sort of people are probably not going to participate no matter which book wins. If they cannot take the time to read the rules they aren't going to read the book and read peoples posts and interact in a meaningful way. (I am just explaining why some of these rules exist)

2. Book suggestions must include the book title, author name, book description or review and a link to Amazon.com where we can learn more about the book.
Please do not forget to include a link. Again, this rule exists because we're trying to make the book selection process easy for everyone. If you simply post a book title everyone has to try to research your book on their own. This rule exists to weed out the book suggestions made by people that aren't very serious about participating. Books suggested by hit-n-run members that will never actually participate really mess up the book selection process.

3. For Sept. & Oct. we will be only considering books that focus on history or historical events that took place a minimum of 100 years ago.
When you make your suggestions please tell us the time period of your book. Please do not forget this.

4. Please only make 1 or 2 suggestions per person. Ideally 1 book suggestion per person, but a max of 2.
We're looking for quality and not quantity. When people make 5 - 10 book suggestions this is like assigning homework to the other participants. Nobody wants to research dozens of books. And as a result people do NOT research them. The book selection process becomes too time consuming and painful. Make a list of book suggestions, research them, and then suggest 1 or 2 that you think would make for great discussions.

5. Please leave feedback on the other suggestions made by other people.
This is the MOST IMPORTANT SUGGESTION. All book suggestions that receive no positive feedback will be automatically disqualified from the eventual poll. If people abide by rule #4 and only suggest 1 or 2 books it should not be difficult for each and every participant to leave feedback about all of the books suggested.

6. Make a statement about your commitment and plans to participate in this next book discussion.
Will you be participating no matter what books wins? Will you only participate if the book you want to win actually wins? Do you own the book already? We're trying to figure out what the probability is of you actually participating. So a comment such as "I don't own any of the books but will participate no matter what book wins. I'll order my book as soon as the poll ends and we have a winner." is exactly what we're looking for. Say something other than making a book suggestion so we take you seriously. Our biggest problem with our book discussions is finding a way to eliminate the suggestions and votes of people that really won't participate in the actual discussions. This is not simply a survey asking what book you like the best out of the bunch. This is a process to fnd a book that a large group of people will discuss together.




Please be ready for follow-up questions in this thread. If you make a book suggestion and you don't give us enough information to weigh your level of commitment to the upcoming non-fiction book discussion you will see a follow-up question here. If you don't answer it in a reasonable amount of time that means you're not serious and we'll eliminate your suggestion. So please don't make a book suggestion and disappear. Even without follow-up questions we want you to make a suggestion and then stick with this suggestion thread, reply to other people, leave feedback, and genuinely participate in the book selection process. People that make a suggestion and then never a second or third post in the suggestion thread will not be taken seriously. We have to do this. Close to a decade of running BookTalk.org has shown us who is serious and who is not.

All books suggested will not automatically end up on the poll. We'll go through the list and eliminate suggestions made by people not yet qualified to suggest books or vote, UNLESS their suggestions seemed to get significant positive feedback from qualified members.

Suggestions that aren't covering a time period at least 100 years ago will be eliminated. Suggestions made by members that have proved themselves to the community will be given more weight than suggestions by new members that don't yet have a history of participating in our book discussions. If you're a new member and this sounds unwelcoming please understand that we have close to a decade of experience with book discussions. We know there are people that are far less likely to participate in the book discussions and we're going to stop giving these people equal weight. If you're new it doesn't take long to earn your position in this group of active and valuable BookTalk.org members.

So what would you like to read in September and October?



Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:48 am
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Chris, forgive me for jumping in at this late date, but I've been wondering if, also, some proof of readiness to discuss a book could be asked for. And the most important of these are, "YES, I will agree to read the book chosen by the group--even though it wasn't one that I suggested,", AND "I have the book in hand or know that it will be arriving in a few days." It seems that getting that sort of commitment would enhance the participation. Maybe it isn't worth listing a book, even though it "won," if only a few people are really ready to discuss it. Your direction of limiting the scope of the candidate books is a step in the right direction, but if it doesn't work by itself perhaps my idea could be tried.



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Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:36 am
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Dwill, I added some words along the lines of what you have suggested. I originally had something like this included but I feel bad and like I am being a control freak. Over the years newer members have complained that they don't feel like their votes matter. Well, they don't and can't, out of necessity. All a new person has to do to prove themselves is start participating on the forums and in the book discussions. But few ever do. But they do want to suggest books and vote.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
The Evolution of God by Robert Wright

Website: http://www.evolutionofgod.net/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-God-Rob ... 0316734918

This is a brilliant book, a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, that I have just finished reading after seeing the recommendation and comments by DWill. Wright presents a compelling empirical analysis of the socio-political history of religion, with chapters on primitive culture, the emergence of Israel and Christianity, and Muhammed and the Koran. By looking at ancient history through the lens of evolutionary psychology, Wright addresses the major interlinked themes of the sources of historical identity and the nature of cultural change, applying Richard Dawkins' concept of the meme to analyse cultural formation.
DWill wrote:
Wright is refreshingly non-dogmatic and he offers his conclusions tentatively. If you ever like to read such books, where the author's playful intellect is on display, I would recommend you look futher into this book.

DWill wrote:
I like Robert Wright's approach in The Evolution of God. He explains the contradictions in terms of a dynamic political situation that held over the course of several hundred years. From the Bible passages we can infer some of this political dynamism. That has the advantage, at least, of making the bible more interesting as an object of study. It might be a good thing that the Bible is not a more manipulated collection of documents than it is. A central point of Wright's is that religions are not only what their scriptures or their leaders say they are. Religions don't run strictly by a manual. This can explain how Christians (or Muslims) make their own selections from scripture, featuring some elements while ignoring many others.

DWill wrote:
There seem to be two levels on which debates about the evolution of religion are carried on. There is the level of intellectual history that I think you most often exemplify, and the level of "the facts on the ground" that Robert Wright occupies and that appeals most to me as a way of explaining why things change. Individual salvation, which as it came to be offered by Christians meant that we would exchange a vale of tears for eternal, blissful life, was simply on a primary level something that people found they wanted or needed. When had such a thing been offered before to anyone but kings? If you want to talk about powerful memes, boy there is one.

DWill wrote:
Wright has a chapter (5) on polytheistic Israel that was interesting in view of some background evidence of Jewish polytheism in Genesis. I'm not talking so much about Wright in order to cite him as an authority, by the way, but so as to not present his ideas as mine. He's an amateur, really, but in the best sense, and I think a model of a freethinker as well. His arguments do appeal to me, but he offers them tentatively. I get the impression that he'd be an engaing and pleasant debate partner.

In Genesis, we've all noted the instances where God says "us" and "we," and the disputed verse about the "sons of God" coming on to the human women. Wright notes more remnants of apparent polytheism in other OT books such as Psalms and Numbers. I've looked at "us" and "we" as kind of a "royal" usage on God's part, but that doesn't make much sense. Wright points to this as evidence of the tip of a polytheistic iceberg in early Israel. Monotheist editors removed much, but not all, of it. He says that a combination of recently translated Canaanite texts, archaelogical evidence, and the OT evidence itself points to very different picture of the emergence of monotheism than the Bible itself gives us. The Bible history shows Moses and the Israelites fleeing Egypt with their idea of Yahweh, the one and only god, fully intact, and settling in Canaan after expelling or killing all the idol-worshipping Canaanites.

But it now appears doubtful that if any of this happened at all, it explains either how the greater part of the Israelites came to be in Canaan, or how the Israelites wound up as monotheists. Archaeological remains point to the liklihood that the Israelites were already in Canaan, undergoing a painful transition from herders to more settled farmers. They were a distinct people from the Canaanites, as the absence of pig remains from their settlements attests.

There is no clear evidence of any sudden takeover as having occurred, no military victories of the Israelites over the Canaanites evident. (This is good news, in a sense, because now we can think that not only did God not really direct all this killing, but the killing never even happened.)

The relevance to monotheism is that the early religious milieu was polytheistic in both the Canaanite and the not wholly separate Israelite cultures. The Canaanite god El was at the head of a pantheon, and the Israelites worshiped this god as well until they kind of folded him into Yahweh. Then, for a while, Yahweh acted as a CEO god in a way similar to El. A further development was the move to monolatry, which acknowledged the existence of other gods, but enjoined the worship only of Yahweh. The final stage would be, of course, the belief that Yahweh is the only god, that no others exist but him.

The Bible of course talks a lot about the Israelites backsliding into worship of "foreign" gods, but Wright says that this assumes an entrenched monotheism that didn't actually exist until closer to the time that the scriptures were actually compiled or written. The scriptures say as much about the times in which they were written as the times they were written about. The desire was to make Israelite history conform to the Yahweh-based monotheism that had arrived by the writers' present--but that view omits a process of evolution that took place, and takes place in all culture including religion.

DWill wrote:
I've been dropping Robert Wright's name all over the place, so I hope no one will mind if I say more about stuff from his book The Evolution of God that I found interesting. Much of what he says relates to the OT and to the earliest books in particular, so it seems to fit here.

A main thrust of the book is that Hebrew monotheism emerged by a gradual process. It didn't burst upon the scene suddenly, as the traditional view has it, but proceeded fitfully and coexisted with polytheism for a long while. "Here [i.e, in Genesis] and elsewhere, the Hebrew Bible--the earliest scripture in the Abrahamic tradition, and in that sense the starting point for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--holds telling remmants of its ancestry. Apparently Abrahamic monotheism grew organically out of the "primitive" by a process more evolutionary than revolutionary" (p. 11).

A startling perspective for me was provided by the following: "This leads us to one of the more ironic properties of hunter-gatherer religion: it doesn't exist. That is, if you asked hunter-gatherers what their religion is, they wouldn't know what you were talking about. The kinds of beliefs and rituals we label "religious" are so tightly interwoven into their everyday thought and action that they don't have a word for them. We may label some of their explanations of how the world works "supernatural" and others "naturalistic," but those are our categories, not theirs. To them it seems fitting to respond to illness by trying to figure out which god caused it, just as to us it seems fitting to look for the germ that caused it. This fine intertwining of the--in our terms--religious and nonreligious parts of culture would continue well into recorded history. Ancient Hebrew, the language of most of the Holy Bible, had no word for religion" (p. 20).

DWill wrote:
the best explanation for the ways religions and concepts of gods develop: that they are obedient to the facts on the ground. That is the compact summary of Robert Wright's book, The Evolution of God, which I've just finished (and recommend).



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Thanks Robert and DWill. I read some reviews for The Evolution of God and one criticism that emerged was that Wright ignored primitive religion, Hindu, Buddhism, etc... But let's face it, the Abrahamic religions have the most impact on our lives and I'm content knowing Wright puts his focus there.

Great suggestion and I put a lot of weight behind suggestions from either of you. So my feedback is that I'd love to read and discuss this book.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Chris OConnor wrote:
Thanks Robert and DWill. I read some reviews for The Evolution of God and one criticism that emerged was that Wright ignored primitive religion, Hindu, Buddhism, etc... But let's face it, the Abrahamic religions have the most impact on our lives and I'm content knowing Wright puts his focus there.

Great suggestion and I put a lot of weight behind suggestions from either of you. So my feedback is that I'd love to read and discuss this book.
I agree, Chris. This is a book I would commit to reading and hanging in the discussion to the end.



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Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:51 pm
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Thanks for the feedback, Saffron. :)



Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:41 am
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Okay....this is my first time suggesting books for us to read, and I love almost all books and don't mind which one to read, I came up with two different kind of books that we could discuss. One reason why I chose these three, is that these books looked interesting and the subjects is something that I am interested in reading (in nonfiction books of course).
If you are into reading about the dealings in Wall Street:
The Big Short: by Michael Lewis
The author of the signature bestseller Liar's Poker explains how the event we were told was impossible--the free fall of the American economy--finally occurred; how the things that we wanted, like ridiculously easy money and greatly expanded home ownership, were vehicles for that crash; and how shareholder demand for profit forced investment executives to eat the forbidden fruit of toxic derivatives.
The Critics: Amazon: Bookmarks Magazine "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."

If you are interested in sports, and football is your favorite then this is the book for you:
Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees
From Amazon Publisher's Weekley: "When a potentially career-ending shoulder injury left quarterback Drew Brees without a team—and facing the daunting task of having to learn to throw a football all over again—coaches around the NFL wondered, Will he ever come back? After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, leaving more than 80 percent of the city underwater, many wondered, Will the city ever come back? And with their stadium transformed into a makeshift refugee camp, forcing the Saints to play their entire 2005 season on the road, people questioned, Will the Saints ever come back? It takes a special person to turn adversity into success and despair into hope—yet that is exactly what Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees has done—and with the weight of an entire city on his shoulders. Coming Back Stronger is the ultimate comeback story, not only of one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, but also of a city and a team that many had all but given up on. Brees’s inspiring message of hope and encouragement proves that with enough faith, determination, and heart, you can overcome any obstacle life throws your way and not only come back, but come back stronger."

What do you think?



Wed Aug 11, 2010 2:32 pm
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
NY152, please read the entire first post - the rules.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
I could get behind the Evolution of God. DWill has mentioned this book quite a number of times and it sounds very interesting.

Edit: Just to clarify, I will participate in a discussion of The Evolution of God if there are at least five others who own the book and are willing to commit to a discussion. I have only been in a handful of discussions here and two of them drizzled out due to lack of participation.


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Last edited by geo on Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
The Big Short sounds interesting. I enjoyed Liar's Poker by the same author.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Everyone, please read the rules.



Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:36 am
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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
We're getting next to no suggestions right now. How do you all feel about fast-forwarding and selecting "The Evolution of God" right now so we can all order our copies and start reading?



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
Chris OConnor wrote:
We're getting next to no suggestions right now. How do you all feel about fast-forwarding and selecting "The Evolution of God" right now so we can all order our copies and start reading?

I vote for this suggestion. I am getting a copy either way, so, count me in.



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Post Re: Sept. & Oct. NON-FICTION book suggestions
I've read it and would like to discuss it. Robert tulip said he was reading it, too.



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