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September 2002 - Suggest a book! 
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Post September 2002 - Suggest a book!
BookTalk Members:

So what shall we read in September 2002?

It would be ideal if we could get some suggestions right away, and then have a poll and a final decision by the 15th of this month. In fact, that will be the new schedule every month.

If we have the Book of the Month selected by the 15th of each month we will all have plenty of time to go out and either buy the book or check it out from the local library.

An idea...

"The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense" by Michael Shermer

Shermer attacks superstition and bad science in most of his works. This book delves into the grey area between real science, such as the Big Bang, and borderland science, such as superstring theory, and then pseudoscience, such as Big Foot. It's all about learning to differentiate between the three.

It might be a nice follow-up to Sagan's book, but is also might be a bit too much for those members not fascinated by the science vs. mysticism debate. It's a suggestion and not one I feel very strongly about.

So let's hear some great ideas!

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."

-- Leonardo da Vinci

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 8/4/02 4:36:53 pm



Sun Aug 04, 2002 4:25 pm
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Post Re: September 2002 - Suggest a book!
Well, I am new here, but I do have a suggestion:

Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond.

This is a wonderful anthropology book, and Diamond presents some great theories about societies. In particular, he addresses the issue of why white european culture has become, arguably, the dominant force in society.

This question has been asked by others, but what makes Diamond unique is that he doesn't stress, as some do, that white european society is in any way better than other cultures. For instance, one of his theories is that white european culture evolved on latitudinal lines, rather than longitudinal. It is easier for a society to spread while staying in similar climates.

Anyway, I just enjoyed hearing an explanation for the prevalence of white european culture on the planet, without any arguments based on race or racism. If you look up this book on Amazon or someplace, you might find a better explantion of it than I have given here.

The chapters describing the decrease in population amongst native americans, both in North and South America, after the europeans came, will send chills down your spine.

Oh, another good book is A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. This is a look at the entirety of U.S. history, but from the point of view of the common person, rather than from the perspective of the rich and powerful. You'll see U.S. history from the point of view of native americans, slaves, women, laborers, etc. The people whose voices are rarely heard in standard histories.

Edited by: AckItsJamie at: 8/4/02 5:51:44 pm



Sun Aug 04, 2002 5:34 pm


Post Re: September 2002 - Suggest a book!
I disagree with the idea of reading the Shermer book right now. It's too similar to The Demon Heunted World in subject and scope. I'm sure it's a great book that'd be interesting to read (and we can certainly keep it in mind for a later selection), but BookTalk needs to promenently display its eclecticism and flexibility during these opening months. Two books in a row on essentially the same subject(s) doesn't do that.

The Jared Diamond book - Guns, Germs, and Steel - sounds good; anthropology should be a nice departure from a book on heavy rationalist philosophy like The Demon Haunted World. Another one to consider is Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel, which is the memoir of a Harvard-educated, genius-level IQ writer who suffered from clinical depression from the time she was 12 until she was 22. It's absolutely facinating (and at times infuriating - few can be as pathetically self-absorbed as a true depressive).


G




Mon Aug 05, 2002 9:08 am
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Post Re: September 2002 - Suggest a book!
Greg:

I'll agree with you on that. Shermer's book is indeed similar to Sagan's. I like both Jamie's suggestion and yours. Let's see what other people have to say. There were quite a few BookTallk members in the beginning that it doesn't appear are active here anymore. I'll send them some emails and try to attract them back...now that we are on some different books.

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."

-- Leonardo da Vinci




Mon Aug 05, 2002 12:41 pm
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Post Great Books
How about one of the "Great Books"? These are books that have changed the course of thought or sometimes even history.

As Carl Sagan states in the preface to "The Demon Haunted World"...

"At the University of Chicago, I also was lucky enough to go through a general education program devised by Robert M. Hutchins, where science was presented as an integral part of the gorgeous tapestry of human knowledge. It was considered unthinkable for an aspiring physicist not to know Plato, Aristotle, Bach, Shakespeare, Gibbon, Malinowski, and Freud - among many others."

Mortimer Adler is a Philosophy Prof. who popularized the notion of the great books & the great ideas. Here is his list of great books (there are other lists).

www.literarycritic.com/adler.htm

It's difficult to get started on some of these books without motivation from a group, plus these are not exactly cocktail party conversation starters either, ay? - i.e. it's not easy to find someone to talk about them.




Mon Aug 05, 2002 8:30 pm
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Post Re: Great Books
LanDroid:

Wow...fantastic idea! I've thought about this myself many times. If we can get others interested in reading a book from that list I would be ecstatic. Let's see what feedback we get from the rest of the people here.

I just skimmed the list and I do want to make a suggestion. We should keep it light. Many of these monsters will scare away even the most avid of readers. If we do choose a classic we should choose carefully. In fact, it might be wise to have a separate thread under either the Nonfiction or Fiction forums in the Additional Readings category for these types of books.

I've thought about creating a forum for the Bible too. No matter what your religious beliefs are it could be very educational to read the Bible in it's entirety seeing as we live in a predominantly Christian nation. I've started and stopped so many times that it might be fun to trudge through this book with some people for moral support. LOL I would want to take it VERY slow with no pressure and no expectations if we were to do this. My main focus would be on our Book of the Month and on maybe a nice fiction book from the Additional Readings category...once people have selected one.

Everyone:

I was thinking today of some additional book ideas...

"Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandella"

"The Autobiography of Malcolm X"

If anyone has the e-mail addresses for some of the people that have posted here at BookTalk and now seem to have disappeared...please let me know. I would like to try to get them back on the site and active now that we have some stuff going on here. Thanks!

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."

-- Leonardo da Vinci




Tue Aug 06, 2002 7:25 pm
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Post Suggestions

All of the suggestions mentioned sound good to me. Might I suggest we try a book AND a short story/essay a month?

We could start reading the Bible one "book", or chapter, a month...along with our monthly novel. Good discussion material there. I wouldn't mind reading the Koran eventually, as well.




Wed Aug 07, 2002 3:33 pm
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Post Re: Suggestions
I'm especially interested in reading something in science or philosophy. There are quite a few of the "great books" that interest me, specifically Treatise of Human Nature by Hume or Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin. But I'm open to anything.

I've spent most of my life reading and studying the Bible, but I would actually be quite interested in reading it again. I imagine that I will read it very differently now than I have in the past. Also, if we do so it would be nice if we all use the same version and preferably one that is considered more accurately translated by secular sources rather than the KJV or one published by a particular religion. I also like the idea of reading the Koran. I've wanted to do that for a long time.

Cheryl




Wed Aug 07, 2002 7:35 pm
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Post Re: Suggestions
I'll create a poll as soon as I can see some clear choices we are deciding between. We should try to stick with the plan of having our Book of the Month decided upon by the 15th of the month.

Chris

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been, and there you will always want to be."

-- Leonardo da Vinci




Wed Aug 07, 2002 8:07 pm
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Post Re: Suggestions
I agree if we choose a "great book" it should be on the lighter side, don't think 700 pages of hardcore philosophy would go over well - it will take a little research.

I might be interested in the Bible & Koran as a side discussion. I've tried to read the Bible about four times, but never even made it through Genesis! You know you're in trouble when the second chapter repeats the creation story in the first and changes it slightly. I've known a few people who read the Bible every year, there are printed schedules for accomplishing that, but dunno if I'll ever make it.




Wed Aug 07, 2002 9:02 pm
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Post Re: Suggestions
We could certainly start a reading and discussion of religious texts in the "non-fiction" forum (no smartass comments on that, please) of the Additional Readings section. Like Lauren and I are doing in the "fiction" forum, it could be a who-ever-feels-like-it discussion, separate from our official Book of the Month.


G




Mon Aug 12, 2002 9:51 am
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