Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What I'm Reading

I've got a new slew of books that I'm diving into this summer, any one of which would be a good book to discuss with a group. The nominees for book-of-the-summer-months include:
  • The Not So Big Life, by Sarah Susanka. After hearing Ms. Susanka on the radio, I sensed a kindred spirit who is putting spiritual truths into everyday language. The best-selling architect describes how constructing a satisfying life is not that different from building a good house: rather than piling on more and more stuff we don't want or need, we need to simplify, removing the unnecessary and focusing on what really matters. If this sounds like the blurb of every self-help book you've ever read, don't be deceived; Susanka is not merely spouting platitudes, but rather has some real sophistication and depth in her approach. The message is not that different from the via negativa that Augie Turak might describe, although the tone is significantly different. Augie's description's of spiritual life are unrelentingly intense, while Susanka is composed and relaxed. (500 words: Compare and contrast. Go!)
  • Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, by Soren Kierkegaard. If you want to crank up the intensity, look no further than Kierkegaard, who got the "founder of existentialism" label for a reason. Kierkegaard has the audacity to take the Gospel seriously, and he deconstructs Christ's commandments with insightful psychology and an unwaveringly look at how demanding it really is. Kierkegaard, too, is calling for simplicity and integrity, but with no holds barred.
  • How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker. Kenny Felder and Augie Turak turned me on to Pinker with The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, and I've moved on to get more of his solid cognitive science wrapped in witty and readable prose. Warning: Pinker is so persuasive in his thorough scientific-ness that he'll make a materialist if you don't pay close attention. But Richard Rose once defined meditation as "thinking about thinking," and that's exactly what Pinker does.
  • Software Testing Foundations, by Spillner, Linx, and Schefer. (Just kidding.)
  • I Am a Strange Loop, by Douglas Hofstadter. The Pulitzer-Prize winning Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid set the standard for really smart, really deep, really fun books that are not only worth engaging, but almost require a group of people to read it because there's so much stuff. Now Hofstadter is back, decades later, with a book focused solely on the question of consciousness. I'd love to have some help with this one.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I mean, who isn't reading it? I've had enough intelligent conversations about Harry Potter with Kenny to convince me that it should be good fare for conversation, and will give you something to talk about with most of the literate world. And it might be slightly more upbrow than Stephan King.

What are you reading this summer?



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