So I'm thinking of a relatively short non fiction book for the coming month, here are my top three ideas:
Deer Hunting with Jesus - Joe Bagaent
Adam Eve and the Serpent - Elaine Pagels
A Mind of Its Own - Cordelia Fine
followed by these
They Shoot Canoes Don't They? - Pat McManus
Mindless Eating - Brian Wansink
I've read/own all these, and I think you could have decent discussion on all of them. I'll start a poll in this topic on Wednesday, so you have until then to offer suggestions that fit the category of short nonfiction
A collection of essays from a leftist redneck, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War is an often stunning screed against republicans, democrats and all the idiots who are letting this country fall apart. The book explains hunting to leftists, explains liberals to dittoheads and attempts to navigate a contentious and contrarian viewpoint on the state of america. Primarily, though, the book pleads for some understanding and accord to be forged between upper-crust liberals and the working class former democrats, and he's especially caustic in railing against the party that has abandoned their less well educated and less savory historical base.
An investigation into how christianity as we know it today has developed their conceptions of original sin, sexuality, and the place and position of women in life as well as in religion, Adam, Eve and the Serpent: Sex and Politics in Early Christianity shows that the attitudes we have now have complex origins that have mutated in some ways quite far from the asceticism of the early church. Because so much of christianity's fearful attitude towards sex is based on Augustine's re-interpretation of Genesis in the third or fourth century, the book also addresses Genesis as well as the politics and beliefs of the early church.
You think you know how you make decisions, but in A Mind of it's Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives you learn that you probably make your decision subconsciously instantly and then filter and subtly interpret information to support that decision, and after that process is done your conscious brain is then told it has come to a decision based on the fact finding you just did. What you'll never know is that your fact finding was prejudiced from the beginning. You saw what you wanted to see, heard what you wanted to hear, read what you wanted to read. And having read this, your first reaction is going to be, "yes, but I'm not as susceptible to that as most people, because I'm smart and careful in my decision making" and then the book will helpfully point out that people who think this about themselves are actually more susceptible because they have a blind spot. A fascinating journey through the mind that will have you developing what Tiffany Aching might call "Second Thoughts" and "Third Thoughts" to watch the second thoughts. (note to bias others in favor of this one, this is my choice as I think this book is a must read for most everyone)
For decades, Pat McManus has been writing a monthly humorous story column for Outdoor Life, They Shoot Canoes, Don't They is a collection (one of many) of those essays, sometimes expanded for the book. In the best tradition of outdoorsman, the book is filled with exaggerations and outright lies, but it's all in the name of great storytelling. While this doesn't make me laugh as hard as his essays did in middle school, I still find them appealing and comforting reads. My favorites will always be his almost unbelievable reminescences of growing up in the backwoods of Idaho (iirc) when they had no money but he still managed to have a lot of adventures with a variety of improbable characters that are almost certainly fictitious.
A book that is somewhat similar to A Mind of it's Own, Mindless Eating: Why we Eat More than we Think is a fascinating, breezy and very funny look at the science of why we eat what we eat and the science behind getting us to eat more. The book offers very little in the way of solutions to eat smarter or eat less, but it's an eye opening text nonetheless.
Talk about anything under the sun or stars - but keep it civil. This is where we really get to know each other. Everyone is welcome, and invited!
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