Thursday, February 4, 2016

Current and Recent Readings: Too Many Books, Too Little Time

There really are so many good books out there. We read them for different reasons. Some serve as simply a diversion. Others provide nutrition for our souls. Still others give our "brain muscles" a workout. Here are a few books that I've been enjoying right now or recently completed.

Symmetry by Marcus du Sautoy
I picked up this gem after recently re-reading my interview with Portuguese artist Margarida Sardinha regarding her 2015 project Symmetry's Portal which led me into revisiting (via books) the remarkable features of The Alhambra.

The Red Book by Carl Jung
The Amazon listing about this volume calls it "the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology." My friend Dan introduced me to this hefty volume so I could see the illustrations, more than 200 in all. But the substance is Jung's private wrestling with the meaning of Self, consciousness and universal truths about who we are. Four decades ago I read Jung's Memories, Dreams and Reflections and was impressed with his candor.

50 Philosophy Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon
I finished the audiobook in December. Having found it to be such a valuable resource I purchased the paper version to use as a reference. A great thought-stimulator. Useful tool for stirring up themes to cogitate upon so you can produce the illusion that you're a deep thinker.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Exceptionally insightful.  Listened to the audiobook this past month and will do it again. Utilizes insights from the latest research in neuroscience. Compelling stories bring home essential truths. Yes, we're creatures of habit, and when those habits are bad ones we need to apply ourselves to cultivating new ones. We begin by becoming aware of our triggers.

Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
Duhigg's book uses stories from a variety of sources. One of these sources was Claude Hopkins, an influential ad man from the first half of the twentieth century. I'd read Hopkins many years ago because my own advertising guru, David Ogilvy, consider Hopkins his own shining light. Were you aware that it was an ad campaign by Claude Hopkins that prodded a whole nation of people to regularly brush their teeth?

Illustration from The Red Book
The Light on Synanon by Dave Mitchell, Cathy Mitchell and Richard Ofshe
Current bedtime reading. When I read it in the early 1990's it triggered an idea for a story which later became an unproduced screenplay. Still gonna try to resurrect that project if I live long enough.

Rocket Men by Craig Nelson
Currently reading this one as I commute. Absolutely compelling thus far. Reminds us of the context when that first moonshot took place, during the Cold War. The Russians had already embarrassed us with Sputnik and other achievements. A moon landing would be a major PR coup, which really amounted to a "puff our chests out" opportunity to gloat. Had the Russians been first on the moon would that have meant Soviet communism was superior to our democratic capitalism? Rocket Men is an excellent addition to the many other books about the story of NASA. An good follow up to Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff. (EdNote: A few reviews on Amazon indicate that this book may not be entirely reliable in all its facts, though for now it's been a good read.)

* * * *
What are you reading these days?

No comments: