Books, Reviews, Misc .

Book Reviews: Another 10 Excellent Ones I’ve RE-Read Recently. (List 2)

Here are brief book reviews of ones I’ve chosen to RE-read in the last two or three years.  That means they’re worth a lot to me, because there’s a bunch of others I still need to read for the first time.

Book Reviews! Help yourself, brief reviews.

Here, in alphabetical order by authors’ last names, is the second half of the list. (See the first half here.)Brief book reviews - of books I've recently reread.

  1. Marty Klein: Sexual Intelligence.

[reviews: GoodreadsAmazon.]

Wise observations about a number of aspects of sexual life from an experienced and sensible therapist.

  1. Bhikhu Parekh: Gandhi: A Very Short Introduction.

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

These books (Oxford U Press “Very Short Introduction” series) have small print, so are actually longer than the size might indicate.  But the ones I’ve read are quite impressive. This one is.  Lots of serious work and very helpful perspectives.  See Richard Bauckham, “List 1“, on Jesus.

  1. Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras:   Nothing is Worth More Than This DayAge Doesn’t Matter Unless You’re a Cheese.    Don’t Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats.

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

I’ve probably been through the first one  8 or 10 times in the last three years.  It has been very therapeutic.  So have the other two, though they’ve gotten less of my time.  They are small but thick collections of very short quotations, one per page or two, from a great variety of persons (though largely from the USA).  Through 2021 I read the first two almost every day, 25 pages each.  It gives one a wide range of perspectives on these odd things called human life and culture. Sort of a mini-mini course in (mostly) recent personal philosophies of life.

  1. Thomas Picketty: Capital and Ideology

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

This book is a monster (the Conclusion starts on page 1035!), but a very helpful monster.  I’ve read nearly 200 pages, three times.  It’s economics, which has deep justice impacts, a major concern of Picketty’s. It’s strongly energized by intellectual strength and a great deal of research, and readably presented.  Highly credible, very important. I recommend as priorities the Introduction and Conclusion, and Ch 17 “Elements of a Participatory Socialism for the Twenty-First Century.”

  1. Thomas Pinker:  Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

Here’s another, smaller, monster (450 chock-full pages), but a very helpful one.  I’ve read close to half of it three times (beginning and ending).  The intervening pages are also important and look accessible.  He’s  stronger on his atheism than I think the evidence warrants; but he does know his stuff. This is a very hopeful, persuasive book written to encourage profound appreciation of human progress and of the attitudes and practices that have made progress possible.  It powerfully justifies confidence in, and commitment to, the work of science (the Enlightenment heritage) as it’s going on around us and has been for centuries.  It (like others on this list) is prophetic; we need it.

  1. Valerie Tarico: Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

She grew up fundamentalist Christian, graduated from Wheaton College (an Evangelical flagship) but now describes herself as atheist.  She does a number of very helpful treatments of favorite ideas of evangelicals / fundamentalists, bringing research and her own experience in support.   Good work, and genuine.

  1. Daniel L Smith-Christopher:  Micah: A Commentary

[Goodreads.   Amazon.]

Another where I’ve spent most of my time in the introductory and conclusory matters. Somewhat technical, but quite helpful.  We never know for sure what was going on in any other time, in any other culture, or even in city hall or the state capitol.  But this author is respected and to my mind quite credible.  From an anabaptist / mennonite perspective. He sees Micah as a small-town – rural highly motivated quite literate – and very direct – prophet who comes to the work of prophecy because of the way his rural people are suffering under the policies of the power- and financial elites in Jerusalem.

  1. Anthony Stevens:  Jung: A Very Short Introduction.

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

This Oxford University Press series is quite valuable. This treatment of Jung is longer and more substantial than Mark Vernon’s (below).

  1. Barbara Tuchman:  The March of Folly – From Troy to Vietnam

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

From the Pulitzer-winning author of  lots of well respected and accessible history. This pulls together examples ranging from long before  Christ (Troy, Rehoboam) through popes, King George against the Ameican colonies, and the US debacle in Vietnam.  She stipulates three requisites for such folly – that the policy be perceived as folly  at the time, that there be available a feasible alternative, that it be the policy of a group, not just a problem individual.  She’s not afraid to be judgmental about these historical episodes.

  1. Mark Vernon: How to Believe – Carl Jung.

[GoodreadsAmazon.]

Very short.  Touches the bases of Jung’s life and thought so you know where those bases are.
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