You’re Not That Great
by Daniel Crosby
Psychologist Daniel Crosby tells it like it is in this book about the numerous ways human nature can work against us, not the least of which is egoistic self-absorption (solipsism).
“The biggest finding to emerge from the self-esteem movement was that praise did not predict self-esteem, accomplishment did… Many of the theories about self-esteem that had impacted policy were simply junk science.” Continue reading
by Harry G. Frankfurt
“One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit.” Bullshit can refer to a number of things, including pointless tasks or requirements, but the main topic of this book is the widespread disregard for truth in speech and writing. Continue reading
Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School
Compiled and Edited by Carl Japikse
Benjamin Franklin is well known as an important figure in American history. He was a printer, publisher, postmaster, inventor, and ambassador. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But he also had a sense of humor. This book contains a collection of his humorous writing, including hoaxes and political satire. Much of these works were written anonymously or under pseudonyms, such as a Richard Saunders, publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack.
Here are some excerpts.
A Letter to the Royal Academy, 1781. The Royal Academy of Brusselles held a contest in which scientists submitted solutions to a given theoretical problem. Franklin submitted this suggestion for a contest theme with more practical value: “My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the Natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.”
by Kahlil Gibran
The Prophet offers wisdom on 26 topics—about three pages on each. Gibran writes in poetic prose with a liberal use of archaic words, presumably to sound biblical. Some of the meaning is immediately clear, while other parts require some reflection to decipher the deeper meaning.
On Work. The author stresses the importance of finding work you enjoy. “For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.”
On Marriage. Gibran observes that marriage is a union between individuals, not a merger. “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you… The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Continue reading
Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
by George Saunders
This book is an expanded version of a commencement speech to the Syracuse University class of 2013.
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” Continue reading
The ACME Catalog
by Charles Carney. Illustrations by Scott Grass
As seen on TV! ACME has been the preferred vendor of your favorite Looney Tunes characters for over 60 years. Continue reading
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing offers good advice about writing fiction, although the implicit theme pertains to any writing. Essentially, don’t let your writing style distract from what you are trying to say.
My favorite tip is #10: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”