Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

What are you reading? Feb 6, 2013

For those who are new … we discuss books.  I list what I’m reading, and people comment with what they’re reading.  Sometimes, on Sundays, I post a special edition on a particular genre or topic.

If you like to trade books, try bookmooch

I’ve written some book reviews on Yahoo Voices:

Book reviews on Yahoo

Just finished

Nothing this week

Now reading

Cooler Smarter: Practical tips for low carbon living  by the scientists at Union of Concerned Scientists, a great group. These folk make sense, concentrating on the changes you can make that have the biggest impact with the least effort.

Thinking, fast and slow  by Daniel Kahneman.  Kahneman, most famous for his work with the late Amos Tversky, is one of the leading psychologists of the times. Here, he posits that our brains have two systems: A fast one and a slow one. Neither is better, but they are good at different things. This is a brilliant book: Full of insight and very well written, as well.

What hath God wrought? by Daniel Walker Howe. Subtitled “The transformation of America 1815-1848. I am reading this with the History group at GoodReads.  This is very well written, and does a good job especially with coverage of the treatment of Blacks and Native Americans.

The hard SF renaissance  ed. by David G. Hartwell.  A large anthology of “hard” SF from the 90’s and 00’s. I think Hartwell takes SF a bit too seriously, but the stories are good.

On politics: A history of political thought from Herodotus to the present by Alan Ryan. What the subtitle says – a history of political thought.  

Far from the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity by Andrew Solomon.

The title comes from the phrase “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. This book is about apples (children) who did fall far from the tree (parents). This book got amazing reviews and it grabbed me from the opening:

“There is no such thing as reproduction. When two people decide to have a baby, they engage in an act of production, and the widespread use of the word reproduction for this activity, with its implication that two people are but braiding themselves together, is at best a euphemism to comfort prospective parents before they get in over their heads”

I don’t agree with all that Solomon says, but this is a book to make you think about deep questions of humanity.

Rayburn: A Biography by D. B. Hardeman. A very admiring look at Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the House.  Hardeman has an odd but readable style, mostly in that he overuses this structure “the” (adjective) (state adjective) form (e.g. “the crusty Texan”, “the wily Missourian”) to an extent that’s almost comical.

He, she and it… by Marge Percy. Really only a couple pages into it, but it’s near future dystopian SF set on Earth.

Just started

A reread of Ringworld by Larry Niven, an SF story about a world that is a ring around a sun.


  1. DeniseVelez

    Double Passage: The Lives of Caribbean Migrants Abroad and Back Home, by anthropologist George Gmelch

    Based mainly on oral histories of 13 Barbadians who migrated to Britain and North America, this book argues cogently that the experiences of these migrants and the forces influencing them are more diverse than most studies assume. Gmelch ( The Irish Tinkers: Urbanization of an Itinerant People ) writes smoothly, first explaining the history and culture of Barbados, then analyzing patterns of West Indian migration. Clearly a sensitive interviewer, Gmelch has elicited insightful stories: one migrant to England found Africans more prejudiced than whites; another returned with a newfound sense of her black identity, and a student in Canada made a lifelong friend of a classmate. Particularly interesting are the thoughts of leading Barbadian journalist John Wickham, who returned to decry his country’s “rampant nationalism,” and of calypso musician The Mighty Gabby, who gained his political education in Manhattan’s garment district and returned home a protest singer. Gmelch concludes by exploring trends in his subjects’ experiences; unlike most social scientists, he concludes that return migrants do contribute new ideas to their home society

    It is an excellent ethnographic  study – those engaged in the immigration debate here often forget to include  immigrants who are not Latino, and  many social analysts fail to examine migration to Canada and Britan.

  2. blue jersey mom

    initial settlement of North America by Native Americans. I am doing a reading course with a grad student and another faculty member in our department. We hope to develop this into a real course in 2014-15.

  3. Jk2003

    Mission To Paris by Alan Furst

    Spy novel set in Paris at the start of WWII

    I am a fiction reader.  The news is all the nonfiction I can take.  Whenever I read these diaries I am jealous of all the book learning you guys are doing but then I remember that I’ll never make it all the way through those books.    

  4. iriti

    Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman. Fascinating snippets about very odd studies in psychology.

    I’ve been fascinated lately by books on old books/documents lost and then found. Recently finished nonfiction titles on this theme include:

    The Archimedes Codex by Reviel Netz & William Noel

    The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman

    Out of the Flames by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone

    The Voynich Manuscript by Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill

    Lost Rights by David Howard

    The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen

    When I finish my current book I’m going to make another stab at reading some fiction. This time I’ve found a couple of British and Historical (and British Historical) mystery series and bought the first in each series. We’ll see.

  5. ChurchofBruce

    I read what’s assigned :).

    At the moment? Wordsworth for my Romanticism class, Philip Larkin for my contemporary Poetry class.

    This isn’t a complaint; I love this stuff. Especially Wordsworth. Though I do have a Wordsworth paper due Friday, which isn’t as much fun as just reading him–assuming it doesn’t snow a foot on Friday, which it might :).

  6. bubbanomics

    on my last trip. About halfway through thinking fast and slow.  Reading Getting Wasted by T. Vander Ven and Max Plus at Work for my research.

  7. Mnemosyne

    I picked up an old (1993) Ian Rankin book Witch Hunt. Suspense-thriller, sort of Rankin meets John LeCarre (ha! diacritical marks that look just fine in typing don’t transition to Preview). A reference early on to how a character was so advanced he was able to use a laptop, with a modem!!, made me chuckle.

    There was a terrific interview this morning on the Diane Rehm show with the bigorapher of Rosa Parks, which is also mentioned in Denise’s diary about her. So that goes on my list. Linkie to radio:

  8. JG in MD

    and Breyer’s vanilla ice cream and more Rachel and whichever kitteh shows up. G’night ev’ybuddy. It’s been fun!

  9. bill d

    I know, late to the party on that one.

    Not quite sure if I have ever read anything like it so far, rather enjoying it.

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