Saturday, January 06, 2018

End of 2017 reading

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500 year history.  I found this book to be intriguing in many ways.  I learned a ton.  I'd never taken the time to consider how various stages of religious "fanatics" or "zealots" have shaped curious idiosyncrasies in America. And how the "stage" and the "side show" from Ringling Brothers and Circus and Buffalo Bill's Wild West shaped perceptions of American idea(l)s.  It was one of the best books I read in 2017 - and the best at the end of the year!

Optimal Thinking: How to be Your Best Self.  Nothing new here.  Mostly a waste of time for me - though, perhaps new for other readers who don't read in the either popular or academic psychology.  Not one I'd recommend.

Love Is the Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian about Hope, Humility and Everyday Miracles.  A fine audio-read while I was in airports and on flights.  Nothing remarkable.  I was captured by the sub-title - and some of the story telling was good - and a few stories touching.  Nothing profound.  The James Herriot books shaped my childhood reading - and I hoped this would be on par.  In fact, I need to get back to read some James Herriot.  I'll do that in 2018!

Run with Horses: The Quest for Life at Its Best - by Eugene H. Peterson.  Peterson is huge in the Christian world of books.  I value his Bible translation and him.  Much of his work though simply does not captivate me, as this did not.  I think it's because I know too much of the back story in Biblical studies that he slowly sets up . . . and I find myself bored.  Others love him! I note on Amazon (as I post this today) - his book has 5 stars - RARE for anything on Amazon.  I just don't read this as a 5 star, though again, I think that involves his style and what I bring to the task of reading.

Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.  I'll copy and paste the brief on the book from Amazon here.  It accurately states what the book encompasses.  I'm not "sold" on American Values being the only way - with my Christocentric ideas and framework around which I view the Kingdom of God (Priestly Kingdom/Holy Nation) of OT and NT biblical ideas.  I do agree with much of what Prager shares - though I think he oversimplifies the issues and fails to tie in greater potential for monotheistic issues and/or other religious influence simply not considered in his thesis.  From the publisher: "Dennis Prager contends that humanity confronts a monumental choice. The whole world must choose between American values and two oppositional alternatives: fundamentalist Islam and European-style democratic socialism. In this visionary book, Prager makes the case for the American values system as the most viable program ever devised to produce a good society. Still the Best Hope deals with three major themes, each vital to America's future. The first is perhaps the most persuasive explanation for why Leftism has been and will always be a moral failure, despite its appeal to many people of goodwill. The second explains why fundamentalist Islam also cannot make a good society—though Prager holds out hope for an open and tolerant Islam. The third is a persuasive defense of what Prager calls the "American Trinity": liberty, values rooted in the Creator, and the melting-pot ideal."

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