All In the Family

All In the Family

What would it take to build a dynasty? To gather together ambitious relatives, pump out ambitious children and use your collective skill to own a good chunk of the world? You'd figure these people would just wind up killing each other in the end, but some can make it work. I don't quite have the same drive […]

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The How and the Why: Stanley Fish

Stanley Fish

I like to think of myself as a rather well-read person, but I had not heard of Stanley Fish until I picked up his latest book. Turns out, he's a bit of a polymath and Dean Emeritus at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIC, among other posts. While Fish writes a great deal about English literature and […]

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Firestarters

Firestarters

Politicians, activists, blowhards, pundits, loudmouths and the like all pretend to think they're on the vanguard of a glorious revolution. One quick dip into history proves it's all been done before. Just when you think you've been inspired, you hear about someone who was led by the messages of angels. Donald Spoto's Joan follows Joan of Arc […]

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Notorious RBG and the Supremes

Supremes

In honor of Women's History Month, here's a look at books by or about the women who've served as Supreme Court justices. No Supreme Court justice in living memory has generated the following that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has. She's achieved almost cult-like status among liberals and progressives, particularly the young. The apex of this may be […]

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How Do We Know That?

How Do We Know That

The world can be an unknowable blob, and we just can't figure it out. Whether it be history, science, psychology or whatever, unraveling how we know what we know can be just as confusing as knowing the stuff to begin with. That's why I'm fascinated by books about the research and discovery we use to learn […]

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Road to Character Reading List Part 2

Irish Road

Last week, I told you about The Road to Character by David Brooks. Well, I couldn't resist adding an additional post about more people profiled in that book, and what they left us. For last week's post, click here. Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the name George Eliot, had a tendency to misplace her affections until […]

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The Black National Anthem and the Multitalented Men Who Wrote It

J. Rosamond Johnson (l) with his brother James Weldon Johnson 
Source: ASCAP, Wikipedia

James Weldon Johnson is often called the Renaissance Man of the Harlem Renaissance—with good reason. The author of the novel The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man, he was also a respected poet, newspaper columnist, diplomat and the first black leader of the NAACP. But he is perhaps best known for writing the lyrics to the stirring […]

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Road to Character Reading List

Bookshelf 1

David Brooks' latest book, The Road to Character, talks about virtue in the era of what he calls "The Big Me." There are resume virtues that are good for finding a job or advancing in the world, and there are eulogy virtues, like kindness, faithfulness, self-control, and so on. Brooks holds that without the eulogy virtues, […]

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13 Ways Advertisers Lie To You. #8 Will Blow Your Mind!

Marketing

Did you actually click on that? What's wrong with you? What have you ever learned from clickbait? But now that I've caught you, here are some books that might actually show you how marketers trick your brain into wanting all the things they have for sale. Nothing screams good marketing like classic American flimflam. John R. […]

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Think Deep Thoughts: Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is enjoying a bit of a renaissance with her latest collection of essays: Men Explain Things to Me. The title essay explores how Solnit and women in general tend to assume that men are more knowledgeable on a subject than they are, even when the woman is the expert. This essay gave rise to […]

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