It’s been a while since I have mentioned any of the books I have been reading since the five hundred page Gandhi autobiography debacle. For those of you not around catch up here. It was not pretty. Five hundred pages and six weeks of agonizing torture to get through the tome almost turned me off books for good. Well, that is a total exaggeration. So here is a list and a brief blurb about the books I have read since. It has been a good run.
Right after Gandhi, I went Zen and read Creating true Peace by Thich Nhat Hanah. The books sub-title is ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your community, and The World. I love Hanh’s style and although I have read about five of his books, I still never tire of his message. He insightfully and passionately lays the groundwork for how we can lead more mindful lives. He gives expert advice on how to live in the present on a day-to-day basis. In this book he focuses on how we can rid ourselves of anger and foster non-violence in our everyday interactions, thus opening the door to spreading non-violence to those outside our immediate selves. So if you are like me and you find yourself angry and helpless watching the world go by, this is a great book to help you find a way to deal with the suffering of the world.
Worthwhile Quote: You cannot be called a civilized person if you do not act responsibly. To be responsible means to love.
Next it was time to get back to fiction. I hadn’t read a novel in a very long time, and I was tired of reading so much about politics and religion. I needed a good story and Zadie Smith did not let me down with White Teeth, so I finally picked up On Beauty. This book did exactly what I needed it to do. While it tackles some pretty deep themes like race, liberalism versus conservationism, fidelity and the role of the academic in society, she does this in a style that is a pure pleasure to read. Smith is a master storyteller and her use of language offers a fresh new sound from the mouth of a new generation.
Worthwhile Quote: Try walking down the street with fifteen Haitians if you want to see people get uncomfortable.
Next was Jonathan Franzen’s latest Discomfort Zone. After I read The Corrections, I went out and bought everything Franzen has ever written. I have also kept my ear attuned to be on the alert as soon as he has something new in the bookstore. I love his style, his intellectual fluidity, and artistic passion. Franzen makes me want to be smarter. His latest batch of short stories/essays deals with his growing up, life in junior high, high school and death of his mother. While the content is not as remarkable as his last collection, How To Be Alone, his style is enough to keep one reading. Franzen is the writer’s writer. If you read not for the sake of appreciating style and craft, then this book will satisfy.
Worthwhile Quote: The game of art. Which begins as a bid for attention, eventually invites you to pursue it for its own sake, with a seriousness that redeems and is redeemed by its fundamental uselessness.
Which brings us to the present, and yes, I couldn’t help it I am back to some non-fiction. I found this book while muddling around on the net and it is a must read for anyone interested in the state of the world. Although I am only about halfway done with this book, I feel the need to endorse it whole-heartedly. The Bu$h Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time is fluid in its style, compete in its content, and brimming with facts that will make your jaw drop. Anotonia Juhasz has a simple thesis: the US through the arms of the IMF and World Bank is systemically crippling economies in order to extend the markets for US corporations. She outlines a chilling pattern of behavior from companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, Chevron, and Lockheed Martin, who by the way now control the global market on: construction, oil, weapons, nuclear energy, water, and electricity. She exposes the link between members of the Bush administration and the boards of these corporations. She also build a strong case about the destructive power of globalization on developing countries as a result of policies of the IMF and World bank. If you have a feeling that Halliburton and the IMF are bad guys, but not really sure why, then this is a must read book for you. It is written in a simple and easy to follow prose, that does not alienate the non-intellectual or highly politicized reader. If enough people in the US read this country there would be a revolution. We are being man handled by a group of thieves and liars. If you read this blog: READ THIS BOOK!
Worthwhile Quote: The result will be in creased in equality and devastation for people, communities, and nations, while extreme wealth and profit are concentrated in to the hands of a shrinking pool of corporate and political elites.