Friday, June 05, 2009

a couple of books

just finished up a couple of great books and thought someone out there might be looking for something to read.

the first one is called "hunting for hope" by Scott Russell Sanders.  this is a beautiful and short book.  Sanders is challenged by a conversation with his teenage son to share some hope about the world instead of his usual despair about the state of the environment and the decay of our western world.  Sanders comes up with (among others) 'wildness', 'family', 'fidelity', 'skill', simplicity', and 'beauty'.  the book is poetically written and a compelling narrative of a father-son mountain camping trip holds it all together.i highly recommend this book if you are looking for a tonic in the oftentimes hopeless sustainability discourse.

there are many quotable paragraphs - Sanders is certainly a poet at heart. here's one that gave me pause in the chapter on simplicity:

The simplicity I seek is not he enforced austerity of the poor, which I have seen up close, and which I do  not glamorize.  I seek instead the richness of a gathered and deliberate life, the richness that comes from letting one's belongings and commitments be few in number and high in quality.  I aim to preserve, in my ordinary days, the lightness and purpose that I have discovered on my clarifying journeys.

The second book is called "the brain that changes itself" by Norman Doidge.  thanks to Dan for the tip on this one.  incredibly helpful in understanding some of the ways we humans fail and succeed in our moral lives.  Doidge argues (convincingly!) that the brain is plastic at every stage of life and many of our beliefs about being "hardwired" are in fact completely false.   the most fascinating chapters deal with love, intelligence, sex, taste, imagination, and culture.  Doidge proposes that so many of our impulses are not set in stone (as we often argue - "it's just the way i am") but pliable and replaceable with other ways of being.  these are not just thought tricks but physiological renewal of the brain.  at over 400 pages this is not a quick read but well worth the effort if you have any interest in how humans behave (that should be all of you :)  his research on pornography and the internet and the damage done to marriages is alone worth reading.


1 comment:

billy said...

Thanks Geoff....the thoughts from the first book are encouraging to me as I'm beginning the work of crunching down a lot of very real and challenging life experiences over the last three is a helpful reminder and I think that that spirit (expressed here) has been able for the most part to sustain us....obviously, we always have to contend with our own hypocrisy and complicity...but I think we're beginning to distill a few areas of commitments where we can (hopefully) be "few in number and high in qaulity".........also, the second book looks very interesting, had a chance to look at that a bit today online.....glad to hear that there may be som hope that my brain can change and become more supple....keep up the grea research...