The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis

the weight of glory cs lewis book cover

A collection of essays, lectures, and sermons from C.S. Lewis

Most readers of this blog will be familiar with the work of C.S. Lewis via his children’s fantasy series “The Chronicles of Naria.” Lewis was also a prolific nonfiction writer. “Mere Christianity” is probably his most well-known work in this category. The Oxford and Cambridge professor was frequently invited to give public lectures, radio addresses, and sermons. “The Weight of Glory” is largely a collection of these various talks and includes some things not previously published.

Note: If you are a Lewis fan and decide to check this book out, make sure you get the one titled “The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses” which is a revised and expanded edition. It also includes four additional essays and an introduction from Walter Hooper, a man who lived with and assisted Lewis for a few months prior to his death.


The book’s title is taken from the first chapter/selection in this collection, which was a sermon given at Oxford University Church. It is a surprisingly deep and moving address that I revisit often. Other talks and essays include topics such as:

  • A critique of pacifism
  • The importance of learning, even in times of chaos/world war/upheaval
  • Inner circles
  • Forgiveness


Even with this very brief write-up, I know you’ll have picked up by now if this book is for you or not. Some won’t be interested (based on the spiritual/Christian themes) while others will greatly enjoy this eclectic collection. Lewis was an interesting figure, thinker, and persuader. If you have read and enjoyed his other more eclectic books – “The Screwtape Letters” and “The Great Divorce” – then I’m certain you will enjoy this collection.


The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien

The epic of all epics

What can be said about The Lord of the Rings (LotR) that hasn’t already been said? It is at or near the top of almost all “best novels” lists, including the top 100 reading list that can be found in this blog. It has apparently sold over 150 million copies and been translated into 56 languages. Lord of the Rings is considered in the high-fantasy epic genre/style but has appealed to many who don’t usually read fantasy novels.

If you haven’t read the book(s), then it’s likely you’ve seen the movie adaptations – or at least are familiar with the topics and themes due to its prevalence in pop culture. Because of that, I won’t go into much detail about such things. Even if I wanted to, it would be really difficult to try and fit a short and sweet summary into a single paragraph or two, especially since this novel clocks in at over 1100 pages in total (!) and is usually broken up into three volumes. This novel is probably the best illustration of the “hero’s journey” type of story that I’ve encountered.


I had put off reading this book until just recently due to the sheer length of it. I’m glad I finally decided to check it out. I highly recommend it, but feel that I need to make a disclaimer. There are times in the course of the story where it feels a little bogged down in the details and can be hard to follow along with all the various names and places (especially since characters and places often have multiple names that are used interchangeably). This might frustrate some readers to the point that they can’t fully enjoy the story.

Here’s a link to the Wiki article on the book. You can learn more about Tolkien (and find ways to connect with fans across the globe) on the Tolkien Society website.

God: A Human History – Reza Aslan

god human history reza aslan

A book to challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in your life

Where does belief in God come from? How has the concept of God, or gods, evolved throughout human history? Why are we so prone to make God in our own image? Author and religion scholar Reza Aslan addresses these questions and more in this book.


The quest for the divine – Where does the impulse to seek the divine come from? The author explores what we know about the beginnings of human history, what our ancestors must have been like, and their hunter-gatherer lifestyle. He concludes that animism “is very likely humanity’s earliest expression of anything that could be termed religion.” Aslan makes a case for cave paintings largely being an expression of seeking the divine, as well as stone pillars and alters.

What are the origins of religion? – Can the development of religion be explained by Darwinism, experiences of awe and transcendence, the search for meaning, cultural/social developments, biological/psychological adaptation? The author explores each of these lines of thinking and the faults with each.

The agricultural revolution – Did the change from hunter-gatherer to agriculture based society bring about religion, or is the opposite true? Aslan describes the oldest known temple site of any kind at Gobekli Tepe, going back at least 12,000 years, which predates the rise of agriculture (and writing as we know it).

Humanized gods – Why is anthropomorphism so dominant in the majority of religions, especially ancient religions and mythology? We have a natural urge to explain the divine using the same emotions, motivations, and needs that we have as humans.

Polytheism to monotheism and beyond – Aslan traces the history of polytheism in Mesopotamia and the various forms of this to the development of monotheism practiced in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He also explores other views of theism, dualism, and spiritual practices that aren’t based on a traditional notion of God.


This is a very well documented book that will likely make many uncomfortable – theists and atheists, believers and non-believers alike. Though scholarly, it is still very readable and avoids the excessive antagonistic and/or condescending tone that many contemporary critics of religion use. I really appreciate the perspective Reza Aslan brings to the discussion about religion and spirituality. He will also likely surprise you with his own admission of belief. I definitely recommend this book.

Find out more about the author on his website here. That is also where you can find info about his other books and projects.

Talking to Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell

malcolm gladwell talking to strangers

Subtitled: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know

What can I possibly say about Malcolm Gladwell that hasn’t already been said? You either love him or hate him and I’m in the camp that really enjoys his books and podcasts. While I don’t always agree with him, I do appreciate how he brings a different perspective to topics. Talking to Strangers feels a lot like his Revisionist History podcast. It begins and ends with the case of Sandra Bland, while taking a detour in the middle to discuss the different ways where we go wrong when humans interact with each other.


When the pros get it wrong – Gladwell discusses the history of Adolph Hitler and how many European leaders completely misread and misunderstood the rising leader, much to the detriment of the continent. He also brings to light how the CIA was continuously outwitted by Castro and the Cubans.

Defaulting to truth – Why is it that we can’t pick up on the Bernie Madoff types that scheme people out of millions or Larry Nassar types that abuse so many? The author makes a case that we generally have a high threshold for detecting when things are amiss.

Misreading – We like to think that we can get a good read of others, but there are many times where this goes wrong. And when it goes wrong it can lead to disastrous results and huge mistakes like the Amanda Knox case.

Coupling – Are places and actions more connected than we assume? There are important lessons we can learn from this regarding things like suicide and crime.


I’ve read most of Gladwell’s books and this one is near the top. Some parts seem forced as I’m not sure all of the contents really fit, but I don’t mind the meandering style. There are some takes in this book that I’m sure will be seen as controversial, but that is what the author does. If you haven’t read a book by him yet, this probably isn’t the best one to start with. All in all, I liked this one, the various case studies in it, and the perspective Gladwell brings. I’ll put it on the recommended list.

For all things Gladwell, head over to his website here. There, you’ll find ways to purchase his books and listen to the podcasts.

Rebuilding A Reading Habit

Guest post from Aaron Eischeid

For 2019, as part of a goal to develop a habit of reading more, I set an objective to finish one book per month. This turned out to be a good pace for me, and having that goal in mind helped me on many occasions decide to pick up the same book I was already reading rather than get sucked off into deciding what I felt like reading at that particular moment. In other words, it pushed me to be content with what I had already decided was worth reading, and actually read it, instead of getting mired by analysis of potential new books for 30 minutes, and then not really getting into reading anything.

I don’t know why it is but a different book always sounds more enticing than the book I already am in the midst of. For whatever reason this goal of actually finishing 1 per month helped get me beyond that just a bit. YMMV.

I ended up slightly past my goal, but maybe some of this was cheating, at least three or four of these were started prior to 2019. I’ll offer a mini review of each (in no particular order) – including why I read it, thoughts & impressions, and recommendation

  • The Broken Earth Trilogy (#2 The Obelisk Gate, #3 The Stone Sky ) – N K Jemisin
    • I had already read book one and liked it.
    • Good character and world building. Nice blend of sci-fi and fantasy genres. My first Novel with female main characters in … I don’t know, too long I guess.
    • It’s a good trilogy, but the books don’t stand well individually in my opinion, so if you’re looking for a long story this fits the bill, but not so much if you just want to dabble.
  • It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work – Jason Fried, David Heinemeier-Hansson
    • Working in web-development there is a lot of hype around the hustle culture or startup mentality that I have never been very comfortable with
    • These guys do a nice job calling BS on a lot of the bad practices of tech companies in particular but they also mostly speak from a position of having already ‘made it’. That weakens things a bit. Also there is a noticeable lack of advice to those legitimately struggling to make it not because of bad products or company culture but because current economic systems or environments are stacked against them.
    • Probably a worthwhile read if you work in software at all – I don’t know of any others in that space writing as consistently from this angle
  • Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the WorldAnand Giridharadas
    • Think I saw a retweet of something poignant that Anand said, followed some links, came upon the book, read the premise and decided to get it.
    • This was one of those books that while reading I would have to get up pace around and mutter about under my breath to talk myself down a bit. He really pulls back the curtain on the way the rich and powerful are yanking us all around, and it is a little hard to just sit there and read it.
    • This book is important. If you care about politics or how the world is shaped in any way you should, at the very least, get to know the core argument. The book really does flesh out the bones of the core argument in a way that maybe only a book can. So it’s definitely worth reading.
  • The War On Normal People – Andrew Yang
    • UBI is a great idea. Yang is the first presidential candidate I know of to make this a core policy position, so when I heard he had a book related to UBI I snagged it from the library.
    • His focus is automation along with its second and third order effects, and thus his case for UBI, in the book at least, is primarily one of practicality for a changing economy. A rather important and convincing line of reasoning. Previously I saw UBI as more of a solution to poverty and wealth inequality the current context, or that of the recent past, he helped convince me our economic context is already in the initial stages of radical change, and if we don’t make some moves soon the poverty and wealth inequality problems are going to increase exponentially.
    • I reviewed this one more thoroughly here
    • Maybe. There is a lot of material out there that might be better or more expedient than the book at this point. Yang is still in the race for the nomination, so if you’re in the US I’d definitely recommend checking out what he has to say one way or another before your chance to vote in your local caucus or primaries passes.
  • Team Human – Douglas Rushkoff
    • Sean shared a podcast episode, I wanted to hear more. Found it at the library
    • Enjoyed and can get behind the spirit of this one for the most part. A strong and unnecessary tie-in to evolutionary psychology was off putting to me. There’s a resemblance to Jacques Ellul’s The Technological Society in some of the core ideas. Of course contemporary examples and language give these ideas some new appeal no doubt.
    • Maybe, if you’re not already skeptical of mass media, automation, and algorithms and their unhealthy influences in our lives then at least check out the podcast by the same name, if you already are a skeptic, like me, and really want to entrench these ideas with some deeper philosophical underpinnings, then maybe check out some contemporary analysis of Ellul on YouTube instead.
  • Utopia For RealistsRutger Bregman
    • Referenced in some of my online reading on UBI, and saw some quotes from the book on twitter – the title is intriguing all by itself!
    • Lots of interesting history, and good discussion of some big ideas.
    • Sure, even if you already believe in UBI or open borders or other such things there is probably some new good info to bolster your positions. If you don’t even know what those things are also a concise enough to be a good introduction, as you won’t get bogged down or bored by details.
  • The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
    • I think I saw this one in an airport bookstore a couple years ago, had started reading it on the plane, but never finished for no good reason.
    • Given I studied Psych in college I found a couple of the more recent case stories very interesting. At least one of these will almost certainly be in learning and memory psychology textbooks in the future. On the other hand all the business-oriented stories about how marketing teams cleverly manipulated peoples behavior annoyed me as they were portrayed in much too positive a light.
    • This book could have been a TED talk. It’s good core idea, but it didn’t need to be stretched into a full book
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
    • Honestly just picked this one up because it seemed popular and potentially irreverently funny
    • The irreverence wears thin, the self-help advice is not bad, but pretty surface level – mostly get priorities straight, and ignore the haters kind of stuff – very meh to me, but I guess it appeals to a lot of people, and if it helps them get priorities in order and lose some anxiety then, cool, I guess.
    • Nah – I regret putting the time in on this one.
  • The Dispossessed – Ursula K Le Guin
    • Sean read one of her books and talked it up. I saw part of a PBS special about her and was intrigued. Was looking for a novel as a change of pace.
    • Was slow going getting into it, but think that had more to do with personal issues that just happened to coincide. So glad I pushed through the first couple chapters. Honestly one of top 10 novels I’ve read in my life. Maybe top 5. Why dystopian novels like 1984 or Brave New World got so popular, but this is relatively unheard of is something I can’t explain well. Such good writing and ultimately a much more hopeful message
    • Yes, Strongly recommend. It is part of a (loosely defined) series apparently, but it stands alone just fine
  • 12 Hours of Sleep By 12 Weeks – Suzy Giordano, Lisa Abidin
    • We had a baby in August. Have other children too. The best simple advice as a parent is you need a plan of attack for sleep. We’d tried other ideas with some success with our other kids, but were open to alternative approaches. This was recommended and fit that qualifier
    • Good philosophically. Detailed plan kind of book, but the strong lean, near reliance, on bottle feeding made some of the plan just not doable or practical for us. This baby just didn’t do well with a bottle. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    • It’s worth checking out if you have a new baby to deal with sometime soon, but don’t make it your only resource on the subject.
  • Male Sexuality: Why Women Don’t Understand It – And Men Don’t Either – Michael J Bader
    • Just stumbled across this at the library a few years back. Only skimmed some parts before had to return, but remembered it was one I had wanted to come back to.
    • Some really novel thoughts, a lot that made sense, a bit that was a stretch. Overall very good stuff to contemplate, and some trailheads for paths of serious introspection are identified. Towards the end there is a section about the troubling lack of comprehension for pedophiles and similar deviant fantasy or behavior. Its not an appeal for leniency towards abusers, yet some will find his comparatively compassionate ideas probably appalling. I think his message there is quite important.
    • If you are willing or wanting to get introspective about your own or your partner’s sexual thoughts and motivations this will give you some really good stuff to chew on for sure.
  • The Case Against SugarGary Taubes
    • I get emails about discounts on ebooks. This one was on sale for 1.99 or .99 and the little blurb sounded interesting
    • Long, but mostly in a thorough positive sense, as in it builds the case stronger with proper nuance, and without assuming too much prior knowledge. His conclusions are not oversold. Sugar, in the quantities the average person consumes it, is a serious problem. There are lots of important reasons the western diet came to be what it was, and remains what it is. Failing to understand all that would probably mean a failure to change them long term. An interesting blend of nutrition science, history, and politics. Also, the chapter on the role sugar played in cigarettes was almost literally jaw dropping for me.
    • Recommend, but understand its not for everyone. Seems like pretty crucial reading if you want to understand the modern obesity crises, and its associated illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, holistically. On the other hand, If you’re one who can simply take advice on authority, then one takeaway piece of advice would be cut your sugar intake WAY down. A second, to be skeptical of most modern health or nutrition advocates that aren’t giving that advice as step one. For example the pervasive “exercise more” or “eat less” messages – this is essentially sugar industry propaganda at work.
  • How To Change Your Mind – Michael Pollan
    • Heard an interview with the author on the radio not long after a discussion on personality types and their in-plasticity – lack of plasticity? un-plasticness? rigidity? well, anyway.
    • I didn’t really enjoy the long winded tangents and character introductions littered throughout, but a friend listened to the audiobook at the same time I was reading it, and he appreciated that rambling style in that format. Plenty of surprising psychology history, and the premise that psychedelics have may have an important function is just really interesting. Not being much of a mystical person or experimenter in those things I found it difficult to relate to some of the ineffable experiences he tried to relay.
    • If there were a condensed version I would be much more apt to suggest this one, the core content is good. Paul Stamets is one of the people interviewed and has a book that I also borrowed from the library, Mycelium Running – I didn’t “read” that one, only skimmed, which is why it doesn’t have a proper entry in this list. Lots of fascinating pictures with captions. My kids were also into it! I might recommend Paul’s book over this one. Torn on that. They definitely cover different stuff though.
  • On Freedom, Love, And Power – Jacques Ellul
    • I was looking for something more on the theological side of things from this guy
    • Meandering commentary on Genesis, Job, and Revelation. I feel like it was interspersed with some insightful stuff, but I also remember thinking some was pretty off base. Honestly, I read this one early in the year, and there just isn’t much that stuck with me
    • Nope. Wouldn’t call it a bad read, but there are just so many better.

That does it for my lightning reviews. Maybe this year I will try not to procrastinate writing these out. Probably better on the whole to get these out while they are fresh, but on the other hand it is interesting to mentally re-visit the book later on. It shouldn’t be surprising to find my opinion of a book can evolve a bit with time, after giving the new ideas time to digest just a bit and mix well with the other new ideas etc.

I plan to follow this post up with two more related to the building a habit of reading. One on utilizing books with daily entries, and one about filling in some practical details and lessons learned as I venture to achieve the seemingly simple goal of finishing one book a month again in 2020.

The Dip – Seth Godin

the dip book cover

Subtitle: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

The Dip, by Seth Godin, is a book that talks about how to know when you should fight through the rough times (dips) that happen with any big project or idea, and how to know when it’s just not working and you should quit. He tackles the famous quote from Vince Lombardi that “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Winners do in fact quit a lot, they just know what things to quit so they can focus on the things that are successful. This is a short book that is very practical and applicable to people in many careers.


How to be the best in the world – “Best” and “World” are relatively speaking, of course. The goal is to find what you can really be the best at in your pocket of the world. Find your niche and passion and develop your skills around that.

Expecting and planning for the dip – Any big project or idea will go through certain stages as it develops. There is the initial excitement and optimism that accompanies something new, but there will almost always be a rough patch (dip) that is coming. If you’re aware of this, you can plan for it so it doesn’t catch you off guard. The visuals in the book are handy at showing how this process generally plays out.

Knowing when to cut your losses – Sometimes the dip is more of a dead-end, but that can be hard to see and even harder to admit. Sunk costs can drastically influence your decision making in this area, so it helps to have some perspective when evaluating if this is a dip that you can (and should) fight through, or not.


I read a lot of books, but I don’t own very many as there are few books that I care to read more than once. I own this book and try to revisit it every year or so, at least in part. There is a lot of practical wisdom in these pages that I have been able to put into practice. I strongly recommend checking this one out. Seth Godin is a great thinker and author. If you find this book enjoyable, you should check out his daily blog.

You can find the Wiki article for the book here. If you want to learn more about the author, here’s a link to Seth Godin’s website. On his site, you can find links to buy books, listen to his podcast (which I recommend), and other stuff.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – Lori Gottlieb

Lori Gottlieb book cover

Subtitle: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone tells the story about how the process of mental health therapy works. It is written in a narrative format where the author (who is a psychotherapist) shares her personal story of getting help, intermixed with stories of several of her patients. It is an honest look at how the stories we tell ourselves can shape our lives and relationships, for good and for ill. This book also illustrates how finding healing is a journey that never travels in a straight line.


I’m going to flip things and do the recommendation part first. I really liked this book overall and think that it will help a lot of people to see how powerful that therapy can be to change lives and find healing. Hopefully, it will also help to de-stigmatize therapy for some who have outdated views such as the misconception that therapy is for weak people or only for those with severe mental illness. The narrative format makes for easy reading and helps illustrate how therapy works without getting overly technical or heavy on clinical jargon. Those looking for a book more truly focused on therapy (less personal narrative/memoir) should check out “The Examined Life” by Stephen Grosz instead.

Instead of the usual breakdown of topics and themes, I wanted to share some quotes and therapy pearls of wisdom from the book. Lines without references are quotes from the author/book.

Quotes and Therapy Pearls of Wisdom

“Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction, but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch” – James Baldwin

One of the most important steps in therapy is helping people take responsibility for their current predicaments, because once they realize that they can (and must) construct their own lives, they’re free to generate change.

Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we take along the way.

The most important factor in the success of your treatment is your relationship with the therapist, your experience of “feeling felt.”

Therapy can’t help people who aren’t curious about themselves.

Happiness equals reality minus expectations.

So many of our destructive behaviors take root in an emotional void, an emptiness that calls out for something to fill it.

“The opposite of depression isn’t happiness, but vitality.” – Andrew Solomon

Regret can go one of two ways: it can shackle you to the past or serve as an engine for change.

Sometimes “drama”, no matter how unpleasant, can be a form of self-medication, a way to calm ourselves down by avoiding the crises brewing inside.

Avoidance is a simple way of coping by not having to cope.

Not speaking about something doesn’t make it less real. It makes it scarier.

There’s no hierarchy of pain. Suffering shouldn’t be ranked, because pain is not a contest.

You can’t get through your pain by diminishing it…You get through your pain by accepting it and figuring out what to do with it. You can’t change what you’re denying or minimizing.

Maybe we all need to doubt, rail against, and question before we can really let go.

“The nature of life is change and the nature of people is to resist change.” & “The more you welcome your vulnerability, the less afraid you’ll feel.” – Wendell

You can learn more about the author and this book on her website. Here’s a link to the Wiki page for this book.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli

carlo rovelli physics book

A concise, but deep exploration of the nature of our universe and how it works

What is the nature of our world, of space, time, even consciousness? Seven Brief Lessons on Physics is a short book that covers (you guessed it) seven topics, including Einstein’s theories, quantum mechanics, and thermodynamics. While the concepts covered are incredibly complex, Carlo Rovelli, a theoretical physicist, writes in a way that doesn’t require the reader to have a degree in science to understand. It is an attempt to stimulate the reader’s curiosity, not a science textbook. In that sense, it is similar in style to Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”, though shorter and less technical.

This quote, from a review in the Guardian, sums it up well:
“Rovelli’s book conveys a simple truth: physics is beautiful and awe-inspiring, its mysteries there for us all to muse upon.”


Spacetime – Space and time aren’t separate things, they are fused together. It goes against our intuition and what we used to believe about how the universe works. The author covers how Einstein’s special theory of relativity changed how we think about the topic.

Quantum mechanics – The universe operates in very different ways when you compare how galaxies work with how the smallest particles (like electrons) behave. The quantum world is very strange.

Thermodynamics – Heat, friction, movement, and vibration all come together to impact and interact with spacetime. Is heat one of the reasons why time behaves like it does? That’s an interesting question.

Consciousness – How does the knowledge of all of the topics above impact how we view ourselves and humanity? What does this mean for concepts like free will and what it means to be conscious? This was a fitting ending lesson to the book.


I love science. If you’re a science nerd, like me, I think you’ll enjoy this book. While it is written in a way to be understandable to the general public, it will likely be confusing for people who aren’t familiar with the deeper concepts in physics, especially the different theories of relativity.

Here’s a link to the Wiki page for this book (not much to see there). Here’s a link to the publisher’s website for the book. Lastly, here’s a link to the Wiki page for the author, Carlo Rovelli.

Author Profile: Emily Dickinson

portrait photo emily dickinson

A genius poet who was never recognized in her time

There’s nothing that I can say about Emily Dickinson that hasn’t already been said. She was a prolific writer who only had a handful of poems published during her lifetime. She was a mysterious person, described by some as a recluse and eccentric, and her mystique has only grown over the years. Emily made her sister promise to burn all of her writings after she died, but, thankfully for us, while she did burn most of her letters and correspondence, she didn’t burn her poems. Somewhere around 1800 poems (partial and complete) were found after her death.

After her death, the earliest published volumes of her poetry were heavily edited. Some of the reason for this was that her style conflicted with the conventional rules of popular and accepted poetry at the time. Some of it also was likely because of tension between the Dickinson family and the editors. This quote from the Wiki page on Dickinson is a nice summary of her style and themes.

“Her poems were unique to her era. They contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.”

Other Interesting Notes

  • The first volume of her poems (which was highly edited) was published in 1890, four years after her death.
  • The first (almost completely) unedited version of her poems was published in 1955.
  • Her most prolific and creative period was from 1861-1865, with estimates that she wrote 366 poems in 1862.
  • The most common themes and topics in her poetry are mortality, nature, and spirituality.
  • She is often classified as a Transcendentalist and is thought to have been an avid reader of Emerson.

Most Popular Poems

I did a quick Google search for “most popular Emily Dickinson poems” and the 7 poems listed below seem to be on just about every list that people put together in articles and blogs on the topic. “There’s a certain Slant of light” is possibly (probably?) my favorite. One not listed below but that I especially enjoy is “This World is not Conclusion.”

  • “Hope” is the thing with feathers
  • Because I could not stop for Death
  • There’s a certain Slant of light
  • After great pain, a formal feeling comes
  • I’m nobody! Who are you?
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
  • My Life has stood – a Loaded Gun


I have tried many, many times to get into poetry. I’ve read several books to learn more about the art of poetry and to develop a greater appreciation for this artistic medium. With all that as background, I have to be honest that Dickinson is the only poet I consistently enjoy. And not just enjoy, I love her poetry. There are plenty of poems out there by other poets that I enjoy, but nothing and no one comes close to Emily Dickinson. I highly recommend reading her poems, as long as you make sure to get her unedited works. This is important because there are many books of her poetry that only contain the early, highly edited versions. This is a shame because I really enjoy her quirky, unconventional style.

You can learn more about Emily Dickinson on this Wiki page. Here’s a link to the Emily Dickinson Museum in her hometown of Amherst. Lastly, here’s a link to the Emily Dickinson Archive, where you can view high-resolution images of her surviving writings/manuscripts.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari sapiens

A unique perspective and narrative of human history

In Sapiens, Professor Harari takes the reader on the wild ride through human history, what makes us different from other animals, and examines the major cultural shifts throughout the years. Evolutionary biology leads the early portions of the book, while later sections discuss the role of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, religion, philosophy, and economics.

This paragraph from the author’s website does a great job summarizing what the book is about.

“Sapiens focuses on key processes that shaped humankind and the world around it, such as the advent of agriculture, the creation of money, the spread of religion and the rise of the nation state. Unlike other books of its kind, Sapiens takes a multi-disciplinary approach that bridges the gaps between history, biology, philosophy and economics in a way never done before. Furthermore, taking both the macro and the micro view, Sapiens conveys not only what happened and why, but also how it felt for individuals.”

Topics Covered

What makes humans unique? – Prof Harari makes a convincing case on how homo sapiens ability to cooperate and work together in large numbers has given us a strategic advantage to be able to expand our territory and succeed in hostile climates.

Capitalism as religion – This is probably my favorite unique perspective that the author takes. Capitalism definitely fits many of the criteria of religion, especially the dedication of its followers and the rituals and traditions surrounding it.

Human happiness – In many ways, modern humans have it much better and easier than ancient hunter-gatherer societies, but there is a pretty strong case that we aren’t happier these days. There are many reasons for this that are addressed throughout the book.

The dark side of the Agricultural Revolution – This ties in with the above about happiness. The Agricultural Revolution had certain benefits for humanity, but it also had very specific costs for humans and animals that are often overlooked.


This is a really thought-provoking book that pushes the envelope in several areas. It challenges many long-held beliefs, assumptions, and special dogmas of certain groups. While the author takes some liberties to make assertions about the future and makes conclusions that will seem to be a stretch for some (the author clearly has a tendency towards exaggeration and has received much scholarly criticism for this), this is still a good book to make you think. I put it in the recommended list as long as you keep that in mind.

Here’s a link to the Wiki page for the book. Here’s that link again to the author’s website.