Richard’s April Recommendation

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

waiting for godotRichard says:  “Samuel Beckett’s infamous, highly influential Waiting for Godot is among the most well-regarded (and infuriating) tragicomedies of the 20th century.  The plot, such as it is, is a trifle:  two men are waiting for Godot.  Why, for how long they have been waiting, where this occurs, etc. all tend to be open for interpretation; there is precious little information given about Vladimir and Estragon, their circumstances, or much anything else.  Instead, the narrative (such as it is) unfolds in the protagonists’are they protagonists?conversations and the play’s exploration of the absurd and existential.

Waiting for Godot is rightly identified with two popular, post-World War I literary and philosophical movements:  absurdism and existentialism.  If not the original ‘show about nothing’there are surely earlier examples, although I can’t think of any offhandthen it at least captures a certain feeling of time and place, which is to say a vacuum.  Most of the action takes place in strange dialogues and pronouncements, many of which will ring true to devotees of this genre.  In a review, theater critic Vivian Mercier once famously said ‘nothing happens, twice.’  If this description sounds dull or tedious, then you might want to skip this one; however, anyone with a taste for philosophy, wordplay, and biting humor will likely find Waiting for Godot a great reador viewing.  My advice?  Read the play before seeking out any productions.  The last time I saw this performed, more than half of the audience walked out after the first act.  The main complaint?  ‘Nothing happens.  I get it.’  That may be, but that’s why Waiting for Godot so effective.”

3 Similar Reads

The Fall by Albert Camus

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard


Sophia’s August Recommendations

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

the fault in our starsThis is a love story.

The two main characters in  this book are all very young, they have cancer and they approach their condition with sarcasm. They are quite flip and the put downs fly, however somehow again and again, somehow the dialog is uplifting.  Some found the dialog a little too precious for this age group. I found it quite thrilling and remember my own experimental and excited use of a more adult vernacular. These are smart kids after all.

There is a backdrop of a holy grail of sorts. The characters seek closure in a novel that they have read. The characters in this novel were left unresolved, so they seek the novelist, to find out what happened. This mirrors their own seeking of  closure in their own lives and life’s meaning. The adventure rings true, and the outcome is both heart breaking and heart warming. Rings true, and will make you stronger.

Philosophy Made Slightly less Difficult, Garret J. DeWeese and J.P. Moreland

philosophy made slightly less difficultPhilosophy, with its rules of logic and exposition, establishes the rules of the game. The game of establishing a model for the world, and for establishing a model for how to establish a model for the world and what it means.
Understanding the rules means insight into both the context and parameters of the game. This books is for those who would like to take some time, note that the authors say “slightly less difficult” not “easy”, to understand the way that the greatest and deepest reaches of the mind have been expressed in this context.

These great and deep reaches are now world views in which we all live our lives. This book serves as a tourist guide and backdrop to the assumptions and outcomes of these world views. Nicely done.

Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr

immortal diamondAgain and again Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest  wraps his arms around diverse religious essence, practice and direction and warms the heart that we all share. A proponent of centering prayer and a master of finding commonalities across traditions, Father Rohr is a joy to read as he includes science and the aspirations of science in this search for what he calls “true self”. This is a short, beautiful, beautiful book that will put your mind to rest and inspire you in awareness of our eternal unity.

The New Science of Politics by Eric Voegelin

the new science of politicsIts both an inspiration and scary in this world what currently passes as scholarship to read the work of a true scholar. A man who has a such a deep and wide understanding of history, religion and culture that he is able to re contextualize and reinterpret our current political reality.
This is a quote that I am unable to attribute. The author says it better than I could say it:

Compressed within the draconian economy of the six Walgreen lectures, The New Science of Politics,  is a complete theory of man, society, and history, presented at the most profound and intellectual level.

I have no idea why Mr. Voegelin is not famous today. He should be.

Kimberly’s August Recommendation

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga
philosophy made simple“I loved the main character, Rudy’s, openness to new things like avocado orchards, elephants, and philosophy.  This is interesting and has a lot of heart.” – Kimberly
“Widower Rudy Harrington, a father of three grown daughters, leaves his Chicago home for a new life at an avocado grove in Texas, where he takes up philosophy, presides over his daughter’s Hindu wedding, and falls for his son-in-law’s mother.” – Summary
3 Similar Reads
Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
White Hot by Sandra Brown
Match Me If You Can by Susan Phillips

Sophia’s January Recommendation

Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner

“Quantum Theory/Mechanics is a tough topic. The findings of the early fathers, Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, and Einstein describe a theory that remains unshakable. It has remained in place since the early 1900’s and now serves as the theoretical quantum enigmaunderpinning of roughly 30% of our economy.  The authors have done a great job of introducing the subject and its history, as well as describing exactly what quantum theory is and how it is at the core of much of the technology we have developed since the early 20th century.  This book is not easy, however it rewards the patient reader with an understanding of topics that ordinarily require a deeper understanding of mathematics.  The authors walk the reader through the fascinating concepts of superposition, entanglement, wave/particle duality, etc., and with a bit of patience, what they are saying, makes these concepts understandable.  The topic is fascinating insofar as the theory decribes a world that is so very very different from the logical, causal, time bound, classical reality we dutifully accommodate in our daily lives.”

Read about this book or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century by Michio Kaku

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Bone and Blood: A Novel of Speculative Fiction by Jim Baron

Toward the End of Time by John Updike

The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke

Hadley’s March Recommendation

Red by John Logan

“I saw this play recently at the Goodman and knew that I would want to read it afterwards since the dialogue was so compelling. Red follows the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko and his fictional assistant in a series of scenes that take place in Rothko’s studio during the late 1950s. The two characters discuss the meaning of art and life in conversations that force the viewer/reader to ponder some serious questions. Red is a quick read, but not an easy read. I would recommend this play for those interested in theater, art, or philosophy.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

Sophia’s September Recommendation

Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley.

“The authors, Callanan and Kelley, are two hospice nurses who have taken care of and participated in the deaths of over 2,000 people at the end of their lives.  For many death is a scary subject that is to be avoided.  Yet, it is a journey that we all must take.  Callanan and Kelley present an eye-witness account of what happens at the end of terminal illness.  It is a beautiful and hopeful accounting of what people experience as told by those who are experiencing the actual events.  This book is great as a comforting instruction manual on what happens, what to do, and what not to do.

It is also helpful in helping us to just be with someone whos is dying. If you retreat or are frightened  because you might say or do the wrong thing, or because you are forced to face your own mortality you will find helpful an hopeful information here.

Included are signs that folks are approaching death and how not to miss them; seeing people who have already died and what that may mean; symbolic dreams and how support the dreamer in finding meaning; choosing a time to die ; waiting for a person to arrive or an event to happen.

A quote from an Amazon Reader:
‘When I first heard volunteers, nurses and others who work in hospice tell stories of people who have similar Nearing Death Experiences (not to be confused with “Near Death Experiences”), I was dubious. However, in my readings and hospice volunteer work, I find that these stories are universal, timeless and not as new age-y as I’d thought. We’ve been ignoring these wonderfully soothing stories of how people die, because for years we’ve moved birthing and dying out of the family and into hospitals. We are beginning to move them back.’

If you’ve lost a loved one, are dealing with someone who is dying (yourself or someone else), if you avoid visiting friends who are dying or if you’re struggling with your own awareness that someday you will die, please read this book. It will put your mind at ease.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog.

Sophia’s October Recommendation

Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen

“Mr. Sen’s writing is clear on a variety of topics that are mired in misunderstanding and controversy. The book is both easy to read and interesting as it poses such questions as: what is the purpose of wealth? What is the relationship between freedom and wealth? The relationship between freedom, democracy and development? Mr. Sen takes the position that providing services in developing nations ( health, education etc. ) is not just as a means of achieving equity but of achieving development. He argues that the development of human beings is both the natural fulfillment of human purpose and of greater economic goals and additionally that both these ends are best served under the auspices of a democracy. A great book.”

Review from Publishers Weekly: “When Sen, an Indian-born Cambridge economist, won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economic Science, he was praised by the Nobel Committee for bringing an “ethical dimension” to a field recently dominated by technical specialists. Sen here argues that open dialogue, civil freedoms and political liberties are prerequisites for sustainable development. He tests his theory with examples ranging from the former Soviet bloc to Africa, but he puts special emphasis on China and India… Though not always easy reading for the layperson, Sen’s book is an admirable and persuasive effort to define development not in terms of GDP but in terms of “the real freedoms that people enjoy.”

Find this title in the library catalog.