Beach Reads For Stormy Weather
Full disclosure: I read a lot of books at the same time. I don’t recommend this. Part of it is my distracted mentality. Part of it stems from the assault on my attention span waged by various media sources, and gym owners who insist on filling what should be a centering experience with what seems like a TV monitor per square foot.
For the summer I often go for an easy-to-carry, easy-to-pay attention to book. Crime stuff, usually. I love Irish crime novels. If you’ve never read The Ghosts Of Belfast by Stuart Neville, go get it. This summer, however, I’m all about feel good stuff. Not self-help. Can’t stand pop psychology and I think celebrities should stick to what made them celebrities. Gwyneth Paltrow was never a great actress. Why should she tell me what to eat? A feel good book is deeper than pop psychology.
It’s the feel good reading summer because its nasty emotional weather. Great people are dying. Seems like idiots have the microphone and its turned up very loud. So I’m trying to work some different voice into the thousand or so committee members bouncing around my head.
Erich Fromm, The Art of Being. I got turned on to Fromm via the excellent website Brain Pickings. He was a psychology child of the 60s, but damn is he right on for right now. “Faith in life, in oneself, in others must be built on the hard rock of realism; that is to say, on the capacity to see evil where it is, to see swindle, destructiveness, and selfishness not only when they are obvious but in their many disguises and rationalizations.”
Daniel Levitin, The Organized Mind. Levitin has written many excellent books (check This Is Your Brain On Music) and has a good TED talk. He is a cognitive scientist that seems to be on a mission to rescue the human race from its own obsessions. The Organized Mind is a hopeful book. “Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking…Recent research in social psychology has shown that happy people are not people who have more; rather, they are people who are happy with what they already have. Happy people engage in sacrificing all of the time, even if they don’t know it.”
E.O. Wilson, The Nature Of Human Existence. The eminent biologist-philosopher. He is so honest and provocative that his thinking seems radical at times. He boils the modern society down to its primitive roots and presents it as new thinking. I gave this book to my 15 year old son last Christmas because it answered so many questions about life that I could guess at. And in the end it’s hopeful. “You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.”