This past week I finished two books on meaning and morality and a bit of natural history. I enjoyed Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, but de Botton’s work on religion and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind were both extraordinary. Comments for it and Shubin will follow in the next few days. This week I’ll be wrapping up The Making of the Fittest, which examines the genetic evidence of evolution, and I’m supremely proud of myself for not having run away screaming when the author introduced coefficients into the discussion. For leisure reading, I’ve just started a novel called Trains and Lovers, wherin four strangers on a train ride in Britain from London to Glasgow share their stories with one another. I’m also entertaining the prospect of reading Stephen Ambrose’s Citizen Soldiers to scratch an itch for adventure, explosions, and excitement. I think it’s been ten years since I last read Ambrose, in his Nothing Like it in the World: the Making of the Transcontinental Railroad. I also have Betrayal, on how citizens betrayed the military, or how the military betrayed the country. Someone betrayed something, that much I know. (I’ve only gotten to the introduction.)
I recently found out that my university library still allows me to check out books despite being a graduate. I was so giddy to realize that enormous wealth of books was still open to me that I paid my alumni pledge early. I’m planning my first visit ‘home’ in a couple of weeks, and already have a list of books to check out there. Turns out they have a lot of the authors whose works I’ve become interested in since graduating. Actually, my copy of The Making of the Fittest is from my university library, checked out via interlibrary loan. Checking them out personally will mean an excuse to revisit my old stomping grounds, harrumphing at whatever changes have transpired in my absence.
This Saturday I picked up Radicals for Capitalism: A History of American Libertarianism, the title of which caused the barista who checked me out to abruptly frown at me when she saw it. I can’t blame her: it has a chapter on Ayn Rand, which makes me feel positively dirty. But it’s an enormous book, and was offered at a low price, so I was seduced. I’m going to try refrain from reading it until I have something that will balance it out, like Power, Inc, or The Shock Doctrine: something to get my old progressive indignation fired up.