The Silmarillion has been sitting on my too-intimidating-to-read shelf (right next to Les Miserables and War and Peace) for too long, but I finally took up the challenge. Mind. Blown. The thousands of years of back story make you read Lord of the Rings on a whole new light.
If you thought Hunger Games was Hobbesian, the prequel Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes makes it explicit. Check out where President Snow became got his mean streak.
Like self-quarantining, but you'll get shot by the KGB if you leave the house. But seriously, a beautiful work of historical fiction. "The surest sign of wisdom is constant cheerfulness." Count Rostov, once-aristrocrat and Former Person in Soviet Russia, embodies this life lesson of his on every page.
"There is nothing so absurd, that it can't be said by a philosopher." Wiker's thesis is that ideas have power, and a lot of them can be dangerous. OF the 14 books be reviews, some would be universally condemned such as Hitler's Mein Kampf-- but others were written by eminent scientists such as Darwin's "Descent of Man."
Wiker's book claims a lot of ground for the conservative tradition-- he calls on both Chesterton and Lewis, and both Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments, and even Lord of the Rings. But Wiker's vision of conservatism seems very different from the current embodiment of the Republican party. His discussions surrounding self-government, a distributed economy, and cultivation of virtue seem like a call to return to our roots. It is a refreshing reminder that politics shouldn't be entirely defined by what we're against.
What can I possibly have in common with perpetrators of murder and torture? Tavris and Aronson argue, quite a lot. The same patterns you use to justify you yelling at your child or spouse or cheating on a test have been used by governments to justify much worse things-- and still be able to feel like a basically good person. Tavris and Aronson's book really hits hard-- but it's not just a self-help book to become a better person. Self-justification quickly becomes political.
My better half is also a talented author! I just got through reading her second book, "Mind Captive" a science fiction book playing with tropes of agency and privacy. Or, in short, mind-reading aliens 😉
My COVID-19 reading has been slowed when I lost my commute time, but I did manage to finish David Gore's *Voice of the People*. And what a read! It's a deep-dive into Mosiah 29-Alma 2, the regime change from a reign of kings to a reign of judges. Gore pulls out a lot of timely messages for our own political discourse.
Spencer's "First Nephi" has given me a chance to be reconciled to Nephi, and for that I am grateful. Despite all our efforts to make Nephi a symbol of perfect obedience-- for better or worse-- Spencer shows us a human side of Nephi you may miss otherwise.