I’m reading and “reviewing” a lot, though if you’ve been following me closely over the years, the reviews are for my benefit not yours – to capture contributions to my own story. There’s a trope or meme that I often find myself reading something I wish I’d written – believe I could have written – and, after I’ve gutted the content for new angles, my review reduces to “Excellent, a recommended read” – and seriously, if you don’t already buy where I’m coming from, that’s always a serious recommendation.
It’s not that I’m selecting reads for reinforcement of my existing arguments. Far from it. I know my own mind, and I know it “prejudices” my reading – that’s just being honest. The scary thing is, whether I’m reading (boringly) predictably or (hopefully) sceptically, my mantra of “nothing new under the sun; ’twas ever thus” keeps emerging. Rabid opponents in the public eye seem barely a fag-paper apart when it comes down to it.
The Dick Taverne I’ve just read and reviewed last night, is a case in point. Excellent. Another way of saying what I believe I’m already trying to say, so obviously I recommend you read him.
However having finished Taverne, I picked-up Nick Spencer’s “Atheists, the Origin of the Species” where I left off almost exactly a month ago. I was reading Taverne because it was the book group recommendation of a group of like minds, and the name rang a bell. I’m reading Spencer for a pretty random sequence of causes. Following up on my interest in Sheldrake I just happened to find myself at Theos, and noticed the witty title, related to my interest – in evolved rationality.
Spencer’s book is “Excellent” also – think I may already have said that – but in fact it’s more than that, it’s “Brilliant”. Lots to agree with of course, but excellent witty turns of phrase, laconic understatement, and despite covering enlightenment history, where I consider myself pretty well read these days, lots of new stuff – both historical narrative and enlightened literary quotes and sources to follow-up. Brilliant and, need I say, recommended.
Not quite finished reading it, but I’ll do a fuller “review” when I’m done, though it probably exemplifies another meme, one where I could have more notes than original text by the time I’m done.