In keeping with my blogging tradition of posting an annual book log, here is my 2015 showing:
- Lynne Rudder Baker, Naturalism and the First-Person Perspective (Oxford, 2013).
- Jeff Guinn, The Last Gunfight (Simon & Schuster, 2012).
- Steve Sheinkin, Lincoln’s Grave Robbers (Scholastic, 2012).
- Richard Carwardine, Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power (Vintage, 2007).
- Chris Kyle, American Sniper (Harper, 2013).
- Peter Kadzis, Blood: Stories of Life and Death from the Civil War (Thunder’s Mouth, 2000).
- David Roberts, Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration (W. W. Norton & Co., 2014).
- Mitchell Zuckoff, Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II (Harper Perennial, 2012).
- Richard Taylor, The Disciplined Life (Bethany House, 1962).
- Antonio Mendez, Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Penguin Books, 2013).
- Orson Scott Card, Earth Unaware
- Orson Scott Card, Earth Afire
- Orson Scott Card, Earth Awakens
- H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds
- Gary Paulsen, Brian’s Winter
- Gary Paulsen, The River
- Gary Paulsen, Brian’s Return
- Gary Paulsen, Brian’s Hunt
- Richard Adams, Watership Down
- Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
An abysmal list, really, as far as philosophy is concerned (Cf. 2013 and 2014). What can I say? The ‘game’ of professional philosophy and its star players disgust me more than ever. As a not-completely-subconcious act of personal protest, I’ve turned to other outlets to scratch inquisitive, creative itches. I still dutifully read the tenure files and enjoy my work. But that’s what it has become. Work. I never saw it that way before. Maybe that’s why I was better at it then. Anyway, the challenge I face this next year will be to keep that original flame of love for Lady Philosophy burning, and to not let the cold drafts of academia blow it out entirely. Here’s to 2016.
Inspired by my pal Paul Gould, last year I inaugurated the posting of an annual book log: a log of all the books I manage to wade through from cover to cover over the year. Here is my 2014 book log:
- Michael Clark, Paradoxes from A to Z (Routledge, 3rd ed., 2012).
- Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy Vol. I: Greece and Rome – From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus (Doubleday, 1993).
- Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy Vol. II: Medieval Philosophy – From Augustine to Duns Scotus (Doubleday, ed. 1993).
- Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (Penguin, 2010).
- Scott Davison, On the Intrinsic Value of Everything (Continuum, 2012).
- Pedro Ferreira, The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses Battle over General Relativity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014).
- William Hasker, Metaphysics and the Tri-Personal God (Oxford, 2013). Reviewed HERE.
- James Humes, Churchill: The Prophetic Statesman (Regnery History, 2012).
- Robert Kurson, Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II (Random House, 2005).
- Brian Leftow, God and Necessity (Oxford, 2012). Reviewed HERE.
- C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (Macmillan, 1960).
- Oliver North, War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom (Regnery History, 2003).
- Graham Oppy, The Best Argument Against God (Palgrave, 2013).
- N. T. Wight, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Fortress, 2003).
- William Golding, Lord of the Flies
- Jack London, The Call of the Wild
- Gary Paulsen, Hatchet
- Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels
By count alone, this year’s showing is ostensibly less productive than last year’s; but there were more marathons than sprints (e.g., Leftow, Wright, Copleston). At first I thought it would be a good resolution each year to read more (non-fiction) books than I did the previous year, but that now seems naive.
Quantity of pages almost never corresponds to quality of content, and the amount of time one spends with a book should be an indication of its quality. It’s perfectly possible and reasonable to spend an entire year absorbing just one book. How much more would you learn from Plato or Augustine if you disappeared for six months with just a copy of, say, The Republic or The City of God (respectively) rather than reading syllabus-sized snippets of each alongside dozens of other course commitments for three months?
This brings me to two long-term book resolutions I have. The first is to finish Copleston’s 9-volume History of Philosophy by the time I leave graduate school. The other is coming up with a reliable method for tempering my book lust. In my first attempt I said I would not buy any new books until I finished reading at least the preface and introduction to any other newly acquired books. Unable to resist good deals, that morphed into the more modest commitment to read at least the preface and introduction to all newly acquired books before shelving them. Shelving a book gives it glory, as it then sits to the right or left of another saint. This rule has unwittingly spawned a kind of book purgatory between my desk and bookshelf where an increasing multitude patiently awaits glory (pictured left). My resolution is therefore to sift the wheat from the chaff and keep book purgatory at a more manageable population. I am a righteous deity and will not unlawfully grant amnesty. My grace does not outweigh my justice. I will carefully examine each, call some home and declare to others “Depart from me I never knew you.”
Last year my friend Paul Gould mentioned that he keeps an annual book log of what he’s traversed over the year. I thought that was a good idea, being a useful way to recall major checkpoints along one’s intellectual journey. Excluding vague cases (did I finish that?), here’s my 2013 log:
- Fabrice Correia and Benjamin Schneider (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding: Understanding the Structure of Reality Cambridge, 2012).
- James Dolezal, God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Pickwick, 2011).
- Joseph Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington (Vintage, 2005).
- Anne Field, Delivered From Evil: Jesus’ Victory Over Satan (Servant, 2005).
- Aubrey Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God (University of Wales Press, 1961).
- John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity with A Discourse of Miracles and part of A Third Letter Concerning Toleration (Stanford, 1958; rep. 2005).
- Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty (Fortress Press, 2003).
- Christian List and Philip Pettit, Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents (Oxford, 2011).
- Thomas McCall, Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology (Eerdmans, 2010).
- James McPherson, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (Penguin, 2009).
- Richard Muller, Energy for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines (W. W. Norton & Co., 2013).
- Amy Plantinga Pauw, The Supreme Harmony of All: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Eerdmans, 2002).
- C. H. Perelman, Justice (Random House, 1976).
- Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Eerdmans, 1995).
- H. Wheeler Robinson, Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel (Fortress Press, 1980).
- John. A. T. Robinson, The Body: A Study in Pauline Theology (SCM Press, 1952).
- Richard Swinburne, Simplicity as Evidence of Truth (Marquette University Press, 1997).
- N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God (IVP, 2006).
- N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope (HarperCollins, 2008).
- Linda Zagzebski, Omnisubjectivity (Marquette University Press, 2013). Reviewed HERE.
- Max Brooks, World War Z
- Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
- Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Shadow
- Orson Scott Card, Xenocide
- C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
- C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy
- C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian
- Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men
Being able to take in and appreciate a panorama is a skill worth developing. In general, (analytic) philosophy lends itself to analyzing snapshots; most of my time is spent reading so-called “tenure files”: an article here and there in various philosophy journals and volumes obscure to anyone outside a narrow few. Heck, a handful of the above books are little more than glorified articles. This coming year I have a great opportunity to work on my panoramic skills as I review Brian Leftow’s mammoth tome God and Necessity (Oxford, 2012).
My resolution will be to read more (non-fiction) books next year than I did this year.