Monday, March 14, 2005

New Book Recommendations

Here are several new books I've been reading in the last few weeks:

Since the War on Terror began, I have read Bat Ye'or with great interest; so I was particularly eager to read the new book, Eurabia. She has also written Islam and Dhimmitude and has been a pioneer researcher on the concept of Islamic dhimmitude . I found Eurabia to be a though-provoking and profoundly disturbing book, tackling the islamization of Europe. Ye'or documents the process by which the European continent is slowly but surely committing cultural suicide as one by one they capitulate to Islamic extremism. I hope Ye'or is wrong, but I fear she may be right. Even as I write this, the Dutch are awakening from the multicultural dream they built in their society to discover that it is really a nightmare.

One thing I truly liked about the book is the courage Ye'or's demonstrates to look directly in the face of Islam and see it for what it is, and what it represents: the subversion of the Western values of freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech. Highly recommended.

The absolute best science writer out there is Matt Ridley. His books are well-written, informative, and true to the science. Here are two that are, in my estimation, particularly excellent:

The first is a incredible romp through the human genome, highlighting parts of different chromosomes that are known to be connected to significant medical problems. Ridley is knowledgable and intertwines biology with human interest and philosophy. Genome is probably the best science book I have ever read that was written by a non-scientist. The author really understands his subject matter, and is able to bring enthusiasm and insight to some extremely fascinating biological problems.

The Origins of Virtue is about the evolution of cooperation in human society. Ridley asks the question of why humans are impelled to live in cooperative, complex societies, if Darwin's "suvival of the fittest" is really focused on individuals? It looks at the roots of human trust and virtue by analyzing recent research that suggests that self-interest and mutual aid are not incompatible.

Finally, I'd like to recommend two works of fiction. The first, Inkheart, was recommended to me by my 12 year old daughter, who enjoyed it and knows that I like literature written for children and adolescents. Inkheart is a fantasy/mystery that explores the heart and soul of reading and books (it reminded me in that regard of the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next novels----see the right sidebar). Imagine that characters in a book come alive, not in your imagination, bu for real; and they enter your world, bringing their book world with them. Imagine if the character that enters your world was truly evil. Funke is an excellent writer, who understands adolescents. I can understand why kids really like this book. I did too.

My final recommendation is not a new book. It is one I read and enjoyed many years ago and reread recently, to discover that I enjoyed it just as much--if not more-- this time around! I understand it is going to be a major motion picture this summer, but nothing can replace the old audio and PBS Video series in my heart. I am referring to The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, specifically the 25th anniversary edition.

Has it really been 25 years??? Doug Adams (who died in 2001) was a genius. After I read the special 25th anniversary edition, I had to go back and read the other books in the series, too. I will never forget the first time I read that book. I was laughing so hard, I almost fell out of my chair, gasping for breath. It was clever, intelligent, and brilliantly executed. It is still that good and that funny. This time around, I really began to appreciate Marvin, the depressed and suicidal robot. I recommend you read all the books; listen to the audio CD ;and watch the DVD BBC production, too. You'll be glad you did.

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