Read Recently — March 2016 — Nonfiction

Living With A Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich

When she was a child, Ehrenreich went through a number of what I would call “Numinous experiences”, culminating in an event during a teenage ski trip that she could only describe to other people as “I saw god”. That experience never entirely went away; while the feeling stopped she always remembered it (and sometimes, even now, it comes back) and, growing up as an atheist, the child of atheists, and a budding scientist, she struggled to deal with it. This book is the result of that struggle.

Ehrenriech’s a hell of a writer, and if you’ve enjoyed her previous work, you should enjoy this one. Recommended.

The Self Illusion: how the social brain creates identity by Bruce Hood

Hood basically argues that Descartes was wrong; just because you think doesn’t mean that you actually exist. That is, what we consider ourselves is an illusion. I’m not sure that he actually makes his case, but I think someone who doesn’t already believe this should read the book and report. It’s generally well-written and well-edited, though you sometimes get sentences like, “most of us are tripped-wired to pay attention to ourselves” (my emphasis), and chapter seven is actually completely missing note 10. There is also one “low and behold” , which is unforgivable.

Mildly recommended, pending review by someone who isn’t already convinced.


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