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Joined 6 months ago

I write about the commercialization of life in the west and how it impairs the quest for a sustainable culture and how this can be overcome. A representative publication is "Sustainability: From Excess to Aesthetics", which is available here:

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2022 Reading Goal

sdogood has read 0 of 15 books.

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How much is enough? (1992, Norton) 4 stars

Review of 'How much is enough?' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

In the modern consumer society more is better and our success is measured by our ability to afford possessions. The author examines the premises that form the psychological foundations of the consumer society and suggests that we would be much better off by rebuilding our lives on a more solid set of values and ideals.

The Hunger Games (Hardcover, 2008, Scholastic Press) 4 stars

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure …

Review of 'The Hunger Games' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This book can be read at different levels -- as an adventure, a nightmare and most interesting of all as a satire and social commentary on the voyeurism of reality TV. I was drawn into the story and found myself rooting for the heroine, only to realize that I wasn't much different from the gruesome TV audience that was watching the action as a sporting event rather than as a horror story in which children are forced to kill each other. This parallel between the reader and the TV viewers places the reader into the story in a way that leads to some provocative
self reflection.

An introduction to the history of psychology (2005, Thomson/Wadsworth) 4 stars

Review of 'An introduction to the history of psychology' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is the top history of psychology text. Although the focus is on psychology the breadth of its coverage qualifies it as an all-purpose intellectual history: The history of psychology is necessarily a history of philosophy. There is detailed coverage of the major forces in human thought from ancient times to the modern era. Professors would assign this text more often than they do if it were briefer. Undergraduates often have difficulty assimilating this material in a one-semester course but those who do are well rewarded: The text provides the foundation and context for a lifetime of more detailed topical study.

Snark (2009, Simon & Schuster) 3 stars

A New Yorker film critic and author of American Sucker evaluates the cultural consequences of …

Review of 'Snark' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Denby's topic is the popularity of snide insulting remarks, especially by people who claim membership in an in-group, which empowers and entitles them. These practices do not lead to healthy debate or other worthwhile outcomes. They tend to create a culture of conformists fearful of having personal idiosyncrasies or an identity beyond what the hip in-group allows. This is a thoughtful book that seeks to improve public discourse.

A time to be born (1999, Steerforth Press) 4 stars

Review of 'A time to be born' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is full of interesting characters, most of them constantly seeking to enhance their social position. Dawn Powell had a wonderful sense of humor about it all. People pursuing selfish ends with a fixed sense of purpose create a tangle of priorities that are funny, and Powell makes full use of these opportunities. The internal monologues of the characters are similar to Jane Austen's as they seek to solve mysteries of the other characters' motivations and values.

The Trance of Scarcity (Paperback, 2007, Berrett-Koehler Publishers) 4 stars

Review of 'The Trance of Scarcity' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The main point of the book is that the experience of abundance in life depends on your psychological outlook. Castle explores the way in which personal narrative, generosity, and openness, among other concepts, influences either a sense of abundance or its opposite, scarcity and constriction. This is a wonderful perspective that psychologically complements the emerging literature of voluntary simplicity. The book would be improved by connecting the message to previous work in this area, such as Thoreau's Walden and the literature of Zen Buddhism. Seligman's work in learning optimism is mentioned only in passing, but as a research base for this line of thinking it deserves more coverage and integration. But overall this is an important book that represents an important alternative to materialism and consumerism.

Good News (1991, Plume) 3 stars

Review of 'Good News' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

The action here is fast-paced and like many westerns there is little ambiguity about who the white and black hats are. It is an exploration of the kind of mentality that is responsible for well organized assaults on the environment. It sees hope in a combination of rebellion and mysticism.

Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village (Paperback, 2003, Simon & Schuster) 4 stars

Review of 'Republic of Dreams: Greenwich Village' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This book tells the stories of selected individuals, both famous and less well known, who have been a part of the cultural life of Greenwich Village. It is well written and full of interesting anecdotes and trivia. It captures trends in Village life over time. Most interesting are Wetzsteon's observations about the nature of Bohemianism, including its successes and often spectacular failures, as exemplified in the lives of his cast of characters. Apparently he planned a separate chapter on this topic but died before he could complete the book. It nonetheless stands on its own as an interesting set of vivid snapshots of artistic, literary and life-as-art culture.

A challenging, controversial, and highly readable look at our lives, our world, and our future. …

Review of 'Green metropolis ; what the city can teach the country about true sustainability' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

This is well researched and written and focused on key issues central to building a sustainable culture. The neglected issue of population density is most prominent, but the author also covers many other related issues and debunks many widely held myths about sustainability, such as the high relative priority we currently give to recycling, mass transit and various high-tech schemes for salvation. Owen maintains that Manhattan's population density is in part an accident due to a favorable geography. Some more discussion of how to retrofit existing urban centers to emulate Manhattan, by design, would have also been useful.

Les misérables (1982, Ballantine Books) 5 stars

Frank revelation of France in post-Napoleonic age.

Review of 'Les misérables' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A wonderful book in part because it can be read at different levels, as an adventure novel, as beautiful love story and as a philosophical treatise that poses fascinating questions about the nature of right and wrong, ethical and unethical.

Bohemia (1977, Nelson-Hall) 2 stars

Review of 'Bohemia' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

This book has some interesting ideas, particularly that Bohemian aesthetic values can and should become a the basis of a positive cultural transformation. However the author's language is overdone. He also does not develop many of his brash offhanded assertions sufficiently for them to be persuasive, even to a sympathetic reader. D. Paul Schafer espouses some of the same core ideas in his Revolution or Renaissance with a more sober pen, but his treatment is pedantic and doesn't invoke the Bohemian driving force at all, even though it is both pertinent and cool.

An internationally renowned energy expert has written a book essential for every American--a galvanizing account …

Review of 'Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is one of the most insightful and level-headed books to emerge from authors who have recognized that the age of cheap fuel is over. Rubin sees a shift to a more local way of life due to the decline of cheap fuel, which also means a decline in global trading of heavy goods. He presciently envisions a range of changes, some difficult, some disruptive, but some that provide interesting opportunities too.

Review of 'Gettysburg' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Once I began this I was unable to do much else except read it to the end. A good battle story should cover both the top-level political and strategic context and decisions as well as the view of the soldiers on the ground, bringing out both the exhaustion, horror and heroism. Sears does all of this well and in detail. General Lee, brilliant in earlier victories, is portrayed as out of action here. General Meade, later criticized for not pursuing the confederates afterward, comes across well as in touch with his units.