Hard Green

Hard Green (New York: Basic Books, 1000)

Peter Huber demonstrates that the green movement is mostly brown. The greatest threat to the environment would be your standard issue environmentalist, what Huber calls soft greens. People who care about the environment, but who want to depend on markets instead of coercion he calls hard greens. This is a great book. There are some evolutionary asides that are a distraction, so ignore those.

Lila

Lila (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014)

Wonderful description, and held my interest all the way through. But while all the back story on Lila was really interesting, the narrative got a bit lost in the brambly hedges of the Mid-West countryside, along with the theology. The better the description of a hardscrabble life — which in this book is exquisite — the more any culmination of universalism has to come off like the ultimate ta-da! deus ex machina, special pleading, just-so ending. Everybody is rotten, and then we die, and everything is bliss. Imagine our surprise.

God Poet

God the Poet (Wooster, OH: Weaver Book, 2014)

I enjoyed portions of this book, and learned from it, but I think I was let down because it didn’t really live up to the title. The title is stupendous, and promises the moon, which rhymes with June. Nevertheless, the book did what I like books like this to do, which is to get me kind of churned up.

Art Propaganda

All Art Is Propaganda (New York: Mariner Press, 2008)

This was really a provocative and helpful read. Orwell is such a clear writer, and independent thinker, that you find yourself fruitfully mulling over issues you have never really thought about before. This is a collection of essays and reviews, and is well worth every minute spent on it. Fantastic.

Boswell

The Life of Samuel Johnson (New York: Knopf, 1906)

I recently included a “bucket book” in my line-up of books I am reading. These are books I really ought to have read by this time in my life, but which, alas, I have not. This book, The Life of Samuel Johnson, was the first in this roster that I have completed. Having done so, it continues to strike me as a really good idea.

Boswell mentions near the end of the book that those who took the time to read “may be considered as well acquainted with him.” I think this is quite true, and gaining the acquaintance was genuinely rewarding. It was also a pleasure to run across so many of Johnson’s bon mots in their original setting. Despite being such a massive book, or perhaps because of it, this was a truly rewarding read.

Mozart

Mozart: A Life (New York: Viking, 2013)

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Mozart was a phenomenal genius, and this short book — short just like Mozart’s life — gives a marvelous sense of that genius. For those who don’t know much about Mozart’s life, and don’t know whether or not he was a founding member of the Dave Clark Five, this is the book for you. If you know enough about Mozart to think that joke wasn’t funny, this is also a book for you.