Books you should Read.

tinkerdan

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Reading the sample of this book:
A book I have only read some of, and don't suppose I will read in its entirety, is Julia Shaw's The Memory Delusion. I don't endorse everything she thinks, by any means, but her book does matter in a time when, in various arenas, so much is made of "recovered memories." You might need to engage with her severe skepticism about that kind of thing.
Reminds me of Dean Koontz's book False Memory which I think would be more entertaining. And Julia Shaw begins to sound like the the evil Dr. Mark Ahriman.
 

dask

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The "Finders And Makers" series by Van Wyck Brooks. Here's a little snippet from britannica.com:

The “Finders and Makers” series began with The Flowering of New England, 1815–1865 (1936), followed by New England: Indian Summer, 1865–1915 (1940), The World of Washington Irving (1944), The Times of Melville and Whitman (1947), and The Confident Years: 1885–1915 (1952). Criticized by some for seeking in this series a mainstream, essentially middlebrow, cultural tradition free from contradictions and conflicts, Brooks wrote The Writer in America (1953) to justify his position.

So far I've read the first and third in the series. Endlessly intriguing, I wouldn't hesitate recommending these to anyone. Despite the criticism mentioned above, The Flowering Of New England won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
 

Extollager

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The "Finders And Makers" series by Van Wyck Brooks. Here's a little snippet from britannica.com:

The “Finders and Makers” series began with The Flowering of New England, 1815–1865 (1936), followed by New England: Indian Summer, 1865–1915 (1940), The World of Washington Irving (1944), The Times of Melville and Whitman (1947), and The Confident Years: 1885–1915 (1952). Criticized by some for seeking in this series a mainstream, essentially middlebrow, cultural tradition free from contradictions and conflicts, Brooks wrote The Writer in America (1953) to justify his position.

So far I've read the first and third in the series. Endlessly intriguing, I wouldn't hesitate recommending these to anyone. Despite the criticism mentioned above, The Flowering Of New England won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
I have the Washington Irving one and, if it's as good as I hope it is, may move on to the others. They sound readable, entertaining, and informative, in contrast to the theory-dump-ridden stuff so often issued lately.
 

Extollager

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I meant the business of academic "critical theory," which produces, I suspect, a great deal many books that are read by hardly anyone -- but such is the "madness of crowds," they are necessarily produced to advance professors' careers.

----The labels proliferate: new historicism, cultural materialism, materialist feminism, ecofeminism, postcolonialism, deconstruction, structuralism, poststructuralism, race theory, gender theory, queer theory, postmodernism … the list might go on. This extensive list of labels seems to signal genuine range and diversity; however, in terms of their ideas, these approaches are somewhat narrower in scope and focus than one might expect. Virtually every approach listed here lays claim to be ‘radical’, which is to say politically of the left or even hard left – with roots in Marxist theory – hostile to capitalism, the Enlightenment, classical liberalism, liberal humanism, and even to the West itself. Virtually all are also committed to ‘social justice’. It must be noted that, since about 1980, these labels accurately register the genesis of literary studies as a discipline, but what they do not register is that, as they were rising, dissenting voices were systemically hounded out of the academy.---


That's what I had in mind. This isn't the place for a discussion, much less a debate, about these matters. But my sense is that the books Dask mentioned above by Van Wyck Brooks will be good reading for some of us who would not find the current stuff rewarding.
 

dask

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As good as The Flowering Of New England was I enjoyed The World Of Washington Irving a bit more. Third in the series it was actually written first if I'm not mistaken. Found it on the last day of the local library book sale several years ago for a quarter. Best quarter I ever spent.
 

Extollager

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As good as The Flowering Of New England was I enjoyed The World Of Washington Irving a bit more. Third in the series it was actually written first if I'm not mistaken. Found it on the last day of the local library book sale several years ago for a quarter. Best quarter I ever spent.
I've started The World of Washington Irving even though I had other books in mind!
 

vanye

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I meant the business of academic "critical theory," which produces, I suspect, a great deal many books that are read by hardly anyone -- but such is the "madness of crowds," they are necessarily produced to advance professors' careers.
----The labels proliferate: new historicism, cultural materialism, materialist feminism, ecofeminism, postcolonialism, deconstruction, structuralism, poststructuralism, race theory, gender theory, queer theory, postmodernism … the list might go on. This extensive list of labels seems to signal genuine range and diversity; however, in terms of their ideas, these approaches are somewhat narrower in scope and focus than one might expect. Virtually every approach listed here lays claim to be ‘radical’, which is to say politically of the left or even hard left – with roots in Marxist theory – hostile to capitalism, the Enlightenment, classical liberalism, liberal humanism, and even to the West itself. Virtually all are also committed to ‘social justice’. It must be noted that, since about 1980, these labels accurately register the genesis of literary studies as a discipline, but what they do not register is that, as they were rising, dissenting voices were systemically hounded out of the academy.---


That's what I had in mind. This isn't the place for a discussion, much less a debate, about these matters. But my sense is that the books Dask mentioned above by Van Wyck Brooks will be good reading for some of us who would not find the current stuff rewarding.
You are right that this is the wrong place to discuss the issue, because ultimately it would be a political discussion. And up to a certain point, I agree with you. There is a certain tendency in critical writing that one might perceive as self-serving. I think Terry Eagleton hits the nail on the head with his comment on Postmodernism in The Ideology of the Aesthetik (let it be known that some theorists have a wicked sense of humour):

(...) postmodernism has betrayed a certain chronic tendency to caricature the notions of truth adhered to by its opponents, setting up straw targets of transcendentally disinterested knowledge in order to reap the self-righteous delights of ritually bowling them over.
However, theory is not really about politics, it is about method. For example, Marxist theory is not about the theorist being a Marxist. It is about an approach to a text. Take Spivak ... If my memory serves me right, she looked at material wealth to analyse the power structures between men and women and called it a Marxist reading.

I must admit though, that it has been 20 and more years since I "did" theory and I haven't read any in the meantime. So there was probably plenty of time for it to go south. Nonetheless, I found it a great school for critical thinking and structure. So this is just me breaking a lance for my old discipline, I reckon.

If I may, I would recommend one book which I regard critical writing at its finest: David Richards: Masks of Difference. Cultural Representations in Literature, Anthropology and Art.

 

Toby Frost

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Following on from @Extollager 's point, for me the book that everyone ought to read is 1984. I've read One Day In The Life, but I think 1984 is better at explaining how totalitarianism works, what it's there for, and why a certain chunk of mankind finds it so alluring. It's also abstract, so there's no excuse for thinking that it's only about one country, one side, and so on.

A book that corrected popular myths, maintained and updated by an apolitical group of recognised experts, would be a very good thing.
 

Extollager

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A book that corrected popular myths, maintained and updated by an apolitical group of recognised experts, would be a very good thing.
Snopes.com might be doing a decent job of checking Internet rumors and statements reported in the current news, but a truly fair, accurate, decent book dispelling more chronic errors about history and science could be useful.
 

M. S. Ari

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I think Joseph Campbell's The hero with a thousands faces is a good candidate for anyone who like storytelling and reading
 

BAYLOR

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Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright .:cool:(y)
 
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