05 February 2012

Three Book Blurbs

I read a lot of books, and I get my reading list from such a variety of sources, that sometimes the quality can be a little hit-or-miss.  So I have been very fortunate that my last three books have been so good.  All of them are highly recommended from me, to all of you.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years- I actually enjoyed the first half of this book (the more theoretical part) rather than the second half (the historical).  The whole thing was eye-opening, from Graeber's exploding the myth of barter to tracing debt through its various social, tribal, and sexual networks.  This book has been written up all over the Internet, so take the chance to look up some reviews and other articles first if you are reluctant to take the plunge.

The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from An American Faith- My only regret about this book is that it was not longer.  Not organized like a traditional birth-to-now memoir, but a series of vignettes from childhood, youth, and adulthood illustrating key principles of Mormonism.  Brooks is exactly the kind of informal, unofficial spokeswoman that the Church needs at this moment.

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed- I don't think any book I have read recently, or maybe ever, has this kind of potential to change the way that I think about policy than this one.  Its not just a conservative-vs.-liberal sort of thing, but something down deep in the bowels of wonkery.

The Nightstand (February 5, 2012)

What Makes Great Charter Schools Great? (Matt Yglesias, Slate Moneybox)

Inequality, the Middle Class, and Growth (Jared Bernstein, On the Economy)

Doing the Math on Obama's Deficits (Ezra Klein, Wonkblog/WaPo)- Because every article that can refute the kind of nonsense that floats around on this issue is worth reading and passing along.

Introducing the iFactory (Farhad Manjoo, Slate)

The Austerians Attack! (James Crotty, In These Times)

Secrecy Shrouds 'Super PAC' Funds in Latest Filings (Nicholas Confessore & Michael Luo, NYT)- No matter who ends up winning the presidential election in November, I think that SuperPACs will end up being the biggest election year story.  Also see Colbert v. The Court (Dahlia Lithwick, Slate) and Can We Have a Democratic Election? (Elizabeth Drew, NYRB)

What Moral Philosophy Tells Us About Income Inequality (Kentaro Toyama, The Atlantic)- John Rawls vs. Mitt Romney

Jonathan Haidt Decodes the Tribal Psychology of Politics (Marc Parry, The Chronicle Review)- I can't wait to read Haidt's book.

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