Category Archive: Books

Apr 21 2014

The evolution of P.G. Wodehouse

I am a huge fan of author P.G. Wodehouse and have read and re-read a large fraction of his oeuvre, a not insignificant feat considering how prolific he was. I am particularly partial to his Blandings Castle series and his Jeeves and Wooster series. While the books are self-contained, they do contain recurring characters so …

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Apr 17 2014

New book on helping atheists come out

Despite all the advances that atheists have made in recent years, it is still not easy for some to declare themselves to be unbelievers. This is so even in the US and in some countries it is sufficient to warrant the death penalty.

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Mar 20 2014

Harry and Hermione (Harry Potter spoiler alert!)

When I was reading the Harry Potter books, although J. K. Rowling told a good yarn and plotted her stories well, the romance between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley never seemed to me to be plausible. It seemed like the author was trying to avoid the obvious narrative device of the leading man and leading …

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Mar 17 2014

Yertle, the one-percenter

Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was the author of many much-beloved clever children’s books. He was quite progressive in his views and many of his stories can be read as metaphors, critiques of society and war and the destruction of the environment.

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Feb 10 2014

Revealing the endings of books

In a comment to my post on not being able to understand the mentality of people who deliberately spoil things for others by going out of their way to reveal the endings of stories, I was focusing more on films but also mentioned books.

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Feb 07 2014

100 books to read in a lifetime

There is something quite alluring about lists, especially if they are lists of things that one cares about. Sites that specialize in ‘listicles’ (articles that are lists of things) are sometimes accused of using them as click bait and I must say it is a successful strategy at least some of the time for me.

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Nov 18 2013

Trying to solve a puzzle for which there is no solution

I grew up voraciously reading mystery novels, with Agatha Christie being my author of choice, with other mystery writers thrown in from time to time. She was a prolific writer and I suspect that I have read at least 90% of her output. Hence my ideas about the conventions of that genre have largely been …

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Nov 04 2013

Book review: Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief (2013) by Lawrence Wright

Reader Norm kindly sent me a copy of the above book and said that he had enjoyed it and I must say that it was a real page-turner. I had intended to write a full review but I came across a good one by Diane Johnson in the New York Review of Books, along with …

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Oct 22 2013

Book review: Dirty Wars (2013) by Jeremy Scahill


The book came out earlier this year and a documentary film with the same name was released in June and is available on demand on Netflix. Both cover the same ground but in different ways and are invaluable for anyone who wants to understand how the war of terror has evolved and where it is …

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May 16 2013

Charles Knowlton and the golden age of freethought

If you asked me to list the names of 19th century American atheists, I would have said Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) and stopped. He is clearly the most famous but it turns out that there is another person who preceded him, and that was Dr. Charles Knowlton. I became aware of him because of a …

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