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Category Archive: Books

Jun 22 2014

Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Collectivism

Mallory Ortberg has taken upon herself the task of imagining what the Harry Potter series of books might have turned out to be like if the idea had first occurred to Ayn Rand. She is taking each of the seven books in turn. Here is an excerpt of what Harry Potter and the Prisoner of …

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May 24 2014

Book review: No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald

I finished the book (its full title is No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State) in two sittings. It is not too long (about 250 pages) and Greenwald has a direct style where he says what he means without weasel words that makes it easy to follow. It describes …

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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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