Books I Read In 1995
Books are listed in reverse chronological order
Books Dr.J. is reading this year
How to Want What You
Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Ordinary Existence,
by Timothy Miller. Tim Miller's book is the only self-help
book solidly informed by evolutionary psychology. Interestingly, it is
also very spiritual. He suggests that wanting what you have can be accomplished
by practicing three attitudes: compassion, attention, and gratitude.
The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating, by David Buss.
I began reading this book last fall and put it down after three chapters,
because I was already so familiar with the book's thesis: That men and
women pursue activities that led to our ancestors' reproductive success,
and that these activities often bring the sexes into conflict with each
other. Buss does a superb job in supporting the thesis with both reasoning
and empirical evidence. But I wish he had spent more time discussing ways
of managing sexual conflict, as opposed to just understanding it. Nonetheless,
I still recommend the book highly.
Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, by Lawrence Sutin.
principle interest in this book was finding out more about
K. Dick's 2-3-74 experience. Clearly (to me, anyway) it is a case of
mild temporal lobe epilepsy. On the other hand, there IS a reference to
Anton Wilson . . .
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, by Philip K. Dick. Described
as one of Dick's masterpieces, considered by John Lennon for a movie adaptation,
this book lives up to its reputation. The key insight for me is that if
a 'higher intelligence' began invading our realities, distorting our sense
of time and identity, we would be hard-put to overcome the invasion.
The Global Brain Awakens, by Peter Russell. He pushes
all of the right buttons for me (the earth is a living organism, the Internet
is part of Gaia's evolving nervous system, we are all One, etc.) but Russell
doesn't integrate these ideas as well as I'd hoped. Particularly disjointed
are Part 2, Evolution of the Global Brain, and Part 3, Inner Evolution
through meditation. Also, his very best "insights" already appear in the
Tao Teh Ching, although he has a very nice development of Alan
Watts's analysis of the skin-encapsulated ego.
Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. Ambitious exploration of
what is, to me, the fundamental question: 'What does it mean to live in
harmony with nature?' Follow this link for a concept
summary of Ishmael.
The Fifth Sacred Thing, by Starhawk. Sign me up for
this commune. The earth has been nearly destroyed by male technology, but
a gynocentric, nature-loving colony remains.
A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick. This brought
back many tragicomical memories of the druggies I used to know.
Solar Lottery, by Philip K. Dick. I chose to read
as my first Dick novel his first SF novel.
In Search of Stones, by M. Scott Peck. Peck's surprising
self-disclosures about his foibles helped me feel more self- accepting
Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray. This
book's dorky title almost kept me from looking at it, but I found the book
to be insightfully accurate and helpful for understanding male/female differences
in communication style. Interested in buying this or another book? Follow
this link to a great virtual
You Just Don't Understand, by Deborah
Tannen. Tannen is also a remarkably keen observer of
sociolinguistic sex differences. Check out this description of a conversation
between Tannen and Robert Bly.
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John A. Johnson
November 26, 1995