Saturday, April 12, 2008

Some Good Books

Grad school is great but it sort of sucks up most of your free time and some times it makes your brain hurt or your ears bleed. I haven't had the bleeding ear thing, but know people who know people who've had it. Anyways, one thing grad school allows you to do is read lots of stuff and I like reading so that's a good thing. In light of all this reading I thought I'd pass along a few books that I've read over the last little bit. I'd love to get some good recommendations from the rest of the Provonian crew cause I'm always looking for some good reads.

Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv

This is a real interesting treatment of the relationship between kids and the outdoors. The author draws on a lot of current research that suggests that kids are spending less time in the outdoors and that they're suffering physically, emotionally and mentally because of it. All you parents out there should check this out. Contact with nature is being linked to increased self-confidence, improved performance among kids with ADD and ADHD, and a host of other benefits. Louv does a good job presenting current research info but the book's a little light on practical suggestions about how to fix the problem. I guess that's up to us.

The Culprit and the Cure, Stephen Aldana

Now I know health/exercise books aren't always the greatest page turners but this is a worthwhile book to read. The author, a prof at BYU, has condensed all the "health" research into this very accessible book. He deals with the current state of health in the US and then talks about what can be done to fix the problems. It's pretty shocking stuff at times, such as almost all chronic disease (e.g., cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.) is due to diet and lifestyle. Since we're all becoming fossils this is important stuff to think about, luckily the solutions are pretty straight forward. Exercise 30 min. a day and eat 5 fruits and vegetables for starters. Anways, check it out and if you do what he suggests you're guaranteed to get ripped, chiseled, buff and if you're bald your hair will grow back and you'll be able to fly (at least I think I remember reading that...or maybe it was dream).

Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin

I love good biographies and this is a great one. It's actually multiple biographies rolled into one. It focuses on both Lincoln and the men who served in his cabinet. What's amazing is that Lincoln chose men who were the best qualified to serve the nation regardless of whether or not they agreed with or even liked him. Most of the men were or had been at odds with Lincoln at some point and a number of them had treated Lincoln in ways that most people would never have forgiven. Luckily, Lincoln was able to put aside his personal ego and focus on how to best meet the needs of the country. Even more impressive is that each of these men, some of whom initially considered Lincoln little more than a country fool, came to respect and admire him.

So, there you have it, three books I wanted to pass along to y'all. Let me know what you think and let's hear what everyone else is reading.


  1. What is this 'reading' thing you speak of?

  2. Great post Mat. I wish I got to read cool books in my grad school program. It's all research articles and bleeding ears for us. I definitely want to read the Lost Child in the Woods.

    Hmmm, I probably need to work on my health habits too. I am having some success making the transition from high quantity food to high quality food. There are some cheap foods that disgust me now whereas I used to be able to down them. I still pig out on desserts like no tomorrow, but I think I am making some strides there.

    It's been a couple of months since I've actually completed a book.I did recently start reading The Well Trained Mind. It is a home schooling curriculum based on a classical education model called the trivium. Maybe I will post my thoughts on it some time.

  3. i read "on writing" by stephen king and he made me feel guilty for all of the television i was watching. he called me a phony. i bought every word he said. he doesn't condemn watching television outright, but he did challenge my reasons for watching. and it cut me to the quick. he is a wise and evil man.

    he also gave me permission to listen to audiobooks, the which has become my new obsession. these days, i have several books by the bed (seriously, like, five), one in the bathroom (sick) and three audiobooks going at once: one on my computer at work, one on the machine at home, and one on the ipod. it's been the most enriching time of my life. i do have the advantage of a job where i draw pictures all day, and a drive to and from work, so listening to books is finally a possibility.

    but i don't read exercise books. mostly classics. and anything by david sedaris.

  4. I just learned that white people love David Sedaris, and even though Regan assures me I know who he is, I'm not sure I believe her.

    I don't usually read nonfiction, although, I just finished "Fever Pitch" (awesome) and am reading a summary of pre-Columbian American history (did you know that the Inca sailed, like on the ocean), so that's pretty weird. I'm reading a lot now, due to Regan's influence. It also helps that we don't have cable, or a decent antenna for the TV.

  5. Is it just me or is the 'stuff white people like' blog the most obnoxious site ever? Take how obnoxious little Holmes is (you know I love you Rich) and magnify it by 10,000 and you get that site.

    It reminds me of 'The Simpsons' when Homer's watching the comedian:

    Comedian: Black guys drive a car like this:

    (Comedian imitates cool sounding bass playing in car)

    Comedian: Yeah, but white guys drive a car like this:

    (Imitates a nerdy white guy driving a car. Homer laughs hysterically)

    Homer: It's true! It's true! We're so lame!

    I think I just stumbled on #96'White people like 'The Simpsons'. What's up with that? White people like 'The Simpsons.' I don't get it!

  6. Sniff. Sob. I always thought you loved me. (Now crawling into the fetal position as it starts to rain.) [End scene]

  7. In order to improve their status as unique, non-conformists, traits highly valued by whites, many will pretend to not like bands, movies, or websites that achieve sudden popularity, regardless of the actual merit of the newly popular item in question.

  8. I do that. Well, I try to find things that are popular and of merit, but I generally assume that if it's popular it probably sucks. Case in point, the Da Vinci Code, Grey's Anatomy, American Idol, or any show my mom watches. But lots of things have proved me wrong, including the Office, 30 Rock, Arrested Development, etc.

  9. I hope Mom reads this.

  10. Yes, little Holmes is right, those mom shows do suck.

    And I really don't like that site, not because others like it, but because:

    1) The observational humor rubs me the wrong way. You can say white people like anything and write some quippy passage about it and people would agree.

    White people like lamps

    White people like salad

    White people like history

    White people like pristine white teeth

    You know what? White people DO like those things, that guy is a genius.

    2. I think it's problematic to categorize any group in such a way, even if your intentions are to be humorous. It's like saying women love shopping or Mormons' love green jell-o and have lots of wives. Such generalizations are demeaning to the group they refer to, even if that group is a majority.

    Any other fun things I can poo-poo?

  11. I guess that's why it strikes me as funny. There are so many stereotypes out there about what other cultures and ethnic groups like that are just ridiculous. I mean, trying to make a generalization about 1 billion Chinese is pretty silly. By making similarly ridiculous, sweeping generalizations about white people it highlights how absurd stereotypes truly are.

    I also find the whole theme of "this is what you can do to win favor with white people" pretty hilarious. It's like it's the tourist guide to understanding this unique culture and their strange way of life.

    The other thing I like about it is that it mocks the urban-elite types. White people doesn't mean Red State, gun-totin' Joe, it really means urban, Blue-State, NPR listening, liberal Roderick and all of his quirks. I guess my inner Red-state, country boy identifies with that.

  12. Okay after more thought . . .

    1. I was just joking about not liking it because others do . . . I just wanted to write a "things white people like" comment. Anyway, that was probably clear.

    2. Yeah, humor that makes fun of groups can be harmful, but I just don't see it. Maybe I don't see it because whites and males are fair game in our society, or something else that I am missing.

  13. Good points Holmes, I think that if I was introduced to the site in a different way I might have liked it more. It was kind of 'hey, you're like this' and then as I read it I thought "I'm not like this, screw you 'white people' guy!"

    And frankly humor itself is always tricky, I don't like dissing something that's, for all intents and purposes just supposed to be fun. Maybe I should just lighten up.

  14. I was just trying to think of a good name for someone who might belong to the "whine and cheese" crowd and it was the first one that came to mind.

  15. I think "Miles" or "Patrice" would be good.