Sunday, August 14, 2005

A Sunday Book Ramble

The Sunday New York Times has a few good articles today.

  • Barbara Ehrenreich sums up the wisdom, or lack thereof, of the currently popular business books. Some of them, like Secrets of the Millionaire Mind which apparently claims that poor people are poor because of their negative victim mindset, are really scary. And even scarier than the books themselves is the fact that these are bestsellers that are being read by CEOs and wanna be CEOs. As Ehrenreich sums up:
    If you find them immoral, delusional or insulting to the human spirit, you should humbly consider the fact that, to judge from the blurbs on the backs of these books, they have won the endorsement of numerous actual C.E.O.'s of prominent companies. Maybe the books tell us what these fellows want their underlings to believe. Be more like mice, for example. Or -- and this is the truly scary possibility -- maybe the principles embody what the C.E.O.'s themselves believe, and it is in fact the delusional, the immoral and the verbally challenged who are running the show.
    I have seen these books in bookstores. I have seen people reading these books. I have not, and will not read these books. I did read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People once, a long time ago for a job at a retail store in which we had to give "presentations" to help us all become better salespeople. Not long after we were forced to do our presentations, it became increasingly clear that the store was in trouble. The ship was sinking and this rat jumped off. About six months later the store closed for good and I have never read another business book.
  • William T Vollman reviews a new biography on Friedrich Nietzsche. The book sounds interesting and reminds me of my philosophy project which has not yet gotten off the ground, or rather, the bookshelf.
  • Francine Prose reviews a new biography of Eudora Welty. This book, good though flawed according to Prose, sounds like an interesting read too.
  • On the personal reading front, I've not managed to progress much in Don Quixote. I am determined, however, to get back on track by reading at least one chapter every day. I'm also still reading volume two of Virginia Woolf's diary. I like to read an entry or two before bed. This is not a good method for zipping through a book, but it is a leisurely and enjoyable ramble. I started reading W.G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn last week. It is thus far a fascinating book. And I am reading a book I received in the mail called Anthropology of an American Girl. I haven't gotten far in it and am not quite sure yet what to make of it. I'm beginning to feel a little frantic, I am on the verge of having too many books going at once. And to add to that, I have a book for my occasional book group (Explicit Content) waiting at the library for pick up. And I requested another book from the library today, the book John Ruskin wrote as a drawing textbook. And to think not two weeks ago I had a moment of feeling like I wasn't in the middle of enough books. Oh, how the pendulum swings.