Monday, February 29, 2016

February Book Report

February is coming to a close -- I feel I have to acknowledge I'm posting on that special day of a leap year!  All the hoopla aside, it's time for a quick recap of some of the books I've read this past month and can recommend.

My book group read Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith this month and we all enjoyed it.  Whiskey and Charlie is the story of identical twin boys, how they perceive each other, and how the way others perceive them influences the feelings they have about themselves.  It's also about grief, regret, love, expectations, and what it can mean to be a sibling, partner, child, and friend.  It's as easy as a beach read, but offers a lot to think and talk about.

I finished The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.  What a fascinating, and humbling, book.  First, I realized how much cultural world history I didn't know... but now I (sorta) do.  Second, I enjoyed traveling with Weiner as he recreated environs of millennia and centuries past to describe the unique settings and circumstances that helped spawned pools of genius.  Third, I really liked the investigation into creativity, creative people, and the receptive audiences that are necessary to recognize genius.  Yep, a genius is just an undiscovered talent (or a crackpot) if what (s)he does isn't recognized as adding value.  I also appreciated the value of discourse for the genius's growth.   The examination of contrary ideas, of educated debate, is critical to the development of a genius's ideas.  Living in isolation doesn't produce more dynamic inventions and thoughts, nor does living in paradise.  Stirring the pot is a component of genius, as is living in a place or time that recognizes failure not as a stigma, but as a part of the process.  One of the final segments I highlighted in the book is as follows:

We need to begin thinking of creativity not as a genetic endowment, a gift, but as something that is earned -- through hard work, yes, but also through the careful cultivation of favorable circumstances. We need to begin thinking of creativity not as a private indulgence but as a public good, part of the commons. We get the geniuses that we want and that we deserve.


Reading about particular circumstances of human genius has led me to this book:

Now I'm reading about the social and cognitive genius of dogs, man's best friend.  How did these two vastly different species that evolved on opposite sides of the globe  come together?  What particular skills and genius does a dog have that have made it so successful on such a widespread scale?  I'll let you know.

P.S.  For my Anonymous Reader (you know who you are), here are a few good non-fiction books about Western Expansion that have my husband's stamp of approval.  Sorry it took so long to put the list here. You might be familiar with and have read a few of these, but hopefully there's a new title here for you to enjoy.

Kearney's March by Winston Groom

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Side


Karen L R said...

I have just been invited to join a book club here. This month we are reading Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. We will meet to discuss the book, enjoy a potluck supper and then view the movie. The book is long and dense, but such an important work.

Thanks for your recaps. I will make note of them.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list of books Viv. I'll also put the Genius of Dogs on it. I have three and they all think they're so smart. Maybe they should read the book and stop chasing squirrels.