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April 24, 2011

Sunday Book Thread

(Note: I see some kind soul has already posted a Sunday Open Thread.)

Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire is one of my favorite novels of recent years, and was required-reading among many soldiers I know. Well, Pressfield has now published a slim little how-to book called Do the Work that might interest people who want to know how to complete projects -- not just creative projects, but any project, really. I'm not normally into self-help books, but this one is not so much a touchly-feely post-modernist tome as it is just some hard-headed pointers on how to avoid getting distracted. And a really cool thing: the Kindle version is free! (Do the Work seems to have been drawn from his longer book The War of Art, though I don't think it's an excerpt but a wholly separate work on the same topic.)

Another book I picked up is Back to Basics, which is sort of a "basic survival skills for dummies". It's a basic primer on how to perform a lot of manual tasks and chores (making and dying cloth, small-scale farming, and so on). It's probably meant as a "survive the apocalypse" kind of book, but I found it interesting just to read and find out how incompetent I really am at most things. The main problem with this book (as with most such books) is that it makes everything look too easy. It also tends to assume that you have the skills and tools needed to perform the various tasks.

Finally, I picked up a copy of Theodore Dalrymple's (the pen-name of Anthony Daniels) The New Vichy Syndrome. Dalrymple has been a favorite essayist of mine for years; his pieces in City Journal are almost always wonderful. He is also (as you might expect) a DOOM-crier after my own heart, only his target is not the US but his native England. He has been chronicling the descent of England in the postwar years (though, in his previous position as a prison doctor, he probably didn't see much good to leaven the bad, so perhaps his opinion is biased). He decamped for the Continent a few years ago, and now has produced a book about the strange mixture of smugness and terror that grips many European nations as unassimilated Muslim immigrants take over larger areas of the major cities. The general points are nothing new to readers of this blog, but Dalrymple has a wonderful way with words and a devastating ability to use anecdote and example to drive his points home. Highly recommended (as are his other books).

What is everyone else reading?

(Oh, and to my Christian friends: Happy Easter! He Is Risen!)

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posted by Monty at 08:54 AM

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