I first encountered Jesse Wegman’s Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College on display at a Half Price Books store soon after the book was published in 2020. My first impression was feeling like the book was unnecessary. I had never heard anyone arguing in favor of the Electoral College, and honestly I didn’t know of anyone who really supported it. I certainly agreed with the title, that the College ought to be abolished, so I felt like reading a book to explain why would be a waste of time. I later changed my mind (granted, after the 2020 election had taken place) and decided that I wanted all the information to make sure my opinion on this debate was an informed one.
If you’ve read Cosmos by Sasha’s father, and you’re wondering what the universe’s immensity and grandeur mean for humanity, then you will love this book. The title comes from a quote (from Carl’s novel Contact) written by Ann Druyan, Sasha’s mother and Carl’s wife. The quote says in its entirety, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” Cosmos explores the vastness. Sasha’s book explores the rest: how we, the small creatures, can use love to make it bearable. The subtitle, Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World, gives us a hint on how to do that.Read more
If you’re reading this blog, then chances are that you have a pretty good grasp on what Christianity is. But did you know that Christianity as we know it almost didn’t succeed in early centuries? You may have heard whispers of various ancient sects of barely recognizable Christian beliefs, and it turns out that the rumors are true. The ancient Christians that we know—whether we love them or hate them—had to struggle against their competitors known as the gnostics, better known to history as heretics.
For centuries, historians have known about the gnostic Christians and their texts only through the writings of their enemies, the orthodox or catholic Christians (which gave rise to the many denominations of Christianity existing today). You can imagine how hard it was to understand the gnostic point of view with their only documentation being from those who despised them. So it was immensely exciting for historians when the gnostic gospels themselves were discovered near Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1946. The discovery was an exercise in patience, though; it would be thirty years until an English translation of the full library would be published in 1977. Elaine Pagels must have gotten to work quickly, then, as her book The Gnostic Gospels was published in 1979.Read more
This is the first time that I have ever reviewed a memoir. I’ve joked with my husband about it: how do you critique a book recounting someone’s life story? “Good job having a life, it was really interesting”? However, there is a lot to reflect on in On Her Knees. Before I get into it, as a graphic designer, I have to applaud this book’s incredible cover art. I love to pick apart designs and think of how they could be improved, but as for On Her Knees‘ final cover, I came up empty. It’s perfect.Read more
Only one week ago from today, I wrote of The Disordered Cosmos, “This book is particularly intriguing because my perception is that it is about physics, astronomy, Star Trek, and how science needs to be a more accepting space for women and people of color. I just bought it yesterday as my reward for making it through the week, and I am so eager to get started!” I had a decently correct idea of what the book actually is, but in no way was I prepared for what I would learn.Read more
If a book can be “hot” in the world of paleoanthropology, then Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art is that book. Published in the fall of 2020, Kindred is the latest in a long line of books about Neanderthals, but anyone who has read Kindred knows that it is not like the others.Read more
I’ll be honest with you: Stamped from the Beginning is a very intimidating book in more ways than one. It’s a 511-page tome, which makes sense considering that it is, as the subtitle tells us, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. It’s won several awards, and for good reason.Read more
After reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and The Demon-Haunted World, I decided that it was time to return for Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, the Cosmos sequel famous for the short but poignant speech of the same name. Pale Blue Dot is possibly the most humbling book you will ever read, and that rings especially true for anyone who believes that the Universe was created exclusively for humans.Read more
When a person leaves religion or loses their faith, I’ve found that they tend to go one of two ways. Some people lose interest in religion altogether and want to get as far away from it as possible. In a way, I think this is a shame, because I’m one of the people that goes the other way; I decided that I wanted to give religion a closer look. I turned back around after walking away to scrutinize the history of Christianity and determine which parts of it, if any, are really true. And what have I found?Read more
After reading The Demon-Haunted World, I was hoping to find a book that was a bit more fast-paced before moving onto something else academic. I started reading a book that I had had on my shelves for a few months: The Peking Man is Missing by Claire Taschdjian. The Peking Man is a group of fossils that has gone through several names but is now classified as Homo erectus.Read more