Friday, May 28, 2010

Books, and threads of thought

This last trimester the book group at my weekly homeschool co-op chose to read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We had ten weeks to read and discuss it, but everyone whizzed through the book in three (and most of us in one). Great discussions, lots of interest, and a million rabbit trails to follow. So instead of moving on to another book we each went off and read related material: some people read up on Islam, some about women in third world countries, some about immigration and economics.

I read different theories of social justice, because I'm interested in the difference between toleration and what we tolerate. Then for different reasons I began reading Rapt: Attention and the Focused Lifeby Winifred Gallagher, which is about how the things we choose to pay attention to shape our lives. That had some oblique ties into how religion affects decision-making. This week I picked up Sheena Iyendar's The Art of Choosing, and found a wealth of thought-provoking ideas about how living in a culture that values individualism leads to different perspectives on choice than living in a culture where the collective good is valued.

I love the brain-popping electricity that comes from connecting disparate lines of thought. Bring me to the meeting point of culture, religion, economics, and neurobiology, and I am intrigued and very much alive. (Though I realize I am more than my brain, especially since this morning I started reading Out of Our Heads by Alva Noe.)

Some day I'll figure out how to get a nifty sidebar that shows what I'm reading, but my inner Luddite thinks it's still preferable to write something about my interests from time to time.
InfidelRapt: Attention and the Focused LifeThe Art of ChoosingOut of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, and Other Lessons from the Biology of Consciousness

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