Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Some recent reading

Soldiers and Ghosts, by J.E. Lendon--The ethics and ideals of ancient Greek and Roman warfare, as exemplified in the epics and in the real-life battles. This is DOB's pick, but I'm finding it quite fascinating. Did you know those famous Spartans generally refused to fight on holidays? And they had lots of holidays. Plus, now I finally have the Persian, Peloponnesian, and Punic wars straight in my head. (Why do all these ancient wars have to start with "P"?)

The Disciplined Mind: What Every Student Should Know, by Howard Gardner. He's the guy best known for the "multiple intelligences" theory (no doubt you've taken the online quiz). This book looks at education more generally, however, arguing for a deep focus on a single topic in order to learn the tools for a specific discipline (history, science, the arts) rather than trying to cover a little bit of facts from everywhere. The goal should not be so much to cover all the dates and facts of history, or all the vocabulary and lists of the sciences, but to learn how historians or scientists approach problems.

The Creators, Daniel J. Boorstin. This is a history of human arts, with an emphasis on how people's beliefs are reflected in what they create. The Christian belief in a single creation, by an all-powerful transcendent God, for instance, encouraged a much greater emphasis on man's power to create, and human beings as supreme over creation, than did the emphasis of eastern religions on endless cycles and escaping material reality. So for instance permanent works of architecture are much more common in Europe, whereas in Asia landscape painting dates back much further (because humans are more or less just part of the landscape).

The Secret of Father Brown, by G. K. Chesterton. Some of my favorites of all the Father Brown mysteries. We're discussing it over at the Parliament of Fools.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Will the caterpillar recover from his stomachache? What will happen when he emerges from his cocoon? A classic of suspense.

I Am a Bunny, by Richard Scarry. The timeless story of the change of the seasons, viewed through the eyes of an overall-clad bunny.

1 comment:

Ben, Kyri & Rachelle said...

I love Boorstin's books. I have read The Creators and The Seekers and now I'm working through The Discoverers. Science takes a little longer for me! -rlr