Monday, November 10, 2014

And we're back!

Keep calm.  We're back.
borrowed from the website of someone
with better graphic skills than I have
thank you!

Hello, again. After a short hiatus (lasting longer than we'd intended) we will begin posting again in Reconnect to Reading.

In the November 7, 2014 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education is an interesting article entitled, "What Book Changed Your Mind":
The Chronicle Review asked 12 scholars what nonfiction book published in the last 30 years has most changed their minds—not merely inspired or influenced their thinking, but profoundly altered the way they regard themselves, their work, the world. ...

Two of the ten entries stand out:

Chris Impey, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, talks about Timothy Ferris' book, Coming of Age in the Milky Way
I was 33 and juggling a young family, research, teaching, and the demands of a busy academic life. With the pressure to publish and to bring in grants as my tenure decision approached, I was also working on an ulcer.
When a friend gave me a copy of a recently published book by Timothy Ferris called Coming of Age in the Milky Way (1988), I thanked him and set it aside. It was a popular book on astronomy, and I somewhat arrogantly assumed it had nothing to teach me. When I did pick it up, a month or so later, I was instantly absorbed. By the time I finished it, I was blown away.....
William Ian Miller, a professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School, talks about Robert Bartlett’s The Making of Europe 950-1350 
One of the greatest history books of the past 30 years is Robert Bartlett’s The Making of Europe 950-1350 (1993). I can think of no better nonfiction book I have read written in that period. But did it do more than teach me something and influence my thinking? Did it profoundly alter the way I regard myself and the world? Not on your life. I suspect that the author, though flattered, would think any reader nuts who so claimed. What Bartlett did show was that it is possible to write a learned book that informs the expert as well as the lay reader. Nary a compromise to dumb it down to sell. Just good writing, good ideas, and powerful material. ....
.... I am 68; if you had asked me the question about a self-transforming book when I was 19, I would have had to say just about half of the ones I read. You could say these books changed my mind, but my mind was pretty much a tabula rasa when I was in my first year of college. Rather they made my mind. Each week was a transformative experience. In one course these: the PensĂ©es, which made a callow teenage atheist suspend his judgment; The Red and the Black, which is fiction, I know, but I took it as how psychology would look if properly done. Besides, my first true love was Madame de RĂȘnal. Fear and Trembling followed, and it caused me to give up biochemistry for the humanities, because who in his punk teenage mind would have thought that you could write 46,000 words on 18 verses of Genesis and still not come close to exhausting the topic? It showed me what it meant to read, really read. But then next week it was The Genealogy of Morals. Oh, my. Transformed again. ....
Two different perspectives.  It's an interesting article.


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