Thursday, March 25, 2010

This Week at the Library (25/3)

This week at the library...

Letter from the Birmingham Jail, written by Martin Luther King Jr, is a response to King's critics in which King explains the necessity and appropriateness of civil disobedience in the Civil Rights movement. The letter also allows King to voice his disappointment with moderates and the Christian church for opposing the Civil Rights movement more than they assist it.

Conspirata by Robert Harris is the second book in his biographical trilogy of Cicero. Taking place during Cicero's year as a consul, the book sees Cicero tackle the Cataline Conspiracy and earn for himself the title "Father of the Nation", a title seldom given before the rise of the emperors. Unfortunately for Cicero, Cataline was only the beginning of both his and the Republic's difficulties. Conspirata may one of Harris' better works.

The Road to Wigan Pier  documents lives and working conditions of coal miners in northern England,  the consequences of class consciousness, and sees Orwell promote democratic socialism while explaining why socialism has been so unpopular up until that point (1937).  Wigan will be useful to the social historian of the period.

Lost Discoveries by Nick Teresi is a history of global science, or at least a history of humanity's investigation and explanation of the natural world that draws from the accounts of  nearly every civilized culture on Earth. Seperate chapters focus on mathematics, astronomy, cosmology, physics, geology, chemistry, and technology, and show clearly that curiousity about the natural world and unique approaches to satiating that curiosity are part of the human heritage. Although the book had its weaknesses, I enjoyed it immensely.

Pick of the week? Oh, dear -- this week's reading was too strong to play favorites.

Quotation of the Week: "Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with."  (King, Letter from the Birmingham Jail)

Upcoming Reads:
  • The Infernova, S. A. Alenthony's witty retelling of Danta's classic Inferno.  Mark Twain replaces Virgil as the narrator's guide into the abyss of Hell....a hell populated not by the impious, but the unreasonable.
  • Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr. This is a collection of sermons and essays I am very much looking to: I read Letter from the Birmingham Jail in part to whet my appetite. 
  • Bhagavad Gita, Stephen Mitchell
  • 1421: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus by Charles Mann.
  • And of course, there's always The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris, which I accidentally forgot about.
  • In addition, I'm still hiking through a classic of contemporary literature.

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