Friday, January 3, 2014
Weekly Book Post: American Nations, Back to Normal, and Great Gatsby
This week was marked by holiday break and a couple days of illness, so I had plenty of time to just sit and read.
American Nations was featured on NPR recently, and the story piqued my interest. The book was just as interesting, with a very high-level/abstract sort of storytelling that stuck with themes and the big-picture so it was an easy and fast read. My favorite part, however, was the different perspective on the Founding stories, with Spanish America and French America given more explanation here than we usually here when we read an anglo-centric history of the U.S.
Back to Normal is a publication of Beacon Press, so I saw it when I got my catalog from them. The author is a clinical psychologist, and this book is his argument against what he sees as the over-diagnosis and over-medicating of today's children. While acknowledging that there can be real conditions of the brain - a biological issue - he also upholds the need to look to context and environment. This is Nature AND Nurture, and a moderate voice that I appreciate hearing in the debate.
I've wanted to read The Great Gatsby by a long time, but haven't got past the first chapter any of the times I've picked up the book. This time I plowed through it, and found the tragic beauty in this "masterpiece". Although none of the characters are very likeable, and it reveals no great truths about life, it has a simple and stark tragic arc that I found deeply compelling. And now I need to watch the two movie versions!