mental diversity

7 Dec

I’ve stumbled onto the recipe for mental diversity: let these four books volley you back and forth for a while.


1. Pastoralia, by George Saunders. Fiction [Short Stories]. 2000.
Known for imaginative but intensely profound works like “Fox 8” and “Puppy,” in “Pastoralia” he delves into the hypothetical world of historical theme parks, in which his main characters play neanderthals and are ordered to remain in character, despite the fact that no one has been coming to the park for some time.

2. The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture, by Wendell Berry. Nonfiction. 1977.
In what could be one enormous essay, agrarian thinker and cultural writer Wendell Berry discusses the paradox—and utter failure—of using the term “agribusiness,” the inarguable interconnectivity of the human body and the greater biological system of the Earth, and the beautiful restraint—which has produced immense physical and communal health—practiced by various ethnic groups around the world.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. Fiction. 2007.
No need for an abstract here; I just haven’t ever gotten around to finishing the series. Six down, one to go.

4. Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, by Carl Wilson. Nonfiction. [Part of the 33 1/3 Series.] 2007.
Using Celine Dion as the subject for what has been called the best critique of music culture and the concept of “taste” in the past decade, Carl Wilson’s 150 page exploration charts a course through the world of “schmaltz,” Celine’s perceived craziness, our brains’ response to sounds that are “too new,” and a global culture that time and time again chooses Celine over all others.


Nope. I don’t think I’ve left any corner of my brain unprodded.

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