Saturday, 28 November 2015


God Sent Me: A textbook case on evolution vs. creationGod Sent Me: A textbook case on evolution vs. creation by Jeffrey Selman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: God Sent Me is the account of one citizen making himself heard and taking action to preserve constitutional protections in the context of the conflict between evolution science and religion-based creationism. When the public school board in Cobb County, Georgia, glued a disclaimer against evolution into the county’s new science textbooks, the implications were clear — separation of church and state and accurate education were at risk. Author Jeffrey Selman, along with several other like-minded citizens and the ACLU, marched into battle with a lawsuit against the forces undermining science education. This narrative shines a light on just what it takes to protect freedom and reminds the average citizen to “Wake up and get to work!” 

MY REVIEW: There is no doubt that fighting against the undermining of science in schools by religious zealots is an important fight to have. And it's great that individuals like Jeffrey Selman fight on the frontline. This book describes one such battle in extraordinary detail. And that detail is a major problem with this book. There is so much detail that after about a third of the book I chose to skim the rest. The book needs a good editor who can transform all the minutiae into a riveting story. We don't need to know that at exactly 5:45 he drove somewhere. We don't need transcripts of every conversation, interview and trial. The excessive detail detracts from the power of the story. That's disappointing because these stories do need to be told.

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Friday, 20 November 2015


You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding YourselfYou Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself by David McRaney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: How many of your Facebook friends do you think you know? Do you think you’d rush to a stranger’s help when no one else would? Do you think you choose which product to buy based on whether you like it? Do you think you know why you procrastinate? The truth is, you are not so smart. In fact, you’re pretty irrational, just like everyone else. But that’s OK – because that’s all part of being human. In this pithy celebration of self-delusion, David McRaney explores in 48 short chapters, the assorted ways we mislead ourselves everyday. Based on the popular blog, prepare for a whirlwind tour of the latest research in psychology, and to finally discover why we never get round to our New Year resolutions.

MY REVIEW: This book is essential reading for everyone — that is, everyone who considers themselves a flawed human. Those who don’t probably wouldn’t want to read it in case their delusions are shattered. It’s a wonderfully playful look at the ways our brains delude and deceive us. Each chapter starts with a brief statement of a misconception followed by the truth. Then the author provides a simple, fascinating account of the scientific and psychological research that shows how the misconception and the truth are produced by our brains. It’s a very enjoyable read and highly relevant in our contemporary society when there is so much our brains have to work with in deluding us. If you are looking to improve your intellectual humility, this is the book to do it. By the end of the 48 chapters, you won’t trust what your brain is telling you, you’ll be more cautious about what you think you know, and marvel at the highly sophisticated organ you have inside your head. Don’t miss this intriguing, enlightening, easy-to-read book!

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Thursday, 19 November 2015


Not In God's Name: Confronting Religious ViolenceNot In God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: In this powerful and timely book, one of the most admired and authoritative religious leaders of our time tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit—that is, my religion is the only right path to God, therefore your religion is by definition wrong—and individuals are motivated by what Rabbi Sacks calls “altruistic evil,” violence between peoples of different beliefs appears to be the only natural outcome.

MY REVIEW: NOT IN GOD’S NAME is one of the most profound books I have ever read. Jonathan Sacks provides an incisive analysis of the roots of religious violence and hopeful direction on the way that humanity may move forward in dealing with it. As recent events in France have demonstrated, none of us are immune or protected against the possibility of religious violence. This makes this book relevant to every one of us. Sacks asks in which direction we want to go — the will to power or the will to life? While Sacks is clearly passionate about this global problem, he writes with extraordinary depth and objectivity with a simple power that is difficult to ignore. Sacks calls all people — and particularly those of the Abrahamic religions — to let go of hate and the grasping for power. As Sacks so eloquently observes, No soul was ever saved by hate. No truth was ever proved by violence. No redemption was ever brought by holy war. No religion won the admiration of the world by its capacity to inflict suffering on its enemies. Despite the fact that these things have been endorsed in their time by sincere religious believers, they are a travesty of faith, and until we learn this, religion will remain one of the greatest threats to the peace of the world. NOT IN GOD’S NAME is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand religious violence (better called “altruistic evil”) — and more importantly, what we can do about it.

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Sunday, 1 November 2015

THE GARGOYLE by Andrew Davidson

The GargoyleThe Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The mesmerising story of one man's descent into personal hell and his quest for salvation. On a dark road in the middle of the night, a car plunges into a ravine. The driver survives the crash, but his injuries confine him to a hospital burn unit. There the mysterious Marianne Engel, a sculptress of grotesques, enters his life. She insists they were lovers in medieval Germany, when he was a mercenary and she was a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal. As she spins the story of their past lives together, the man's disbelief falters; soon, even the impossible can no longer be dismissed.

MY REVIEW: Brilliant! I was gripped from the first page right through to the end. The two main characters of the story are intriguing and we grow to know them as the story progresses. The two time dimensions are constructed with richness and detail by the author and the psychological dimensions of both characters is superbly developed. The author uses language evocatively. Embedded in the story are deep themes of grief, religion, philosophy, history, love and many more. They are integrated into the story almost seamlessly and never detract from the story. The story is fresh and unpredictable. A great read!

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