Writers crave readers. I don’t care what they (or I) say; it is true. When words are written down, and especially when they are collected into a book, the writer wants to know that someone else has read those words and reacts to them in some fashion or other. When David Hume wrote his monumental Treatise, for example, it did not sell. As he said, “it fell stillborn from the presses.” Today it is regarded as one of the most important pieces of writing in the history of philosophy, something that every graduate student (if not undergraduate major) must read. But that is small solace for Hume who is very dead. In his lifetime it was not appreciated fully and he wrote the shorter, and more popular, Enquiry along the same lines and it did sell. Apparently the English audience was just not ready for the longer version. It does require a determined effort.
I have written or edited thirteen books along with numerous articles and book reviews. I love to write because I am interested in many things going on around me and I find that writing about them helps me to organize and clarify my thoughts. If I work my way through a problem and am able to find a way to express my conclusions I want to put them “out there” and see if they resonate with someone else. This is why I write my blog, of course, because I want to engender thought. That is why I went into teaching philosophy in the first place. Thus, paying homage to Socrates, I called my blog “The Daily Gadfly,” though I found that daily entries were too demanding.
Not all of my blogs are first-rate. Many are not even second-rate. But a few were pretty good and I thought it would be worthwhile to collect them into a book form, into chapters, with an index. I found a willing publisher and dedicated the book to my fellow bloggers, thinking they, of all people, would appreciate it and want to have a look. But, like Hume, this one “fell stillborn from the presses.” The publisher has given more away than he has sold, sad to say. But I remind myself: this is not a reading public, by and large. And many of those who read want to read snippets. This is why USA Today came into being. And, moreover, those very same blog posts that are in my book are also on-line for anyone to read — and for free. But they are not carefully selected, collected and organized in an attractive book with a cover designed by one of my former students!
In any event, I was aimlessly perusing the internet the other day, browsing on Google, and found on the web site goodreads a brief review by Emily of that very book. I was pleased because I had become convinced that not only has no one bought it, but, surely, very few have read it! In any event, I thought I would share her review with you in case you need to buy a graduate a present this Spring. Or something. Remarkably it is still available from Amazon of directly from the publisher Ellis Press in Granite Falls, Minnesota.
I love how this book discusses all important topics of life: love, religion, death, and education. This book presents Hugh’s philosophy in an easy, approachable manner. These entries, from his old blog posts, are organized into several sections so you can simply search for what you want.
Hugh, it is a good read and deserves more attention, the paying kind. It was nice to reread a few posts that I liked the first time around. Keith
Many thanks, Keith. I appreciate the fact that you found the book worthwhile.
I’m sorry, Hugh! I read and enjoyed your book very much, but have not yet written a review, which is remiss of me. For years, I wrote reviews of nearly every book I read, published them on Amazon, Goodreads and a number of other places. However, since Trump flew onto the scene, I have stopped writing book reviews. But … I will remedy that this week … it’s a promise.
It has been a disappointment,. But you are not at fault in any way! Your plate is full, so please don’t worry. I was not aiming at you!!
Oh I know it wasn’t directed at me, but I still feel badly … another reader/author, DeBasis, sent me a book of his poetry and I haven’t written a review for that either. I have made a note to at least get that much done this week! I loved your book, by the way, just as I love your posts … you always make me think a little deeper.
I have this book and I, too, recommend it. The same for Recalling Education and Rediscovering Values.
Respects and Regards,
You’re a good man, Jerry. Many thanks. It helps a great deal to know people you respect read and respond to your words.
The last time I was in the states, I was shocked to learn that a great bookstore – the only book store- had closed. I asked about the ‘used book store on the highway’ and was told that it too had closed. It’s rare to cross paths with avid readers, but such a joy to discuss favorite classics — and it’s always interesting to note that the ones who are not readers often tweak their heads as if they realized that they’ve missed out on something of importance.
Like you, I am baffled about lack of sales. Over 60 paintings/works of art in the show, and nothing sold. Half price to anyone who lost a home in the earthquake — and not even a five-dollar ‘booklet’ —
Unlike you, I was able to show my works in a museum where thousands of people passed through, and many were affected by the art and its message. I was totally unprepared for zero sales.
Alas, you will continue writing, and I will continue painting – as it’s part of our destinies – and remember: “That world, for all its pain, is also beautiful and filled with many good people trying their best to do good things.”
In this digital age books and paintings don’t “do” things. They don’t entertain. They require an active imagination and that is waning. But you will keep producing beautiful pictures and I will continue to blog — though the enthusiasm for that is also waning!