Goodreads

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.
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The Booker Award

My favorite blogger (MFB) newsofthetimes has awarded a number of her favorite bloggers the “Booker Award” for people who love books and spend much of their time with their noses buried in them. That’s me and I am especially touched by this award because “news” included me on her list. We have a mutual admiration thing going on here. The award requires that I list my five favorite books, mention at least five other bloggers who also deserve the award, and post the award itself.
I shall take these in reverse order:

My favorite blogger has already been mentioned and several others whom I would pass this award to are on the list “news” posted on her blog, including musingsofanoldfart and carrpartyoffive. And I thought immediately of EmilyJ, but “news” had already listed her. But there are a number of other exceptional bloggers and I will pass this award along to them:

1.Circles Under Streetlights. A woman who loves to read and also writes beautifully.

2. Seapunk2. A blogger who is alert and aware of whatever if going on around her in her home in the Pacific Northwest.

3. Salty Political Musings. The title says it all.

4. Jennifer Worrell. A very funny lady and her blogs are always worth reading.

5. Zebra Designs. A creative artist whose pictures along with her words always charm and delight.

6. Mindful Stew. A remarkable teacher who works hard at his craft and shares his insights and successes.

7. jotsfromasmallapartment has stacks of well-deserved awards. But I am sending this one along because she loves books and writes so well.

(I am stopping at 7 because folks in the middle ages regarded that number as lucky.)

The last requirement is the hardest because I have so many favorite books — books that I read again and again because, as I told “news” they reward me every time. But here goes:

1. Middlemarch. by George Eliot — the best book, perhaps, by one of the wisest writers I have ever read.

2. The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Freud called it the greatest novel ever written, and he may be right.

3. Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad’s amazing novella that cannot be read too many times.

4. Don Quixote. Cervantes knew how to make humor take us closer to the human experience.

5. Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel — for a reason.

So there are my favorites — or many of them. It boggles the mind to try to come up with favorites and you always fear you have left someone or something out. If I were concentrating on American authors I would certainly include Melville and Steinbeck along with Wharton. But the requirements were for the top five.  in any case, I do thank newsofthetimes again for the delightful award.