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Steve Silberman: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (2015) 4 stars

Humans treating humans badly

4 stars

This book feels like it is 80-90% about horrible ways that autistic people have suffered throughout history--including getting killed in ancient times and Nazi Germany, or getting institutionalized in the United States for being "feeble-minded," which really meant not conforming to the behavior that polite society expected. Near the end of the book, there start to be some positive stories, and some autistic people start to get a voice.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring : being the first part of The Lord of the Rings (Paperback, 2011, Harper Collins) 5 stars

This edition is based on the reset edition first published 2002 which is a revised …

Enjoyable revisit

5 stars

This is my first return to the Lord of the Rings in over 20 years. These characters are so iconic, and it's a pleasure to spend time with them again.

What stands out to me this time is: the best part of the book is the beginning in the Shire. The hobbits are more fun and colorful than the elves and heroes we meet later. When I was a kid, I just wanted to get past the boring Shire stuff to the exciting parts. As an adult I appreciate the glimpses at human nature through the hobbits of Tolkien who aren't on epic quests.

Jhumpa Lahiri: The Namesake (2004) 4 stars

The Namesake (2003) is the debut novel by American author Jhumpa Lahiri. It was originally …

Review of "The Namesake"

4 stars

I enjoyed reading about this Bengali couple adjusting to life in late-20th century suburban United States. The details about day-to-day life and their family interactions are great. Less entertaining are their son’s Gogol’s misadventures among Gilmore Girls-ish northeastern Ivy Leaguers. But the book is very well written and has a perspective worth discovering.

Review of Inspired Imperfection

4 stars

There's a chapter where Boyd lays out his disagreements with the theologian Karl Barth. This chapter is hard to understand and gets into confusing philosophical terms. It sticks out like a sore thumb in this book that is otherwise clear and written for a lay audience.

I enjoyed his personal story of wrestling with scripture, and his central idea of comparing the Bible to Jesus's crucifixtion.

finished reading We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Yevgeny Zamyatin: We (1993) 4 stars

We (Russian: Мы, romanized: My) is a dystopian novel by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin, written …

Not as preachy as 1984, a tighter and more exciting story than Brave New World. I appreciated the vagueness of the dystopia, with the narrator only providing as much background as necessary. Also I enjoyed how the narrator often left his sentences trailing. Besides being distinctive and interesting, I think it actually helped things move along. Kudos to the author for inventing the Borg, predicting ChatGPT, and dreaming up a beautifully flaky protagonist.

Richard Rohr: The Universal Christ (Hardcover, 2019, Convergent Books) 4 stars

Neither made me angry nor thrilled

3 stars

I'm glad Rohr wrote this book, and I hope it means a lot to some readers. It just didn't do a lot for me.

There were some opinions I already agreed with, such as his opposition to modern idolatry, individualism, escape theology, and determinism.

But I like when a book convinces me of (or at least makes me consider) something new. I didn't get that with this book. I suppose the closest was his intriguing argument that the walking on water miracle was misplaced, and actually took place after Jesus's resurrection rather than before. Interesting idea but not particularly important.

Maybe it's my lack of understanding, but Rohr seems to take words—such as Christ, universe, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection—and have them mean something else, not metaphorically but literally. I guess that's part of the mysticism of the book, but it didn't feel satisfying to me.

Also sometimes the book seemed to …

Leonard Herman: Phoenix IV (Hardcover, 2017, Rolenta Press) 4 stars

Hardware and sales figures

4 stars

This book is great as long as you know what you're getting into.

Some video games histories, like Console Wars and The Ultimate History of Video Games, are about individuals and story. Phoenix IV is not. The author loves sales figures and hardware. The former gets a little boring, although I'm happy he's cataloging it for posterity.

The hardware, however, is great. The author aims to describe as many video game consoles, controllers, and peripherals as possible, with photos. If you've ever walked into a used video game store and marvelled at a strange old piece of tech, then prepare for that to happen every couple of pages in this book!

I'm most fascinated by the number of times console manufactures tried to slap a keyboard peripheral onto their machine and call it a personal computer. It happened for decades.

Thanks to the author for all his years monitoring video …

Poignantly honest look at disability and the Christian church

5 stars

On my airplane ride across the country to and from this year’s CSUN conference, I had the privilege of reading the most extraordinary book: At The Gates: Disability, Justice and the Churches by Naomi Lawson Jacobs and Emily Richardson.

Through the personal stories and delving into the Old and New Testaments, this book has opened my eyes to the ways that disabled Christians have been excluded from the body of Christ, and sometimes even hurt by well (or not-so-well) meaning fellow believers.

I hate to even say much about the book. These powerful testimonies and inspired reading of Scripture should be discovered for themselves. But here is my favorite quote from the book, followed by a few spoiler-y highlights:

“The Kingdom of God is meant to look really different to a well-run organization. Jesus, our King, rode on a ridiculous unbroken donkey. He looked like a fool. And therefore that’s …

Review of 'Shot to Save the World' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

Very informative to learn that the end of quarantines brought about by COVID vaccines were due in part to:

• Lessons learned from unglamorous work on medications for malaria and AIDS
• Decades of mRNA studies
• Computer modeling
• Earlier research backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to combat disease in poor areas of the world

If the COVID pandemic had occurred any earlier in human history, the results would have been even more devastating.

It's good that the author documented the struggles of the scientists and entrepreneurs who, after years of slow scientific progress, were able to quickly develop effective COVID vaccines.

The main downside is the writing style seemed a little odd to me. There were lots of short one-sentence paragraphs and quotes from main characters that didn't add anything to the story. And occasionally you come across text that seems completely out of place, …

Diarmaid MacCulloch: A history of Christianity (2009, Allen Lane) 4 stars

Christianity, one of the world's great religions, has had an incalculable impact on human history. …

Review of 'A history of Christianity' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It took me three-fourths of a year but I finally made it through this book.

It has lots of names and places; it seems like each of the thousand pages could be expounded into a book itself. There are lots of examples of leaders doing the awful things they would have done anyway, but now with the certainty that they're doing it for Jesus Christ. There are also plenty of mentions of Christians doing great and helpful things in the world. There is a bit of theology, but overall events seem more driven by power and politics.

As a novice when it comes to history, I enjoyed this summary of civilizations in which Christians played a major role. The author has a pleasant style, occasionally snarky but mostly matter-of-fact. He doesn't have a horse in the race, which is a nice contrast to other books on Christianity which are starting …