We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Here you're taught to ignore substance for symbolism.
It's true that many writers embed symbolism in their writing. But that's rarely what the writing really means--usually it should be treated as seasoning, like the paprika is a goulash. This book reminds me all to well of the English courses I took at the 17th-rated public university in America, and for sure they were taught just like this writer would have you believe.
But I believe it does a disservice to literary substance to put this cart before the horse of character-driven literature, to speak symbolically.
Instead of asking "what did the owl's presence mean in chapter 3?" you should first be asking "Are these characters' actions in these circumstances plausible, and if not, why?"
Even in a phantasmagorical work like Samuel Beckett's "Malone Dies," if you pay close enough attention to the characters and the settings, and to the language evoking both, without preconceptions, you'll understand what's going on. But I bet you won't if you immediately launch into a symbolic analysis of the novel--even though "Malone Dies" has plenty of symbolism.
I believe taking this writer seriously will lead you astray, even when considering the more symbolic novels.
In college I encountered far too many profs who were so enamored of their intellectual toys they forgot what they were there for.
This book will definitely help college students get better grades--at the expense of also teaching them how to misread literature.
re: "The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama's War on the Republic"
Books like this on either side usually have exactly nothing in them that you could use to persuade someone who wasn't already as partisan as you are to vote as you plan to vote. They start from premises the other side doesn't accept, then proceed to conclusions that are irrelevant to anyone who doesn't agree with those premises.
So the sole purpose of books like this is self-pleasuring. They're useless as persuasive tools.
I could write a book for or against Obama or Romney that would contain useful, persuasive stuff, because I see the point of view of both sides of our divided electorate. Partly because I'm a liberal married for 30 years to a staunch conservative and attend a church that's at least 90% solidly right wing.
But a book like this is totally useless. Not one vote will be switched because of it, not one more person will vote who wouldn't have because of it. Though buying it does help fund the propaganda operation of the right, but since that operation is funded by billionaires they hardly need your hard-earned dollars.
re: "The Quest for God: A Personal Pilgrimage"
Another example of shipping coals to Newcastle. Nearly all books of this ilk--and they are innumerable--start with a tautology that defines God persuasively...for the author, and for others who already share such beliefs.
The title says it all. But here's a news flash. Most people who aren't religious aren't questing for God in the first place, because they realize, as any sane empiricist does, that the word "God" is empirically undefinable, and thus not of any interest other than sociological/anthropological/psychological.
Empiricists love life, by and large, are interested in morality, and on average know far more about religion than most evangelicals do. "God" as a presence in their life, though, is simply irrelevant. We don't say "There is no God." We don't say there is. We care about many things, but not this.
So again here's a book that preaches to the choir. I don't understand why such books exist, except to give people of faith who are secretly insecure about their faith something to build back up their religious illusions that had perhaps been getting a bit frayed around the edges.
Good luck with that. Religious people tell me they look through a telescope at the stars or behold the "miracle of life" and "know" that this proves "God" "exists." I see the same things and know nothing of the sort. They have no idea how people like me think and feel. and they have no idea what a meaningless exercise we see books like this as being.
re: "How To Win Friends And Influence People: A Condensation From The Book"
The uncondensed book is so short, why condense it even further? Everything Carnegie says rings true and this is a useful book--as long as one understands that Carnegie's purpose in writing it is not to teach you how to manipulate other people into liking and admiring you--it's about how to become the sort of person who is a good friend and good leader.
The saddest thing about the book is how many hustlers have read it in order to become more skillful con artists--like the guys in secuders' clubs who train themselves in how to damage women's self-esteem so much they'd go out with such loo-hoo-sers as these guys.
I'm tired of being so cynical, but it comes with age I think. I was initially persuaded of your approach, and your words, they seem smart, and experienced. But this line holds me short from taking you seriously...
"Though buying it does help fund the propaganda operation of the right?
So, it seems that, no matter your degree from the 17th rated university in the country, you are nothing but a fool of ideological bent, no matter your assuredly, hard won degree.