What is this?

  • Thoughts Happen. A lot. A few slip into an eddy in the stream of consciousness where they swirl around for a bit, allowing us to observe them with a kind and curious eye, and with luck a bit of humor, before they make their way downstream again. A very few we fish out and choose to act upon, and those are the ones that create our reality. Thoughts Happen is my little spot on the stream bank.

Thought- Provoking

  • Scott Carrier: Running After Antelope

    Scott Carrier: Running After Antelope
    Scott Carrier runs after antelope. This is not metaphoric. Bolstered by evidence from his scientist brother, he becomes obsessed at an early age with the idea that prehistoric man used to hunt antelope by running them down. This book of essays intersperses quixotic stories of his lifelong quest to prove to himself that it can be done along with pieces from his days scraping together a living as an independent journalist and later a regular contributor to This American Life, and Esquire. Carrier brings a stranger-in-a-strange-land sensibility to pieces from Cambodia, Kashmir and Chiapas as well as Kansas City and Utah, bringing the everyday absurd to light no matter where he lands. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Steven Galloway: The Cellist of Sarajevo

    Steven Galloway: The Cellist of Sarajevo
    How do you retain your humanity while civilization crumbles around you, when your city is surrounded by snipers in the hills, picking off your neighbors left and right, seemingly at random, when shells destroy infrastructure and life is suddenly a daily struggle for the basics of food, water and shelter? When there is no way out of the crucible, you are stripped to the core. Galloway follows four characters during a short segment of the nearly 4-year siege of Sarajevo in the mid-'90s to uncover basic human compassion, fear and bravery among ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances. Powerful. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Infidel

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Infidel
    Ayaan HIrsi Ali’s life, as depicted in her stunning memoir, is cleaved clearly, if not neatly, into two halves. “Infidel”’s first half describes growing up inquisitive, female and Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The second half documents her flight to Holland in the early ‘90s to escape an arranged marriage, and subsequent questioning of her faith as she is exposed to Western society and thought. Through education and perseverance she eventually rises to a position in Dutch parliament, attracting violent opposition for her outspoken views on Muslim immigration and cultural integration. Ali challenges conventional thinking in both religious and secular arenas, and does so with a clear voice strong in her convictions. A riveting read. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Beryl Markham: West with the Night

    Beryl Markham: West with the Night
    As a child, Beryl Markham would sneak off her father’s farm to hunt boar with the Masai. By the time she was 18 she lived on her own as the first licensed female horse trainer in Kenya. In her twenties she learned to fly and became the first professional woman pilot in Africa. Her memoir of life in the first third of the 20th century bristles with pithy observations of an Africa that is both wild and innocent, populated by characters both brash and noble. It will make you yearn for a life unfettered by possessions where the measure of a woman, man or beast is in absolute loyalty, to each other, to craft, and the endeavor at hand. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Barbara Ehrenreich: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

    Barbara Ehrenreich: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
    Read this book. If you’ve ever slogged your way through an endless shift making next to nothing, or, more to the point, if you haven’t, you will be fascinated by Ehrenreich’s three-months-in-three-cities-making-$6-and-$7-an-hour experiment to see if an unskilled single person can make ends meet as a low-wage earner. I’ll confess that I bought this book years ago and only just now read it. I expected it to be Important and Worth Reading, but what I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy it. Ehrenreich treats her subject with the gravity it deserves, yet writes with sandpaper-dry humor in a deadpan style that perfectly captures the absurdities she and her fellow low-wage earners are forced into as they try to play by the rules while earning only a fraction of the deck. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Michael Gates Gill: How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else

    Michael Gates Gill: How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else
    Michael Gates Gill was 64 years old, divorced from the wife of his four children and not married to the mother of his fifth, a laid-off ad executive with a dwindling client list wondering if he would be able to make rent the next month. Fate brought him to a Starbucks on the day of a job fair and on impulse he applied for a job. The book chronicles his first year working as a “regular joe,” and the everyday triumphs and struggles that came with it. Plenty of flashbacks (and name-dropping—but he’s got them to drop) fill in the backstory of his former life and childhood. Gill’s gratitude for the co-workers and customers at Starbucks who gave him a second chance comes through in his vivid characterizations and observations. Submitted by Louise Julig

  • Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: The Story of Success

    Malcolm Gladwell: Outliers: The Story of Success
    Malcolm Gladwell presents a fascinating and provocative blueprint for making the most of human potential. He takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"—the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. His newest book, Outliers poses the question: what makes high achievers different from the rest of us? Gladwell's answer—that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from—may surprise you. The author says that their culture, their family, their generation and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing play powerful roles in success. His book explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band. Submitted by Claire Yezbak Fadden

  • John U. Bacon: Cirque du Soleil: The Spark - Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within Us All

    John U. Bacon: Cirque du Soleil: The Spark - Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within Us All
    Frank followed the nondescript men through the white door, unmarked and forgettable on the overactive casino floor. On the other side he found KÀ—a permanent Cirque du Soleil performance in Las Vegas—and the opportunity to redefine himself and his career. "Cirque du Soleil: The Spark—Igniting the Creative Fire That Lives Within Us All" is a whirlwind tour of the shows, people, costumes, make-up and magic of this modern-day circus while reminding Frank—and the reader—how fundamentally important creativity is in all aspects of our lives. As Frank journeys through his personal transformation from uninterested to invigorated, readers are reminded that a few small things can go a long way in reigniting the creative fire that smolders in us all. Submitted by JoAnna Haugen

  • Thich Nhat Hanh: Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha

    Thich Nhat Hanh: Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha
    Thich Nhat Hahn traces the life of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha after his enlightenment, from birth to death. More than a strict biography, it also relates the teachings of the Buddha as they unfold naturally throughout his life. These are told in very straightforward language without proselytizing, following the principle “Every person should be a lamp unto himself.” There is a great deal of repetitiveness in the story, which can irritate, but think of it as a mantra and it becomes calming. Though lengthy, the book reads quickly due to the simple yet elegant writing, and is recommended to anyone with an interest in Eastern religion or philosophy. Submitted by Louise Julig

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February 27, 2009

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