Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Browsing on Amazon

Yes, I know, it’s the evil empire. But I get a lot of gift cards for them from my very sweet clients, which I like, so here we go….

First, a book I've had on my list to buy for awhile:

The Glorious Deception : The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer" by Jim Steinmeyer.
I have kind of a thing about nineteenth century magicians. Sure, Houdini was cool, but where do you think he got the ideas for a lot of his tricks? He even named himself after a famous French illusionist, Jean Robert-Houdin. I also dig stuff about the “spirit mediums” of the time - fascinating examples of how people will overlook the most blatant fraud to believe what they want to be true.

Amazon thinks I'd like Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, and they're probably right. The publishers blurb: “Do you know what makes you happy? Daniel Gilbert would bet that you think you do, but you are most likely wrong. In his witty and engaging new book, Harvard professor Gilbert reveals his take on how our minds work, and how the limitations of our imaginations may be getting in the way of our ability to know what happiness is.” Well, I’m a pretty happy person overall, and I think I know why I’m happy, so it’ll be interesting to see if that lines up what Dr. Gilbert thinks is making me happy.

From this book, I clicked on another intriguing-looking title, The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car! by Tim Harford. Another pop-economics book, but it looks at least as interesting as Freakonomics, which I (mostly) enjoyed. Add it to the list.

From pop economics to pop psychology: The Psychology of Harry Potter : The Boy Who Lived by Neil Mulholland. Yep, I’m a fan. Mildly embarrassing but true. Plus I'm on this roll with popular culture analysis, so why stop now?

Speaking of culture – or the lack thereof- this looks worth reading: Choosing Civility : The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P. M. Forni I’m guessing (hoping!) I know them already, but hey, it’s not something one should leave to chance. Plus, as someone who's often admonishing people about bad manners, it might have some instructional concepts I could steal – I mean, be inspired by.

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