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Review: Jillian Medoff’s “This Could Hurt”

Jillian Medoff’s This Could Hurt is a fun and heartfelt fictionalization of contemporary corporate life. The book explores the lives of a small group of executives who run the Human Resources Department at Ellery Consumer Research, a firm struggling to keep itself together in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While I did not find the [...]

Review: Thomas Nagel’s “Mortal Questions”

The title of Thomas Nagel’s Mortal Questions may appear to promise a set of inquiries with reachable termination points, but in fact the opposite is true. This collection of short essays explores a slew of multifaceted and often-insouble problems surrounding the nature of human society and experiential life that Nagel pondered during the 1970s. Nagel is nobly [...]

Review: Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World has long been one of my very favorite works of speculative fiction, so when I heard this exceptional debate from Intelligence Squared toward the end of last year, I couldn’t resist returning once again to the land of soma orgies, hypnopaedic conditioning, and Centrifugal Bumble-puppy. Almost a century after its original publication, this captivating novel still [...]

Review: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Christian B. Miller’s “Moral Psychology, Volume 5″

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong’s Moral Psychology series represents the the sole source of truly academic writing that I’ve managed to keep up with since college. When I was contemplating applying to graduate school back in 2012, the field of moral psychology was my target niche, so reading these books over the years has been a way of catching up with [...]

My Year of Bookish Wisdom: 2017

Introduction: A Portent of Chaos Those who know me well understand that my vision of humanity’s possible futures runs the gamut from wildly optimistic to oppressively grim. My cynical tendencies are received from my father, a man many have called “Eeyore“ after the droopy donkey that doled out gloomy auguries to the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre [...]

Review: George Orwell’s “1984″

George Orwell’s 1984 is one of those books about which it is probably impossible to say anything new or interesting. Much like its protagonist’s tortured mind and body, Orwell’s masterpiece has been prodded, cut open, and drained of its juices by many minds that surpass my own. My intention for this review, then, is just to leave [...]

Review: Lauren Groff’s “Arcadia”

For the first hundred pages or so, Lauren Groff’s Arcadia fooled me into thinking it was something less than a spectacular novel. It begins on an eponymous commune in western New York State during the 1970s, hitting all the tiresome notes one expects from a narrative about people trying to “beat the system” with hard work and [...]

Review: Philip Pullman’s “La Belle Sauvage”

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a unique and rightly-cherished accomplishment of narrative imagination. Given my deep fondness and respect for that work, I was both excited and nervous to hear that Pullman was returning to that world for a second trilogy. It can be dangerous to mess with a good thing, but more of a good [...]

Review: Robert M. Sapolsky’s “Behave”

Books that examine the relationship between science and morality have become ubiquitous, so readers interested in these important subjects need to choose carefully. It is not an overstatement to say that one could do no better than to alight on Robert M. Sapolsky’s Behave. This engrossing, encyclopedic examination of the causal mechanisms that determine human behavior is [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend”

I often hear readers of contemporary literature speak of Elena Ferrante in hushed, reverential tones, so I’ve been curious for a while now to see what all the fuss is about. The brilliance of My Brilliant Friend was so subtle and supple that it almost escaped my notice, but in the end I came around, and can [...]