Recommended summer reading 2021

 

Christoph Köck

Susan Blackmore: Consciousness, A very short Introduction, Oxford University Press 2005

“This – I wouldn’t call ‘short’ – book, is a fine introduction to a subject that has been discussed for a very long time. Susan Blackmore herself has been a Zen meditator for many years and some of that flows into the book. If you are looking for some left brain stimulation on hot summer days, this will provide it. Readable, although maybe not always following through on the arguments, but definitely opening up some of the knotty questions around the subject.”/CK

 

Christina Feldman

Daughters of Emptiness, Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns, compiled by Beata Grant, Wisdom Publications 2003

“This is a book of extraordinary poems chronicling the timeless search of women on the path of awakening.” /CF

Wendy Garling: The Woman Who Raised the Buddha, the Extraordinary Life of Mahaprajapati, Shambala 2021

“A new book highlighting one of the most important women in the Buddhas life and her own story of deepening and awakening.” /CF

 

Jake Dartington

Sebene Selassie: You Belong: A Call for Connection, HarperOne 2020

“This book combines personal stories with theoretical insights to shed light on what is means to belong in today’s world.” /JD

 

Stephen Batchelor

“Rather than recommend books I have read recently, I would prefer to share the books I intend to read over the summer.”

“This summer I am looking forward to a number of books that I have been drawn to through reading reviews and hearing friends’ recommendations over the past months. First on my list are two books on Socrates: Bethany Hughes’ The Hemlock Cup, a biography of the philosopher that locates his life within the turbulent world of 5th century BCE Athens, and Amand d’Angour’s Socrates in Love, a study of the mysterious wise woman Diotima, whose teachings on love (eros) Socrates relates in Plato’s Symposium. Two novels I plan to read are Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri and Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. Somewhat harder going will be Carlo Rovelli’s new book Helgoland, which brings quantum theory together with the philosophy of Nagarjuna.” /SB

Bethany Hughes: The Hemlock Cup: Socrates, Athens, and the Search for the Good Life, Alfred a Knopf Inc 2011

Armand d’Angour: Socrates in Love: The Making of a Philosopher. London: Bloomsbury, 2019

Jhumpa Lahiri: Whereabouts, Knopf 2021

Kazuo Ishiguro: Klara and the Sun, Knopf 2021

Carlo Rovelli: Helgoland: The World of Quantum Theory, Riverhead books 2020

 

Jaya Rudgard

Jacques Lusseyran: And there was light; An Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II, New World Library 2014

David Hockney and Martin Gayford: Spring cannot be cancelled, Thames Hudson 2021

“I’ve been deeply moved re-reading Jacques Lusseyran’s ‘And there was light’and delighted by David Hockney and Martin Gayford’s ‘Spring cannot be cancelled’. After a year of screen-induced eye-strain, I’m looking forward to spending my summer online less, and probably reading less –  inspired by the insights of these wonderful observers, to looking and listening more attentively to things around me.” /JR

 

Martine Batchelor

Yaa Gyasi Transcendent kingdom, Knopf 2020

“Beautifully written about terrible things, the transatlantic slave trade and its consequences; a showing of humanity in all its aspects.” /MB

Stephen Graham Jones, Attack of the 50 foot Indian, Gallery/Saga Press 2020

“A short story with a delightful ending.” /MB

 

John Peacock

Elizabeth Minich: The Evil of Banality: On the Life and Death Importance of Thinking, Rowan & Littlefield 2017.

“This is a marvellous exploration and extension of Hannah Arendt’s concept of ‘The Banality of Evil.’ For anyone interested in the relationship between ethics, thinking and judgement this is a work I would highly recommend. Minnich argues that what we refer to as evil is a complicit ‘thoughtlessness’ that acquiesces to the status quo by individuals turning away from politics by simply concerning themselves with their own lives and projects. By this ‘turning away from’ a ‘creeping’ erosion of democracy and liberties occurs, that appears initially to not amount to much, with the result that we find ourselves with single party systems and authoritarian populist dictatorships and all the evils that such systems entail.”

“Minnich makes a plea for us to pay attention to what is occurring in our societies and to maintain a vigilance by ‘thinking’ through societal and environmental issues. It is a result of not thinking that opens the way to catastrophe, atrocities and the unethical in general. Self-concern turns away from thought, she contends, opting instead to follow the line of least resistance that allows for these things to happen.”

“This is only a thumbnail sketch of what is a fascinating and important book for anyone who cares to think about ethics.” /JP

 

Richard Sorabji: Self: Ancient and Modern Insights about Individuality, Life and Death, Oxford University Press 2010.

“This book embraces both Eastern (including some aspects of Buddhism) and Western thought on the topic of self and individuation. Sorabji’s book spans topics in early Greek thought and Nyaya (A school of Hindu thought) and Buddhist thought on consciousness, identity over time, Self and ethics, self awareness and mortality and the loss of self.”

“Parts of this work are historical and give us an overview of Greek, particularly Platonism, in its context, as well as giving us a deep sense of what it means to think through issues relating to self in the contemporary context. This is an important work for anyone who thinks that there is nothing more to be said about the self than the Buddhist doctrine of Not-Self.” /JP