- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein became friends while pursuing degrees in philosophy. Cathcart worked with street gangs in Chicago and later became a hospital administrator, while Klein worked as a writer for television comedies and quiz shows. Their approach to this book was to sit with a stack of philosophy books and a stack of humor books and look for links between them. They present a philosophical point and follow it with jokes that illistrate the point. It is a fun way to jog your thinking. Here is an example:
What is fallacious is using respect for authority as the sole confirmation of your position, despite convincing evidence to the contrary.
Ted meets his friend Al and exclaims, "Al! I heard you were dead!"
"Hardly," says Al, laughing. "As you can see, I'm very much alive."
"Impossible," says Ted. "The man who told me is much more reliable than you."
If You Can Read This by Jack Bowen, starting with bumper sticker lines followed by commentary using references to biology, neuroscience, and psychology as well as technology, marketing, and pop culture, provides an accessible way to approach philosophy. The short sections and lively style make it a good bedside book. Jack said that his favorite bumper sticker is "Reading is Sexy"; he ends his commentary on it by saying: "Maintaining an active brain has been proven to ward off Alzheimer's disease - in the use it or lose it mentality of a muscle, reading is like a lively little weight room for the brain."
“The mind is the forerunner of all experience.”
For one deeply depressed, agoraphobic woman with the unusual name of Byron Katie, four simple questions (posed to her stressful thoughts) have made all the difference. They are:
She contends that these straightforward questions can transform your approach to almost any seemingly unworkable situation. The San José Public Library audio book, Your Inner Awakening (a 6-CD set) by Byron Katie allows you to sit in on her fascinating method of self-inquiry -- one that has subsequently benefited both her and many people throughout the world.
Take a page from Socrates and further your quest for self-knowledge with the library's wealth of audio books! Its easier than you think: all nonfiction titles can be requested and sent to any branch, simply with your library card and PIN.
With the holidays just behind us and an new year just begun, I’ve been reflecting on the ways this season can be so wonderful for some and so difficult for others. At a time when many try to focus on family, love and goodwill to man – the absence of the same can be especially painful. And the very nature of “joy” which should be such a simple thing can be elusive.
In response to these thoughts I’ve been reminded of a book recommended some years ago by someone very special to me. A man with a philosopher’s mind and a special talent for experiencing happiness every day – in both good and bad times.
The book is A Guide to The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.
And yes, as the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the teachings of the ancient stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelias and Epictetus and how the stoic lifestyle can lead to a good – perhaps even great – life. Of course today when you think of someone being stoic, you might imagine a humorless, dour person without emotion, but the real stoics of the past were far from this. In fact, what the stoics actually believed and tried to practice in their daily lives included ideas such as – there is nothing wrong with enjoying the good things in life (including luxuries) so long as we are able to give them up without regret if our circumstances should change – and how to achieve this “goal” if you will, through practical techniques such as negative visualization, which is to practice visualizing how your current life could be worse. This also helps us to learn to appreciate what we already have today. There are many other ideas and practical techniques put forth by this insightful book that could change the way you live your life or at least some of your attitudes about control, duty, social relations, grief, anger, and more.
Robert Balmanno’s, September Snow, is first in a series of four books that are either published or in the process of being written. It is a post-apocalyptic view of a dystopian society not dissimilar to George Orwell’s literary style in his acclaimed, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Global warming and climate change have been inescapable for decades. Gaia, a new religion, over time becomes corrupted. Action packed from the very beginning, Tom, the protagonist, is attempting to rectify some of the long-term damage the government has invoked on the planet. Like two stars colliding, he eventually stumbles upon September, or, rather she “stumbles” upon him. There is even a glimpse of the nascent romance about half way into the novel!
The author asks several socio-political, environmental, and philosophical questions that leave the reader with a greater appreciation for our responsibility in respecting and caring for our planet. On a deeper level the author raises the question many well-known philosophers over time have asked: “what is truth?”
The most recent book in The Blessings of Gaia series, Runes of Iona, was published and released to Gaia fans only a few months ago. Each book in Balmanno’s quartet stands on its own and can be read in reverse order or independently of the other.