At the end of semesters, when teaching college courses in political science, I would submit a booklist, which was in no way a requirement, but instead suggestions that students might find interesting. Since my email at QL is often from students, here are some very good books that are new and exciting:
_In Defense of Food_, by Michael Pollan
You may have seen me reference Pollan in this column. I reach him when I write about food and nutrition issues. Pollan explains how we are in a culture of nutritionism, and that we have gotten stuck in a cycle of eating processed foods, which are not only bad for us, but bad for the environment. It is not a long, dull academic read, however. Pollan explains our relationship to food in a very simple way. How we eat is directly connected to how we farm, and how we use energy.
_The Outliers: The Story of Success_, Malcom Gladwell
Gladwell writes about understanding certain types of phenomenon. He explains in Outliers why some people are successful and why some are not. To Gladwell, genetics are not the main reason for certain extraordinary success. He explains that there is a 10,000 hour rule. The Beatles played 1,200 live concerts before hitting it big (which amounted to 10,000 hours) and Bill Gates logged in an estimated 10,000 hours on a high school computer in which he was lucky to have access. To Gladwell, success stories, such as Asian students having a tendency to be proficient at math, might be a combination of hard work, cultural legacy, and luck. Gladwell has written for the New Yorker, The Washington Post, and logged in ten years at The American Spectator – talk about 10,000 hours.
_The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination_, Gary Ecelbarger
If you’re in need of a pick-me-up this year, this is it. Lincoln was in the lowest of political places at one time, even having trouble in his own party. I’ll try not to spoil the ending, but he winds up doing okay for himself.