The Thursday Three #35

1. Thomas Sowell, the renowned economist and conservative thinker, has retired from column writing.* He also turned 87 not too long ago, as did Harold Bloom,** who is one of the greatest literary critics of all time. As the years pass, I keep wondering who will replace these brilliant minds.

Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you. —Harold Bloom

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. —Thomas Sowell

2. Three songs I’m obsessed with: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” because I was daydreaming and came up with an awesome idea for a music video for it, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” because all of a sudden the radio started playing it a lot and I don’t think I had ever heard it before, and Julia Michaels’s “Issues” because it describes a nice mix of dysfunction and commitment.

3. Here’s a picture of a double rainbow (although you can barely see the outer one). Trust me… there were two.

*I highly recommend Sowell’s The Vision of the Anointed (1995).

**I highly recommend Bloom’s How to Read and Why (2000).

Quotes Challenge #1

I have been tagged to complete the quotes challenge! Thank you to At Milliways with a Pen for tagging me. So the rules are as follows:

  • Post on three consecutive days.
  • Post one to three quotes per day.
  • Challenge three different bloggers each day.

I can tell you right now that I’m going to break the first rule because I don’t post on consecutive days, but anyway, I’ll complete the challenge here and in my next two posts. Here’s my first quote:

Intellect is not wisdom.

—Thomas Sowell, American economist

Short and sweet, but it says so much. They often say that children have wisdom. They know what truly matters in life: family, fun, love, excitement, seeing old things in new ways. They have yet to get bogged down in taxes, work, the fear of death, and all the other mundane stuff that comes with adulthood. But you can’t call a child an intellectual. Yes, there is the occasional child prodigy, but here I’m talking about your average child.

There’s also the kind of wisdom that comes with experience (not necessarily age). These kind of wise people may not have gone to college, they may have only worked in blue-collar jobs, and they may not have traveled outside of their home state. But they know what life is all about. They’ve been there and done it, and they tend to get passed over and looked down on because they can’t speak and write as coherently as everyone else.

But intellect is another beast. The first thing I thought of when I saw the word “intellect” was the stereotypical college professor, with a PhD in some obscure branch of the humanities, holed up in his ivory tower, writing the next great tome that would be incomprehensible to the average reader. This guy’s chock-full of intellect, but he might not have a shred of wisdom. He gained all his learning from books and none from the real world. People tend to believe and agree with what they hear from this person because he’s gone to school and he knows a lot of facts, but wisdom is using those facts with prudence and common sense. Intellect might involve so many convolutions of logic that the humanity gets lost.

However, it is possible to have both intellect and wisdom, but those people are rare. (I also checked Google, which lists wisdom as a synonym for intellect, but when I checked my hard copy thesaurus, the two were not listed as synonyms for each other. Strange.)

My three nominees for today are…

If you don’t want to participate in the challenge, you certainly don’t have to. Or if you want to pass your nomination to someone else, that’s OK, too.

10 Best Books I Read In 2013

I can’t do a “10 Best Books of 2013” post because I rarely read books as soon as they are released. But I did read 60-something books total this year, so these are the ones I liked best (in no particular order):

1. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand. A friend from college recommended this book to me, and I just now got around to reading it this year. I don’t quite know how I feel about Rand’s Objectivist philosophies yet. But Rand does a good job of not beating you over the head with philosophy but allowing you to get involved in the storyline and the characters’ lives.

2. Animal Farm – George Orwell. Another book I should probably have read a long time ago. Fascinating thoughts about rebelling against the status quo, then eventually turning back to the status quo you rebelled against.

3. The Vision of the Anointed – Thomas Sowell. I wrote about this book in this post. I agreed with probably 90% of the philosophies in the book, and I want to read more from this author in the coming year.

4. Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Marisha Pessl. This book could have been classified in the New Adult genre, had the genre existed back when it was published. Unlike other books with teenage/young adult protagonists, Special Topics did not sacrifice character for the sake of plot.

5. An Almost Perfect Moment – Binnie Kirshenbaum. I sympathized with a few of the characters so well it was almost scary. A unique take on religion and loneliness, and another book that probably could have been classified as New Adult.

6. The Secret History – Donna Tartt. The only reason I read this book was because #4 on this list was said to have been directly based on it. I can’t say for sure which book is better, but I liked Tartt’s book for the same reasons I liked Pessl’s.

7. 11/22/63 – Stephen King. I wrote about it in this post. This book is the reason why I like reading pretty much anything by King. Yeah, it falls flat in a few places, but overall, it was excellent.

8. Rant – Chuck Palahniuk. A book that taught me to think outside the box. Sometime in the next year, I plan to either watch or read Fight Club, since Rant is supposedly quite similar.

9. A Separate Peace – John Knowles. It’s one of those books that doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot. It’s more of a character-driven experience that teaches a good lesson.

10. Anthem – Ayn Rand. The book (novella) describes a dystopian world in which there is no such thing as the concept of “I” — everything is about the collective, the common good. Scary prospect.

Have you read any of these? Which is the best book you’ve read in 2013?