Overachieving, appeasing, humanity, and… fantasy.
Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever
By Walter Kirn
In Walter Kirn’s droll and incisive 2005 novel Mission to America, Mason LaVerle and Elias Stark are among the chosen to be sent off from Bluff, Montana’s Church of the Aboriginal Risen Apostles in a piece o’ crap company van donning Iowa sofa-salesman outfits to proselytize at shopping centers and malls. The sappy wanderers’ grand scheme encompasses everything from passing out leaflets in parking garages to people based on the condition of their cars and the type of bumper stickers, administering the “Well-being Test,” and ultimately grabbing, in the land of “emaciated elongated young women,” big-boned gals with child-bearing hips for the trip back home.
This New Ageish coasting to “stream on forever through the Etheric Flux, indestructible channels of vitality" is somewhat akin to the awareness that "percentile is destiny in America,” the attainment of which is laid out in Kirn’s witty memoir Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever. In an indictment of the higher education system, particularly of the elite universities, the author puts forward the theory that real learning takes place through experience. When he got to Princeton in the late 1970s, Kirn discovered an entire subculture based not on learning and acquiring knowledge but on networking, snobbery, social climbing, and recreational drug use. Parroting the instructor's critical theories was acceptable and actual reading of the books under consideration was optional. Moreover, in his own “Mission to Academia,” Kirn was able to climb so high not because of any innate gifts or knowledge – rather, he learned to play the game of scoring well on standardized tests, collecting extracurricular activities, and concentrating on class rankings.
Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom
By Bruce Bawer
"Multiculturalism," Bruce Bawer writes, regarding the new form of jihad to fear — one that threatens the very values on which our freedom rests — "means exalting non-Western groups, treating their collective values (however illiberal) as sacrosanct, and either choosing not to notice their lack of freedom or pretending there's no such thing as freedom…"
More particularly, argues Bawer in Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom, critics of radical Islam are being silenced by left-leaning academics, politicians and journalists. At the same time stringent agendas and political correctness has led politicians, intellectuals, religious leaders, and the media to appease radical Islam in the name of tolerance and multiculturalism and at the cost of our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Bawer illustrates his points with such examples as the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989, the widespread condemnation of the Danish cartoons and of the editors who printed them, accepting media coverage of the supposedly moderate Muslim icon Tariq Ramadan, and the international hubbub over a single sentence about Islam in a lecture by Pope Benedict. Although Surrender won’t be without its detractors, it promises to be a provocative and persuasive read.
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Revised)
By Dan Ariely
My Remarkable Journey
By Larry King
Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died
By Edward Klein
Edible History of Humanity
By Tom Standage
Seducing an Angel (Huxtable Series)
By Mary Balogh
Gone Tomorrow (Jack Reacher Series #13)
By Lee Child
By Raymond Khoury
Royal Blood (Vampire Kisses Series #6)
By Ellen Schreiber
The Secret Speech
By Tom Rob Smith