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The Birth of Intersubjectivity: Psychodynamics, Neurobiology, and the Self (The Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
The Birth of Intersubjectivity: Psychodynamics, Neurobiology, and the Self (The Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)
Price: $22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars not nearly as abstruse as it sounds, January 4, 2015
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Speaking as one who has no particular training in any of the disciplines from which this book draws (neurobiology, psychoanalysis, attachment theory, and developmental psychology) but who is interested in how intersubjectivity becomes a felt reality for actual individuals, I found this book to be accessible as well as fascinating and deeply informative. There is some scientific detail that the average lay reader might find tedious, but that is easily skimmed over. There is plenty in this book that will be relevant to anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of society, culture, interpersonal dynamics, family systems, parenting, or communication theory.

Twelve Step Meditations for Atheists
Twelve Step Meditations for Atheists
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy contribution to a sparse genre, January 1, 2015
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The title is a little misleading. This book is actually more of an introduction and a guidebook than a meditation book. Even though the meditations take up more than half of the book, what is most significant and helpful is the refreshingly personal and practical insights into how to navigate a terrain that can be treacherous for atheists who suffer from some sort of addiction.

And it's not just for atheists. It will be useful to anyone who wants a no-nonsense take on twelve step recovery. As anyone who has experience with any of the recovery fellowships inspired by AA knows, "the message" is often shrouded in jargon and mystification. This book is a valuable complement to the many available resources, most of which inhabit a fairly narrow spectrum of perspectives.

The author is passionate in a good way and comes across as eminently credible. It's clear that what she shares has come out of her own experience in the trenches. It rings with the kind of authenticity that suggests that she practices what she preaches.

Of especial benefit is the discussion of the brain science related to addiction, which is a crucial, but neglected, aspect of secular recovery. She's not an expert on the subject, but she provides vital information that an average layperson can understand.

Some readers might find that the kindle version limits their ability to fully utilize the book, as they might want to skip around when they get to the meditations (or go to the meditations before they have finished reading the first part of the book) rather than just going straight through the book.

Common Sense Recovery: An Atheist's Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous
Common Sense Recovery: An Atheist's Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I loved the first section of the book, November 23, 2014
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I loved the first section of the book, the part where the writer tells the story of his addiction, recovery, relapse, and return to recovery. The writing there was fresh, authentic, and interesting. Most of the book though is just another person's flat and unimaginative opinion about recovery. God is removed, but there is nothing really added to fill the void.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2015 8:30 AM PST

Under the Suns
Under the Suns
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars so much to like, October 19, 2014
This review is from: Under the Suns (Kindle Edition)
Don’t be put off by the occasional rough edge here and there. This is an impressive first novel by a very gifted writer. If you are looking for a book that is enjoyable to read, you won’t be disappointed. It is full of rich humor, and the writer’s voice is fresh, engaging, and wonderfully quirky.

The book represents a rich cross-pollination of genres – on the surface a science fiction novel, but at its heart, an inspired satire and an ingenious parable for our age, pregnant with meaning without being preachy. The centerpiece of its rich and complex world is a darkly Orwellian totalitarian theocracy, but the ominous portent is tempered by light-hearted humor, affectionate rendering of the very human nonhuman characters, and an overarching sense of optimism.

What most stands out are the descriptions, which are dazzlingly detailed, vivid, poetic, and skillful – interesting because of what they strategically leave out as much as what they disclose. What we get are alluring glimpses of an entire bizarre universe. The setting isn’t allowed to be intrusive or overwhelming in its detail. It stays in the background – introduced in a timely manner, seamlessly woven into the narrative, advancing rather than impeding the action.

The characters are well developed, three-dimensional, likable, and readily identified with. The plot is interesting in its conflicts and satisfying in their resolution. There is enough action to satisfy a restless teenager and enough irreverent humor to penetrate the shell of a serious cynic.

The many unpredictable twists and surprising revelations kept me on the edge of my seat and willingly in the palm of the author’s hand, allowing myself to be enveloped in an intricately worked out parallel universe that didn’t demand that I struggle to figure it out but that just carried me along in a smooth narrative flow.

The religiously literate will find the blatant mocking of sacred cows either outrageously offensive or immensely enjoyable.

The book is characterized by excess. It is overflowing with giddy displays of the author’s intellectual and emotional breadth. That is its strength, but sometimes it becomes a weakness. It is at times over the top.

The spell created by a mostly successful suspension of disbelief is occasionally lost. And some of the religious references might be slightly obscure to the average reader. I don’t think though that enjoying what’s there depends on getting all the pokes at religion.

I discovered the book almost accidentally and began reading it out of curiosity, mainly because I heard it drew from the author’s experiences of being deeply involved with and then leaving Christianity, a path that parallels my own experience, but I found so much more to like about the book.

I hope its author continues writing because I look forward to the hopeful prospect of reading another exciting novel by him soon.

Deadly Fear
Deadly Fear
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars a crossover that doesn't work, November 7, 2013
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This review is from: Deadly Fear (Kindle Edition)
Actually, I give it two and a half stars -- somewhere between "I don't like it" and "It's OK." To say I don't like it raises the question of why I read it all the way to the end. So I liked it well enough to finish it, even though there were several serious flaws that I found terribly annoying. The main thing I didn't like about it is how much the romantic plot clutters up the mystery plot. Perhaps I should have paid more attention before I squandered my ninety-nine cents on the kindle book.

But even if I hadn't minded the genre crossover, I would still have had some problems with the book. Not only is the romantic plot intrusive and formulaic, it is graphically sexual. I'm not offended by that; I just found it neither interesting nor necessary. While there is a sense in which Monica's character development relied on the exposure of her intense sensuality, a more economical and strategic handling of her sexual life would surely have worked better. As it was, the struggle between her sensual and her highly controlled selves felt facile and unbelievable because the contrast was so black and white. The intense sexuality got switched on far too readily and too early in the development of her character. All the sex scenes beyond the first sex scene were anticlimactic.

Another thing I didn't like about the book was that the villain's almost supernatural omniscience, omnipresence, and invisibility were not adequately accounted for. I don't mind a little suspension of disbelief, but placing the antagonist so much behind a veil of mystery left a big hole in the plot and turned one of the main characters into a hollow shell.

Along similar lines, there were a lot of coincidences that were never accounted for. For example, there were a lot of details that made one of the characters into the prime suspect, but the amazing coincidences that those details represented were never explained. And the coincidence that established the connection between the antagonist and his criminal mentor was unbelievable. The mystery genre almost always includes unlikely coincidences, but they have to at least be accounted for rather than just being left out there as loose ends.

Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior
Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior
by Christopher Boehm
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.00
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9 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars buyer beware, June 27, 2011
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This book is not without significant merit in its discusion of egalitarian politics. Unfortunately, Boehm goes way out on a limb in his central argument.

Boehm is an intelligent and thoughtful observer of political and social realities, but he is a cultural anthropologist, not a political scientist, not a game theorist, not a primatologist, not even a biological anthropologist. The main argument he is making is a slippery departure from his own field.

Boehm would do well to stick to what he knows. He is an excellent ethnographer. His published writings on the Serbian tribes of Montenegro represent a significant and solid contribution to cultural anthropology scholarship.

In "Hierarchy of the Forest," Boehm's argument relies on disciplines about which he lacks sufficient expertise to come down as strongly as he does. His argument may be attractive to those of us who have an interest in building egalitarianism in political, social, and cultural practices, but it is best to avoid the trap that Boehm has fallen into, being seduced by an attractive hypothesis and sacrificing rigor.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2014 9:47 AM PDT

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