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Rabbi Schwartz's Summer 2019 Reading List

How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan – With the recent popularity of meditation and yoga as spiritual pursuits, Pollan explores an alternative, once frowned upon, method of opening the mind, staying present, and finding meaning – hallucinogenics.  A blend of travelogue, scientific research, medical history, and memoir, the author ponders one of the oldest and most significant human questions:  How can we find meaning in our lives? (460 pages)
The Uninhabitable Earth (Life After Warming) by David Wallace-Wells – Concern about the devastating effects of climate change has grown exponentially in recent years.  Relying on the latest scientific evidence, David Wallace-Wells imagines the challenges that will confront humanity if climate change continues unchecked.  He also offers hope that time is still left to make changes in our behavior and environmental policies before it is too late.  (300 pages)
Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton – In the information overload age, there is precious little time to ponder, reflect, and just think.  Merton, a Trappist monk and mystic, argues in this slim volume that moments of quiet reflection are necessary for personal health and growth, and also for the cultivation of a society of tolerance and respect for all.  (130 pages)
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James – In a vividly imagined Africa filled with superhuman creatures and supernatural forces the Jamaican writer Marlon James uses the mystery of a missing boy to weave layered stories of survival and quest.  Filled with pop-culture references, the book draws on the hero myth structure identified by Joseph Campbell to propel its protagonist, Tracker, through a violent, dangerous, and mysterious world. (NOTE: the book contains many violent passages! I'd give it a PG-13 rating! 420 pages)
These Truths by Jill Lepore – The Harvard historian has written a brilliant one-volume history of the United States.  As is so often the case, the more we know about the past, the better we understand the present.  Beautifully written, Lepore shines a light on some of our most significant people and most important moments but also reminds us of how often we fall short of the ideals that define our nation.  Every American should read this book. (800 pages)
Thu, July 2 2020 10 Tammuz 5780