Great Books by Men

Meanwhile, among the most interesting and intelligent stuff I've received this week are three new books by some guys who I'd immediately like to invite to join an imagined secret society with members like Joshua Glenn, Richard Nash, Emma Taylor, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Fooled by Randomness was labeled by Fortune magazine as "one of the smartest books of all time." But I wouldn't hold that against Taleb, who writes brilliantly on the way we attempt to impose logic or causality onto stuff that's coincidental or mere luck. It's more relevant and less unnecessarily provocative than Dawkins' God Delusion – and by avoiding religion (something I should have learned to do) manages to communicate more healing to its intended audience.

Mark Kingwell's Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City is the Canadian social theorist's most engaging read to date. Although ostensibly about the urban terrain, the book is less Mike Davis (City of Quartz) or even Jane Jacobs (Death and Life of Great American Cities) than it is like Robert Venturi's Learning from Las Vegas: Kingwell uses the physical city as a launching point for an extended meditation on the nature of local and non-local consciousness.

The Threat to Reason, by Dan Hind, is an entertaining and fast-paced book-length essay on the abuse of Enlightenment rhetoric and reasoning – by both ends of the political and social spectrum. Hind conducts an equally sharp deconstruction of the logic and language employed creationists/brights, right/left, globalists/environmentalists in an effort to liberate what worked about the Enlightenment from the way it has been worked over.