What We’re Reading
In a new seasonal feature, QR writers and readers tell us what’s on their reading list for the summer. This time – MARIANO NAVARRO
There seems to be a lot of activity on this summer’s family calendar, so I am a little concerned that I may not be able to get through all the books I had selected for the next few months. Still, one must try.
The book that has me the most excited is Mark D. Popowski’s The Rise and Fall of “Triumph”: The History of a Radical Roman Catholic Magazine, 1966-1976 (Lexington Books). Triumph was an unabashedly ultra-traditionalist Catholic publication founded by L. Brent Bozell, Jr. (William F. Buckley’s brother-in-law). It attracted some of the best and brightest conservative writers from counter-culture America and across Europe, including M.E. Bradford, Christopher Dawson, Jeffrey Hart, Russell Kirk, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Thomas Molnar, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and Frederick Wilhelmsen. Popwski’s book looks well-researched and seems to be full of interesting anecdotes involving some great minds and legendary personalities.
Although I have not been able to keep up with his output, I have selected Roger Scruton’s The Face of God (Continuum) for summer reading. Based on his 2010 Gifford Lectures given at the University of St. Andrews, this book essentially examines the spread of atheism and its destructive impact on our culture and society. It can be seen, in part, as a response to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens; but it is actually an exercise in ‘philosophizing’ about God and the transcendent realm. Looks like another solid read from one of today’s finest philosophers.
Nearly 20 years after co-authoring The Bell Curve, Charles Murray continues to meticulously analyse socio-economic data — and continues to write provocative books about disturbing trends in American society. His Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (Crown Forum) looks at class structure among American whites, which he sees as increasingly stratified between a large dysfunctional underclass and a small, well-educated elite. The growing chasm between these groups, and the resulting erosion of the society that America once had, is what most worries Murray. After listening to his summary of the book delivered on February 6 at the American Enterprise Institute, I think Murray’s new book will really shake me up. Perhaps I’ll save it until the end of the summer.
One of the columnists I most enjoyed while living in Asia five years ago was “Spengler”, the pseudonym of a contributor to the on-line Asia Times. A few years ago, it was finally revealed that the man behind so many insightful articles about aesthetics and culture, mathematics and religion, was a financial analyst named David P. Goldman. In How Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying Too) (Regnery Publishing), Goldman focuses on the dire implications of the demographic implosion and religious trends facing the West.
Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels) is one of my favourite essayists. He is clear and precise, and has a wonderful style with which he makes very important points with great humour — and without the bombast one finds in so many other writers. His recent Litter: How Other People’s Rubbish Shapes Our Lives (Gibson Square), a slim volume that I hope to read over a summer weekend, examines a phenomenon that I have noticed even in rural parts of the United States and Europe: the abundance of plastic containers, fast food wrappers and other trash that people increasingly seem to be leaving on the side of our roads and highways. What’s going on? The author, a retired doctor and psychiatrist, may have some ideas.
I realize that nearly all of the books I have chosen for summer reading are non-fiction and have to do with generally depressing matters. Well, why buck this gloomy trend with my one literary pick? This collection of Stefan Zweig stories published in 2010 under the title of The Governess and Other Stories (Pushkin Press) includes four stories full of psychological conflict, obsession, heartbreak and, as always, general disillusionment with life. Austrian writer Zweig was a master of this genre. I have read nearly all of his stories that Pushkin has translated and made available for a new generation of readers. Zweig is highly, highly recommended.
MARIANO NAVARRO is the pen-name of an Austrian academic and writer