Sunday, May 01, 2005

What I'm reading now...

I'm actually reading four different books right now - each in a different part of the house or my routine. I don't think there's any common thread between the three of them, other than because I'm reading them concurrently, it's taking much longer than if i read them sequentially...

  1. HaEzrach Y (Citizen Y.) - I just bought this one over Pesach. It's a cute little book, in Hebrew, where the author pretends to be an older man, writing to all sorts of government ministries, companies, and other institutions with crazy questions. He writes very politely, and they write back. Many (if not all) of the letters are on this website. Great for laughs.
  2. Chaim Weizmann: A Biography, by Norman Rose. - We got this years ago at a garage sale in Boston. It's a rather long book, and I've tried at times to start reading it, only to give up in the beginning. But for the past several weeks I've been reading it again, and it is interesting. I've only read up until the early 1930's, but the book paints a picture of a real visionary, with true leadership. We often look at the state as a part of an inevitable process, but without the efforts of people like Weizmann, I can't see how the state would have come into being. An interesting aspect of the book for me is how Weizmann put so much effort into effective political and diplomatic relations with the British government. My cousin Amichai Paglin was the military leader of the Etzel, and fought strongly against the British. A couple of years ago I finished reading the story of his efforts. I had pride for what he accomplished, anger toward the British, and felt that Weizmann didn't act strongly enough against them. Again, I've only read the Weizmann biography up until the early 30's, but I'm beginning to see that perhaps the issues were more complicated than I previously thought. Perhaps after I finish reading the book, I'll post my "final" conclusions.
  3. Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn - In a previous post I discussed how I felt my father's educational philosophy jives with my religious approach. This book operates on similar lines, and expands the danger of rewards, and the value of intrinsic motivation into the realms of the workplace and childraising, as well as school. The book is full of ideas that are obvious once read, and are hard to believe that you didn't see them before.
  4. Mishnayot Masechet Maaser Sheni - For nearly a year, I've been walking around with a pocket Kehati mishnayot in my... pocket. I often only read a mishna or two a day, but there is satisfaction in starting, and hopefully someday finishing, a project like this. I also get a fascinating insight into life in the times of the Tanaim. How debate and discussion was valued (didn't see anything about Daat Torah there), and how much they really liked cakes made from figs.