Summer Reading (and Misreading)

Sunday, September 1, 2019
First Aired: 
Sunday, July 7, 2019

What Is It

What should you be reading this summer—and how should you be reading it? We’re often told that fiction offers us entertainment, moral examples, and lessons about life. But are we getting too quick to dismiss complicated fiction—the kind that doesn’t have straightforward heroes and happy endings? Josh and Ken talk to writers and philosophers about reading and misreading for your summer pleasure.

  • Maryanne Wolf from UCLA on the neuroscience of (mis)reading
  • Thomas Pavel from the University of Chicago on the role of genre in (mis)reading
  • Antonia Peacocke from Stanford University on "reader's block" and other reading mishaps



Ken Taylor  
Welcome to Philosophy Talk, the program that questions everything...

Josh Landy  
...except your intelligence. I'm Josh Landy.

Ken Taylor  
And I'm Ken Taylor. We're here at the studios of KALW San Francisco.

Comments (6)

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, June 29, 2019 -- 11:18 AM

Here are two for the summer

Here are two for the summer reading shelf...

Beyond Concepts - by Ruth Garrett Millikan - Concepts are fundamental to philosophy. Millikan looks under the hood, suggest some new terms, looks at natural information... I really enjoyed this book ... but it might take more than a summer for an untrained reader to finish. It took me over a year.... paperback soon but e-book out for under $20.

Consider Phlebas - by Iain M. Banks - readily available in the cheap used format. With an Amazon studios TV series in the works, it is time to lock down your mental imagery of this Science Fiction classic. This is the first of the Culture series that attacks AI and humanity. This book might be a poster child for genre misread, complicated fiction and really great summer reading.

Todd's picture


Thursday, July 4, 2019 -- 7:09 AM

1. All Art is Propaganda:

1. All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays of George Orwell

Although I am familiar with Orwell's 1984, Animal Farm, "Politics and the English Language", I have never read his less popularized works. This compilation by George Packer is an excellent place to start. I never realized how broad Orwell's (Blair's) essays reach. From Dickins to Gandhi, he covers quite a bit of territory in this abridged anthology. He is very much the "public intellectual" and displays an amazing ability to write well through his clarity of arguments and wit.

2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

A friend recommended this novel in the spring, and I hope to finish it before school begins in the fall. It is rather long at just under 1000 pages but sustains a level of intensity common for shorter works. Briefly, it is a love story that transcends parallel universes, an insight into the nature of solitude, cult fanaticism, novel writing, rape, assassination, and family devotion. A marvelous weave of masterful subplots worth diving into and disappearing for a couple of hours a day. It is my summer camp for the mind.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 -- 12:31 AM

Todd, I read 1Q84 on your

Todd, I read 1Q84 on your recommendation. Thanks for pointing this out. It was a good read if a long one. I'm not sure about the sexual politic here or the cultural import. I will say this was my first Murakami and not my last. Thanks again. Best

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, July 8, 2019 -- 9:03 AM

I read a little book a few

I read a little book a few years ago. It discussed what the author called essentialism, i.e., figuring out what is and is not important to one's life and everyday affairs. I do not recall the young writer's name, but am fairly sure he could be found through the wonders of Google. The book did help me decide upon some things which were (I decided) peripheral to my life. Such matters are more important than we may first recognize. Why? because there is a lot of junk vying for our attention---more and more of such junk all the time. Finding pragmatism only cemented my notions about all of this. Essentialism is, after all, a statement about the useful vs. the not-so-much. Check out this book, if you are tired of clutter

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, August 30, 2019 -- 11:26 AM

In keeping with a desire to

In keeping with a desire to absorb as much as I am able on philosophy, I plan to review some of Wilfrid Sellars work. Among those will be EMPIRICISM AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND. Have read some others' comments on Sellars, many complimentary, and felt I should see for myself.

miachi's picture


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