Ryan McCarl

Reading, writing, learning, languages, law, politics, etc.

Recommended books and media

Here is a list of the books and media I’ve read over the years that I have either (a) enjoyed the most or (b) learned the most from. Within each category, authors are listed alphabetically. Where more than one book is listed for an author, I’ve listed the books in order of preference. Fiction/Literature/Literary Nonfiction: Dante Alighieri, Inferno Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine; Fahrenheit 451Willa Cather, O Pioneers!; My Antonia Albert Camus, The Stranger Read more →

Readings from the stories of John Cheever

It was after four then, and I lay in the dark, listening to the rain and to the morning trains coming through. They come from Buffalo and Chicago and the Far West, through Albany and down along the river in the early morning, and at one time or another I’ve traveled on most of them, and I lay in the dark thinking about the polar air in the Pullman cars and the smell of nightclothes and the taste of dining-car water and the way it feels to end a day in Cleveland or Chicago and begin another in New York, particularly after you’ve been away for a couple of years, and particularly in the summer. Read more →

Readings from Charles Taylor and Erich Auerbach

One way to put the question I want to answer here is this: why was it virtually impossible not to believe in God in, say, 1500 in our Western society, while in 2000 many of us find this not only easy, but even inescapable? … Important as science is to our present outlook, we mustn’t exaggerate its causal role here, and make it the main motor of the transformation. Our encasing in secular time is also something we have brought about in the way we live and order our lives. Read more →

A vacation and a reading list: a personal update

It’s hard to believe how quickly things happen. My summer term - roughly six hours a day, five days a week of education classes - is drawing to a close, and as of Friday afternoon I’ll be free for an entire month (the life of a student is good - certainly beats two or three weeks of vacation over the course of a year). I’ll be in Colorado (Boulder, Telluride, Denver) for almost two weeks, in Chicago for one, and in Muskegon for one - as well as a few days of camping in Northern Michigan with friends. Read more →

Should we finish the books we begin? It depends.

In an article published in Friday’s Washington Times, economist Tyler Cowen makes several interesting and provocative arguments about reading and books. 1. “What should you do when, 20, 50 or 100 pages in, you realize you just don’t like a book?” Cowen says: “Give up.” 2. “We should treat books a little more like we treat TV channels,” (Cowen) argues. No one has trouble flipping away from a boring series.” Read more →