Aristotle defends persuasion and poetry

The Rhetoric & The Poetics of AristotleThe Rhetoric & The Poetics of Aristotle by Aristotle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since I decided to incorporate rhetorical analysis in the courses that I teach, I figured that I needed to read the classic work on rhetoric. I picked up this edition a number of years ago at a rummage sale, and it had the Poetics as well. Reading these works and the introductory material helped me to see how integrated Aristotle’s ideas were across his works, since the Rhetoric related not only to the the Poetics but to his works on logic, ethics, and politics as well (I have not read these). The introductory material also pointed out Aristotle’s differences with his teacher Plato on rhetoric and imitative poetry.

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Over the summer, I have been and plan to read more about the discipline of rhetoric, and I hope to post my course materials on my blog toward the end of the summer.

Reflections on reading

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of DistractionThe Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Quite an enjoyable book. Jacobs is a gifted writer, and he explores a variety of topics related to reading with clarity and surprising depth for a short book. The sections on the kind of attention that serious reading requires were especially good, as were his discussions of the different types of reading. While those are serious topics, the joy that Jacobs takes in reading courses throughout the book, and he’s keen to remind the reader that reading for enjoyment is far more important than to “have read” to impress others.

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Advice for adoptive parents

The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive FamilyThe Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family by Karyn B. Purvis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The authors give an enlightening overview of the issues that children face when coming into a new home and some good ideas for parents. The information and ideas are most applicable to children 10 and under. My wife, a nurse, thought that the chapter on nutrition and brain chemistry made some ill-supported claims.

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American colonial history with a twist

American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and FaithsAmerican Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths by Thomas S. Kidd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kidd gives a concise but rich narrative of colonial history, focusing, as the subtitle suggests, on religious and cultural tensions. The attention paid to the interaction between various colonial and Native American groups was a real strength that gave the book a different feel than other overviews of the colonial period. Kidd also included the Spanish and French colonial efforts in areas that would become part of the United States.

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The poetry of Hesiod

Theogony And Works And DaysTheogony And Works And Days by Hesiod
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had heard many references to Hesiod but never read him. The two poems (translated mostly as prose) are just about 30 pages and 25 pages respectively, but have a lot packed in: the history of gods and human beings and Hesiod’s comments on how to be a successful farmer. It was interesting to see Hesiod using some of the same or similar epithets for the gods and goddesses that Homer uses in the Iliad.

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The context of Magna Carta

Magna CartaMagna Carta by Katherine Fischer Drew
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lots of useful information and analysis about a wide range of topics, but I would have organized it differently to help the reader get the goods. The format (context and impacts of the Magna Carta and then biographies of key medieval church and state figures) meant that the same events were described again and again.

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