Category Archives: Other

Cheap books: Inside Scientology, Guns of August

Two items I know many of you have been planning to read someday, currently cheap on Kindle:
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org—the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman’s Great War Series (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books)

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.

Ed Yong Contains Multitudes But His Book Is Now Cheap On Kindle

I assume for just a day or two, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong is available for $2.99

Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.

The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.

Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.

Logan’s Run

The book, now on Kindle cheap. You may not remember the movie, but if you do, you probably want the book.

Logan’s Run: Vintage Movie Classics (A Vintage Movie Classic) by William Nolan

The bestselling dystopian novel that inspired the 1970s science-fiction classic starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Richard Jordan.

In 2116, it is against the law to live beyond the age of twenty-one years. When the crystal flower in the palm of your hand turns from red to black, you have reached your Lastday and you must report to a Sleepshop for processing. But the human will to survive is strong—stronger than any mere law.

Logan 3 is a Sandman, an enforcer who hunts down those Runners who refuse to accept Deep Sleep. The day before Logan’s palmflower shifts to black, a Runner accidentally reveals that he was racing toward a goal: Sanctuary. With this information driving him forward, Logan 3 assumes the role of the hunted and becomes a Runner.

Greene and Le Guin Cheap Kindle Books

The Birthday of the World: And Other Stories

For more than four decades, Ursula K. Le Guin has enthralled readers with her imagination, clarity, and moral vision. The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and five Hugo and five Nebula Awards, this renowned writer has, in each story and novel, created a provocative, ever-evolving universe filled with diverse worlds and rich characters reminiscent of our earthly selves. Now, in The Birthday of the World, this gifted artist returns to these worlds in eight brilliant short works, including a never-before-published novella, each of which probes the essence of humanity.

Here are stories that explore complex social interactions and troublesome issues of gender and sex; that define and defy notions of personal relationships and of society itself; that examine loyalty, survival, and introversion; that bring to light the vicissitudes of slavery and the meaning of transformation, religion, and history.

The first six tales in this spectacular volume are set in the author’s signature world of the Ekumen, “my pseudo-coherent universe with holes in the elbows,” as Le Guin describes it — a world made familiar in her award-winning novel The Left Hand of Darkness. The seventh, title story was hailed by Publishers Weekly as “remarkable . . . a standout.” The final offering in the collection, Paradises Lost, is a mesmerizing novella of space exploration and the pursuit of happiness.

In her foreword, Ursula K. Le Guin writes, “to create difference-to establish strangeness-then to let the fiery arc of human emotion leap and close the gap: this acrobatics of the imagination fascinates and satisfies me as no other.” In The Birthday of the World, this gifted literary acrobat exhibits a dazzling array of skills that will fascinate and satisfy us all.

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos

The bestselling author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos tackles perhaps the most mind-bending question in modern physics and cosmology: Is our universe the only universe?

There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one of us, a multiverse populated by vast sheets of spacetime, a multiverse in which all we consider real are holographic illusions, and even a multiverse made purely of math–and reveals the reality hidden within each.

Using his trademark wit and precision, Greene presents a thrilling survey of cutting-edge physics and confronts the inevitable question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach? The Hidden Reality is a remarkable adventure through a world more vast and strange than anything we could have imagined.

If the Catholic Church was a secular entity it would be shut down. So, let’s shut it down.

Clergy Abuse Hotline: 888-538-8551

I wonder if the penny has finally dropped. Our society needs to finally come to grips with the fact that religion is not inherently good, and should get no pass just for existing. Rather, it should be given close scrutiny.

Giving religious organizations, religious people, or religion itself any status above cultism is dangerous, especially to children. Just do not do it. The sex slavery and abuse within the Catholic Church is widespread and has gone on unchecked for who knows how long (centuries?) and it has been allowed to happen because police, government officials, politicians, and regular citizens give sway to anything religious.

The Pennsylvania AG and a grand jury has compiles an extensive report on sexual predation and related matters in six of Pennsylvania’s eight diocese. You can read it here.

From WaPo, a sampling of the horrors:

In Erie, a 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by a priest who then told him he should go to confession and confess his “sins” to that same priest.

Another boy was repeatedly raped from ages 13 to 15 by a priest who bore down so hard on the boy’s back that it caused severe spine injuries. He became addicted to painkillers and later died of an overdose.

One victim in Pittsburgh was forced to pose naked as Christ on the cross while priests photographed him with a Polaroid camera. Priests gave the boy and others gold cross necklaces to mark them as being “groomed” for abuse.

The report makes clear that few criminal cases may result from the massive investigation.

“As a consequence of the coverup, almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted,” the report said.

Harlan Ellison Ed, Girl raised by monkeys, Monster lore, Brian Greene, Cheap Books

In Kindle form:

Again, Dangerous Visions: Stories an anthology:

Over the course of his legendary career, Harlan Ellison has defied—and sometimes defined—modern fantasy literature, all while refusing to allow any genre to claim him. A Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association as well as winner of countless awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker, Ellison is as unpredictable as he is unique, irrepressible as he is infuriating.

Again, Dangerous Visions is the classic companion to the most essential science fiction anthology ever published, and includes forty?six original stories edited and with introductions by Harlan Ellison, featuring John Heidenry, Ross Rocklynne, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andrew J. Offutt, Gene Wolfe, Ray Nelson, Ray Bradbury, Chad Oliver, Edward Bryant, Kate Wilhelm, James B. Hemesath, Joanna Russ, Kurt Vonnegut, T. L. Sherred, K. M. O’Donnell (Barry N. Malzberg), H. H. Hollis, Bernard Wolfe, David Gerrold, Piers Anthony, Lee Hoffman, Gahan Wilson, Joan Bernott, Gregory Benford, Evelyn Lief, James Sallis, Josephine Saxton, Ken McCullough, David Kerr, Burt K. Filer, Richard Hill, Leonard Tushnet, Ben Bova, Dean Koontz, James Blish and Judith Ann Lawrence, A. Parra (y Figueredo), Thomas M. Disch, Richard A. Lupoff, M. John Harrison, Robin Scott, Andrew Weiner, Terry Carr, and James Tiptree Jr.

The Girl with No Name: The Incredible Story of a Child Raised by Monkeys

In 1954, in a remote mountain village in South America, a little girl was abducted. She was four years old. Marina Chapman was stolen from her housing estate and then abandoned deep in the Colombian jungle. That she survived is a miracle. Two days later, half-drugged, terrified, and starving, she came upon a troop of capuchin monkeys. Acting entirely on instinct, she tried to do what they did: she ate what they ate and copied their actions, and little by little, learned to fend for herself.

So begins the story of her five years among the monkeys, during which time she gradually became feral; she lost the ability to speak, lost all inhibition, lost any real sense of being human, replacing the structure of human society with the social mores of her new simian family. But society was eventually to reclaim her. At age ten, she was discovered by a pair of hunters who took her to the lawless Colombian city of Cucuta where, in exchange for a parrot, they sold her to a brothel. When she learned that she was to be groomed for prostitution, she made her plans to escape. But her adventure wasn’t over yet . . .

In the vein of Slumdog Millionaire and City of God, this rousing story of a lost child who overcomes the dangers of the wild and the brutality of the streets to finally reclaim her life will astonish readers everywhere.

The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures

A fascinating, beautifully illustrated guide to the monsters that are part of our collective psyche, featuring stories from the Lore podcast—now a streaming television series—including “They Made a Tonic,” “Passed Notes,” and “Unboxed,” as well as rare material.

They live in shadows—deep in the forest, late in the night, in the dark recesses of our minds. They’re spoken of in stories and superstitions, relics of an unenlightened age, old wives’ tales, passed down through generations. Yet no matter how wary and jaded we have become, as individuals or as a society, a part of us remains vulnerable to them: werewolves and wendigos, poltergeists and vampires, angry elves and vengeful spirits.

In this beautifully illustrated volume, the host of the hit podcast Lore serves as a guide on a fascinating journey through the history of these terrifying creatures, exploring not only the legends but what they tell us about ourselves. Aaron Mahnke invites us to the desolate Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where the notorious winged, red-eyed Jersey Devil dwells. He delves into harrowing accounts of cannibalism—some officially documented, others the stuff of speculation . . . perhaps. He visits the dimly lit rooms where séances take place, the European villages where gremlins make mischief, even Key West, Florida, home of a haunted doll named Robert.

In a world of “emotional vampires” and “zombie malls,” the monsters of folklore have become both a part of our language and a part of our collective psyche. Whether these beasts and bogeymen are real or just a reflection of our primal fears, we know, on some level, that not every mystery has been explained and that the unknown still holds the power to strike fear deep in our hearts and souls. As Aaron Mahnke reminds us, sometimes the truth is even scarier than the lore.

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene.

The bestselling author of The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory and The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality tackles perhaps the most mind-bending question in modern physics and cosmology: Is our universe the only universe?

There was a time when “universe” meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one of us, a multiverse populated by vast sheets of spacetime, a multiverse in which all we consider real are holographic illusions, and even a multiverse made purely of math–and reveals the reality hidden within each.

Using his trademark wit and precision, Greene presents a thrilling survey of cutting-edge physics and confronts the inevitable question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach? The Hidden Reality is a remarkable adventure through a world more vast and strange than anything we could have imagined.

Ray Bradbury and Bill Bryson Books

What do Ray Bradbury and Bill Bryson have in common? Very little. But, at the moment, each of them has a book on sale really cheap in Kindle form.

We’ll Always Have Paris: Stories by Ray Bradbury.

In We’ll Always Have Paris—a new collection of never-before-published stories—the inimitable Bradbury once again does what few writers have ever done as well. He delights us with prose that soars and sings. He surprises and inspires, exposing truths and provoking deep thought. He imagines great things and poignantly observes human foibles and frailties. He enchants us with the magic he mastered decades ago and still performs flawlessly. In these pages, radio voices become indomitable flesh and the dead arise to recapture life. There is joy in an eccentric old man’s dance for the world and wonder over the workings of humankind’s best friend, O Holy Dog. Whether he’s exploring the myriad ways to be reborn, or the circumstances that can make any man a killer, or returning us to Mars, Bradbury opens the world to us and beckons us in.

Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society by Bill Bryson.

Bill Bryson takes readers on a guided tour through the great discoveries, feuds, and personalities of modern science. Already a major bestseller in the UK, Seeing Further tells the fascinating story of science and the Royal Society with Bill Bryson’s trademark wit and intelligence, and contributions from a host of well known scientists and science fiction writers, including Richard Dawkins, Neal Stephenson, James Gleick, and Margret Atwood. It is a delightful literary treat from the acclaimed author who previous explored the current state of scientific knowledge in his phenomenally popular book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Cheap Books: Vonegut, Robots

Now cheap in Kindle format.

Jailbird: A Novel by Kurt Vonnegut.

Jailbird takes us into a fractured and comic, pure Vonnegut world of high crimes and misdemeanors in government—and in the heart. This wry tale follows bumbling bureaucrat Walter F. Starbuck from Harvard to the Nixon White House to the penitentiary as Watergate’s least known co-conspirator. But the humor turns dark when Vonnegut shines his spotlight on the cold hearts and calculated greed of the mighty, giving a razor-sharp edge to an unforgettable portrait of power and politics in our times.

I don’t know about Generation Robot: A Century of Science Fiction, Fact, and Speculation by Terri Favro, but it looks interesting.

Generation Robot covers a century of science fiction, fact and, speculation—from the 1950 publication of Isaac Asimov’s seminal robot masterpiece, I, Robot, to the 2050 Singularity when artificial and human intelligence are predicted to merge. Beginning with a childhood informed by pop-culture robots in movies, in comic books, and on TV in the 1960s to adulthood where the possibilities of self-driving cars and virtual reality are daily conversation, Terri Favro offers a unique perspective on how our relationship with robotics and futuristic technologies has shifted over time. Peppered with pop-culture fun-facts about Superman’s kryptonite, the human-machine relationships in the cult TV show Firefly, and the sexual and moral implications of the film Ex Machina, Generation Robot explores how the techno-triumphs and resulting anxieties of reality bleed into the fantasies of our collective culture.

Clever and accessible, Generation Robot isn’t just for the serious, scientific reader—it’s for everyone interested in robotics and technology since their science-fiction origins. By looking back at the future she once imagined, analyzing the plugged-in present, and speculating on what is on the horizon, Terri Favro allows readers the chance to consider what was, what is, and what could be. This is a captivating book that looks at the pop-culture of our society to explain how the world works—now and tomorrow.

Asimov, Dick, Michener, Offit, Kindle, Cheap Books

An excellent selection of Kindle format books for you, I’m pretty sure available only for several hours:

Foundation by Isaac Asimov. Needs no description.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: The inspiration for the films Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 by Philip Dick.

Centennial: A Novel by James Michener. This is a novel set in the West a hundred years after the American Revolution.

Vaccinated: Triumph, Controversy, and An Uncertain F by Paul Offit.

Maurice Hilleman’s mother died a day after he was born and his twin sister stillborn. As an adult, he said that he felt he had escaped an appointment with death. He made it his life’s work to see that others could do the same. Born into the life of a Montana chicken farmer, Hilleman ran off to the University of Chicago to become a microbiologist, and eventually joined Merck, the pharmaceutical company, to pursue his goal of eliminating childhood disease. Chief among his accomplishments are nine vaccines that practically every child gets, rendering formerly dread diseases—including often devastating ones such as mumps and rubella—practically toothless and nearly forgotten; his measles vaccine alone saves several million lives every year.

Vaccinated is not a biography; Hilleman’s experience forms the basis for a rich and lively narrative of two hundred years of medical history, ranging across the globe and throughout time to take in a cast of hundreds, all caught up, intentionally or otherwise, in the story of vaccines. It is an inspiring and triumphant tale, but one with a cautionary aspect, as vaccines come under assault from people blaming vaccines for autism and worse. Paul Offit clearly and compellingly rebuts those arguments, and, by demonstrating how much the work of Hilleman and others has gained for humanity, shows us how much we have to lose.

How are Dinosaurs and World War I related?

Both are topics of some books now cheap in Kindle form.

The Dinosaur Hunters: A True Story of Scientific Rivalry and the Discovery of the Prehistoric World (Text Only Edition) by Deborah Cadbury (previously published under a different name, I think) may be a bit esoteric for some, but for a dollar-ninety-nine …

The story of two nineteenth-century scientists who revealed one of the most significant and exciting events in the natural history of this planet: the existence of dinosaurs. In `The Dinosaur Hunters’ Deborah Cadbury brilliantly recreates the remarkable story of the bitter rivalry between two men: Gideon Mantell uncovered giant bones in a Sussex quarry, became obsessed with the lost world of the reptiles and was driven to despair. Richard Owen, a brilliant anatomist, gave the extinct creatures their name and secured for himself unrivaled international acclaim.

The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman’s Great War Series (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books) by one of the great earlier popularizers of history Barbara Tuchman:

In this landmark, Pulitzer Prize–winning account, renowned historian Barbara W. Tuchman re-creates the first month of World War I: thirty days in the summer of 1914 that determined the course of the conflict, the century, and ultimately our present world. Beginning with the funeral of Edward VII, Tuchman traces each step that led to the inevitable clash. And inevitable it was, with all sides plotting their war for a generation. Dizzyingly comprehensive and spectacularly portrayed with her famous talent for evoking the characters of the war’s key players, Tuchman’s magnum opus is a classic for the ages.

And not on sale, but I’m putting it here because you may want to read it: All Quiet on the Western Front: A Novel by Erich Maria Remarque. If you don’t know the book, you should. Also a great movie.

Lincoln, Serling, Al-Sharif Books Cheap

Three books that will be of interest to my readers, cheap for the Kindle.

As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling by Serling’s Daughter, Anne.

In this intimate, lyrical memoir about her iconic father, Anne Serling reveals the fun-loving dad and family man behind the imposing figure the public saw hosting The Twilight Zone each week. After his unexpected, early death, Anne, just 20, was left stunned. But through talking to his friends, poring over old correspondence, and recording her childhood memories, Anne not only found solace, but gained a deeper understanding of this remarkable man. Now she shares her discoveries, along with personal photos, revealing letters, and scenes of his childhood, war years, and their family’s time together. A tribute to Rod Serling’s legacy as a visionary, storyteller, and humanist, As I Knew Him is also a moving testament to the love between fathers and daughters.

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Awakening by Manal Al-Sharif.

“A vital, inspiring book” (O, The Oprah Magazine): a ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of the courageous movement that won Saudi women the right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year strict fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties Manal was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound built to resemble suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her school-age brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in the garage, she was forbidden from driving on Saudi streets.

Manal al-Sharif’s memoir is an “eye-opening” (The Christian Science Monitor) account of the making of an accidental activist, a vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Daring to Drive is “a brave, extraordinary, heartbreakingly personal” (Associated Press) celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny and “a testament to how women in Muslim countries are helping change their culture, one step at a time” (New York Journal of Books).

A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald White.

This is an excellent bio.

Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as a man of integrity–what today’s commentators would call “authenticity”–whose moral compass holds the key to understanding his life.

Through meticulous research of the newly completed Lincoln Legal Papers, as well as of recently discovered letters and photographs, White provides a portrait of Lincoln’s personal, political, and moral evolution. White shows us Lincoln as a man who would leave a trail of thoughts in his wake, jotting ideas on scraps of paper and filing them in his top hat or the bottom drawer of his desk; a country lawyer who asked questions in order to figure out his own thinking on an issue, as much as to argue the case; a hands-on commander in chief who, as soldiers and sailors watched in amazement, commandeered a boat and ordered an attack on Confederate shore batteries at the tip of the Virginia peninsula; a man who struggled with the immorality of slavery and as president acted publicly and privately to outlaw it forever; and finally, a president involved in a religious odyssey who wrote, for his own eyes only, a profound meditation on “the will of God” in the Civil War that would become the basis of his finest address.

Most enlightening, the Abraham Lincoln who comes into focus in this stellar narrative is a person of intellectual curiosity, comfortable with ambiguity, unafraid to “think anew and act anew.”

A transcendent, sweeping, passionately written biography that greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of its subject, A. Lincoln will engage a whole new generation of Americans. It is poised to shed a profound light on our greatest president just as America commemorates the bicentennial of his birth.