sbaker@northshire.com's blog

Sam Baker - Bookseller in Manchester

Although I read fiction from time to time and I especially love science fiction, I am primarily a non fiction guy. My interest and reading in non fiction spans many sections within the Northshire Bookstore including: MBS (mind-body spirit), History, Management-Finance-Economics, Political Science, Current Issues, Science, Nature Literature and Art. Subsections that interest me within those sections include philosophy, religion, spirituality, self help, creative studies, psychology (all in MBS), world history, ancient history, complexity science and chaos theory (Physics), education (Current Issues), China (Current Issues) and futurist studies (Physics). Having said that, my favorite books and authors are usually interdisciplinary and thus tend to defy category. For example some of my favorite books at Northshire include the Tao of Physics by Frijof Capra (in Physics), On Trials by Robert Moor (in Nature Lit), anything by Nassim Taleb (Anti-Fragile and Skin in the Game -- both in Philosophy), The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt (CI) and Out of Your Mind by Alan Watts (Philosophy).

 

The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake in the middle of the night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting."
T.H. White (from the Once and Future King)

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein - Book Review

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Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735214484
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 1-5 Business Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 28th, 2019

The best books give us a new way to see the world. RANGE did this for me not once or twice, but consistently over the course of 12 chapters all playing off of a central theme as evident in the book's subtitle: "Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World." each chapter challenges a seemingly self evident conventional wisdom of our modern world such as: "trust the experts," "the sooner you specialize the better," "never give up," or "the more experience the better." ~ Reviewed by Sam Baker


Iron John: A Book about Men by Robert Bly - Book Review

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Iron John: A Book about Men Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780306824265
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Da Capo Press - November 10th, 2015

This is one of those rare books that blows the mind and then begs to be read over and over again. The premise is unusual -- and perhaps that is why it is so compelling. The author Robert Bly, a founder of the mythopoetic men's movement he helped birth in the 1980's, walks us through the obscure German fairy tale, Iron John, alternating the telling of the tale with a blend of literary scholarship and poetic imagination. What results is a work of deep and timeless wisdom -- an inspiring, bracing antidote to our cynical, materialist, soul-crushing, conformity-obsessed modern world. ~ Reviewed by Sam Baker


Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder - Book Review

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Why Poetry Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062343086
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Ecco - June 12th, 2018

There is no question mark in the title of this wonderful, provocative book: Why Poetry. And for good reason. According to Matthew Zapruder poetry not only plays a unique -- dare I say (my word) magical -- purpose in human culture but also in our individual human journeys through life by being "usefully useless"! In one of my favorite passages in the book, Zapruder describes a poets' job as "refusing to do what others find useful." Poetry is an antidote to our modern scientific materialistic culture that has become unbalanced: obsessed as it is with efficiency, reason, certainty, productivity, accomplishment, control and action. Poetry has always been a reliable source of frustration and bafflement for me. Thanks to this lovely book, I appreciate how the inherent mystery of poetry is not a bug but an abiding, important feature of this vital art form. ~ Reviewed by Sam Baker


Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet by Will Hunt - Book Review

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Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath Our Feet Cover Image
$27.00
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780812996746
Published: Random House - January 29th, 2019

Will Hunt's profoundly wise book -- his first -- is much more than a history of underground spaces: the catacombs and sewers beneath paris, the subways beneath New York City, the ancient caves in the old world and the new world where humans have sought spiritual solace and access to the hidden world behind this one. This book is an interdisciplinary tour de force. It weaves edge-of-your-seat biographic adventure narrative with a fascinating tapestry of intellectual delights : the neuroscience of sensory deprivation, religious studies, cross cultural mythology from across space and time, anthropology, art history, and even a wonderful detour into the world of the legendary graffiti artist Revs. The result is immensely fulfilling journey into an often forgotten and unfairly denigrated dimension of our human experience: the dark world beneath our feet as well as deep in our subconscious minds! ~ Reviewed by Sam Baker


Rule of Thumb by Andrew Whyte - Book Review

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Rule of Thumb Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780692107294
Availability: Click Title for IN STORE Location
Published: Andrew - April 24th, 2018

Have you ever dreamed of quitting your job and taking off on a hitch hiking adventure into the great unknown? If you are young enough to still do it, read this book for inspiration! If you are already settled down and the days of hitch hiking dreams are long gone, read this book for endless vicarious pleasures of harrowing adventure, camaraderie, existential angst, love and lust, self discovery and even some real magic. ~ Reviewed by Sam Baker


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