The Wisdom of No Escape

If I don’t mention some various, possibly totally disconnected thoughts and reviews of the books I’ve recently read, I will drive myself nuts.

I enjoyed The Dharma of Star Wars very much. Matthew Bortolin does an excellent job of explaining Buddhism through the Star Wars saga. A more geeky theme would be hard to come by but (though the author would certainly be comfortable discussing Wampas and Tauntauns) he sticks to the larger Star Wars legend that we all know. It’s a bit surprising how imbued Star Wars is with Buddhist themes and it makes an excellent teaching tool.

I had thought that TDOSW was a bit heavy on the “technical” side of Buddhism (three types of this, four parts to that, eight ways for this) so I ended up speeding through the book near the end. I will re-visit it though because I’ve since found that I greatly appreciate the way in which Bortolin explains these aspects. I’ve discovered that by reading Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen. Though initially, I enjoyed Hagen’s simple direct style, I didn’t connect with the book as a whole. A lot of the more, um, cryptic aspects of Buddhism aren’t as easily explained in a “plain and simple” way. Bortolin’s method of relating these aspects to another medium — pop culture films — offers a unique perspective to understanding Buddhism.

Also, I finished Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer which was an intense read from start to finish. Setting out to write a book about the Mormon faith he grew up around, Krakauer ended up exploring the extremes of that faith that drove two brothers to murder. It’s a really gripping story about a religion that’s uniquely American and whose history corresponds with turbulent periods in the history of this country.

Finally, I finished The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this afternoon. I thoroughly loved the book. Its narrator is an autistic teenager who is determined to solve the mystery of a neighbor’s dog’s death and finds himself deep within another mystery. Reading his emotionless narration through extremely traumatic events in his life is completely absorbing. Author Mark Haddon, a bio tells me, worked with autistic children in his youth so presumably he knows his subject matter. In a review quote on the cover, the book is compared to Oliver Sack’s real life stories, most obviously “An Anthropologist on Mars” which I don’t think I ever actually read. It’s been on my shelf for more than a decade so I guess I’ll dust it off and have a go at it soon.

Thus endeth the book reading update for now.