1. Goethe – Faust, pt. 1, Penguin Classic edition (1949; orig. 1801). Never read this. I did read The Elective Affinities a few years ago, which wasn't exactly what I expected (good though). You've heard the opera(s), now read the book!
2. Ferdinand de Saussure – Course in General Linguistics (1959; orig. 1915). I'm always amused by criticisms of "post-structuralism" which point out triumphantly that Saussure was wrong about this or that. Q: What part of "post-structuralism" don't you understand? (A: the "post-" part.) Not like I'll be reading this one soon, but it may prove useful for reference at some point (he said, engaging in furious rationalization for his cupidity).
3. Paul Ramsey – Nine Modern Moralists (1962). To wit: Tillich, Marx, Niebuhr (x 2), Dostoevski [sic; not like that's wrong, of course], Maritain, Sartre, Brunner, and one Edmond Cahn. Blurb on the back: "A single thread runs through these essays, that divine charity, by transforming human justice and elevating legal morality, created the Western conception of the good community." Never heard of this guy, but it says he was the chair of the Religion dept. at Princeton. Looks interesting. Onto the shelf with the other unread theology!
4. Steven Vogel – Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People (1998). Not sure about this one, on second look. It's a pop science book about the mechanical principles explaining various natural forms. It does mention cats though. I'll keep it around for a while.
5. Robert Coles – The Moral Life of Children (1986). Out of the mouths of babes. I keep hearing about this one – but he has a number of simarly titled books, so maybe I'm just confused.
6. Philip Kerr – A Philosophical Investigation (1992). This could be stupid, but I couldn't resist. It's a serial-killer tale, and yes, the title is indeed alluding to a somewhat more famous work by someone else. From the blurb on the inside dust cover: "Inspector 'Jake' Jacowicz must use all her powers of reason and intuition to track this extraordinary sociopath, code-named 'Wittgenstein,' who draws her into a diabolical cat-and-mouse game and engages her in a chilling 'philosophical' dialogue about the nature of life itself." Set in 2013, by the way.
7. Wm. Buckler, ed. – Prose of the Victorian Period (1958). 570 pp. of Macaulay, Carlyle, Newman, Mill, Ruskin, Arnold, T. H. Huxley, and Pater. I don't currently suffer from insomnia, but it's nice to know that if I ever do, Sartor Resartus will be within easy reach. I kid – actually this does look good.
8. Steven Pinker – Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (1999). Not a big Pinker fan, but here he has limited himself to a very narrow topic: irregular verbs. The author attempts to entertain as well as instruct. Here's a taste, from p. 85, a quoted excerpt from one of the H*y*m*a*n K*a*p*l*a*n books:
"I tought de pest time 'bite' should be—'bote.'"And naturally there's a lot of stuff about kids. Put it on the shelf next to the Coles book.
Miss Mitnick gave a little gasp.
"'Bote'?" Mr. Parkhill asked in amazement. "'Bote'?"
"'Bote'!" said Mr. Kaplan.
Mr. Parkhill shook his head. "I don't see your point."
"Vell," sighed Mr. Kaplan, with a modest shrug, "if is 'write, wrote, written' so vy isn't 'bite, bote, bitten'?"
Psychic cymbals crashed in Mr. Parkhill's ears.
"There is not such a word 'bote,'" protested Miss Mitnick, who took this all as a personal affront. Her voice was small, but desperate.
"Not-soch-a-void!" Mr. Kaplan repeated ironically. "Mine dear Mitnick, don' I know is not soch a void? Did I say is soch a void? All I'm eskink is, isn't logical should be soch a void?"
9. An Anthology of English Drama Before Shakespeare (1952, orig., well, before Shakespeare). Everyman and other such. Not all dour mystery plays; there's also something called "A Right Pithy, Pleasant, and Merry Comedy Entitled Gammer Gurton's Needle."
10. Leonard Peikoff – The Ayn Rand Library, Vol. VI: Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1991). Not all dour mystery plays (oh wait, that was the last book). This, the publisher feels it is important that the reader know, was endorsed by Miss Rand as "the only authorized presentation of the entire theoretical structure of Objectivism. P.S.: Kant sucks." (okay, I added that last part). Accept no substitutes!
11. Kazuo Ishiguro – When We Were Orphans (2000). I have not yet managed to read any Ishiguro, though The Unconsoled has been parked on my shelf for some time (thanks Jay!). That book was recommended to me heartily, as being one that I in particular would like, by someone who had not 30 seconds earlier described his experience with it as including many instances of wanting to hurl the book across the room. Not sure how to take that. Also, I have had the recent Never Let Me Go out of the library proper for a month now (haven't started it yet). I did see the movie of The Remains of the Day though – partial credit? This one has been described to me as being a cross between Remains and The Unconsoled. Let me try Never Let Me Go; then we'll see about the others.
12. Strunk and White. They always have a few copies of this, and I always get one, so I can hand them out to those who especially need it. But I never do (seems presumptuous somehow), so they're accumulating. Oh well, there's fifteen cents wasted.
13. José Ortega y Gasset – The Dehumanization of Art (1948) Includes 4 other essays, including "In Search of Goethe from Within," which goes well with #1 above, don't you think? I may actually have this one somewhere already, but I don't see it.
14. Howard Kahane – Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life (1992). This is your typical Critical Reasoning textbook. Looks okay. Lots of cartoons and quotations, making it reasonably entertaining. Continuing our theme for the day, here's one from our man Goethe:
When an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.Ouch. That's harsh.
15. Actually, this one deserves its own post. Stay tuned. Really, you are not going to believe this one.