I was tidying the shelves in the Living Room at Central Library when I ran across a book called Tattoos: I Ink Therefore I Am. I read through the chapter titles: “How to Read a Tattoo, and Other Perilous Quests,” “Tattoo You,” “To Ink or Not to Ink,” “The Vice of the Tough Tattoo.” Other sections discuss the history of tattooing and issues people have with tattoos and why. This is a serious book, but also fun and it made me think about something I don’t usually give much attention to. It’s part of a series called Philosophy for Everyone (edited by Fritz Allhoff) and there are 19 of these great little books so far. No longer is philosophy confined to huge questions like “What is the meaning of life?” or “Is this reality?” Take a few minutes and contemplate the equally important everyday issues.
Did you ever take the time, for instance, (other than first thing in the morning) to think about coffee? According to Kristopher G. Phillips, the “unexamined cup is not worth drinking” (p. 34). If you read Coffee: Grounds for Debate, you can get great “sage advice from Ben’s mom” on “the value of the coffeehouse” (p. 73). This thought-provoking series explores the history of ideas about aspects of life that matter to us and also the huge questions of right and wrong that we often let slide. However, we don’t all subscribe to the same ethic in many cases and these instances crop up unexpectedly in the areas of law, religion, politics, war and entertainment: the thinking person’s territory.
At first glance the book Climbing: Because It’s There seems superfluous to those of us with feet planted on the ground. To those who climb, however, it’s interesting to think about why climbers risk their necks hanging upside down from sheer precipices. Brian Treanor’s essay, “High Aspirations: Climbing and Self-Cultivation” may put words to the general feeling that climbers are doing something good for themselves.
Do you want to ensure a good dating experience? Take a look at Dating: Flirting with Big Ideas. Hone your instincts by reading the essays “The Dating Elevator: Pushing the Right Buttons and Moving from Floor to Floor” by John Rowan and “Just Pushy Enough” by Anne Barnhill. These writers have intellectual chops, as does Dan Silber whose thoughts on “How to Be Yourself in an Online World” helps us curb that instinct to pretend we are intellectually superior humans with pro athlete physiques/Barbie’s curves.
And for the upcoming holiday season, consider Christmas: Better Than a Lump of Coal. Contributors to this volume of the series aren’t interested in winning anyone over to the religious aspects of Christmas. Instead readers are asked to consider whether celebrating Christmas is a good idea at all and why a modern parent would emphasize what one author dubs “the Santa surveillance system” in a semi-serious section on the Santa Claus myth, “Making a List, Checking it Twice.”
A clever series on philosophy that exercises regular brains like mine: what a welcome novelty! Enjoy some entertaining essays and think about stuff you haven’t considered before.