Cokesbury Sale!

Yesterday, I finally put together a list of all the books at Cokesbury that I’ve been waiting to get and just grimaced and pressed “submit order” and figured I’d eat ramen for most of the winter to help pay for the items I’d purchased.

Then, I go through my email and see this notice from Cokesbury. Did I cancel my order? Yes, I did. Hopefully tomorrow my items will still be available and I’ll have saved a chunk of money.

Now you can order too. If nothing else, get together with some friends and preorder your Wesley Study Bibles.

For three days, Cokesbury may actually be able to beat Amazon’s prices. Take advantage now.

St. Paul ate my breakfast.

(something odd is happening with my blog formatting this morning, so I apologize for the lack of paragraph separation. I have redone it five times now, and before I smash something, I’m giving up)

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.(Romans 7:15,16)

Well, maybe Paul isn’t exactly clear on what he did that he hated, but isn’t it possible that he ate two Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and drank three cups of coffee and a glass of milk before 6 a.m.? He could have had a bowl of oatmeal, but he chose the wrong thing.
Which leads me to a review of Dan Ariely’s Irrational Predictability. I ate the cinnamon rolls this morning knowing that they would not make me feel great. I know I’ll have to eat something with protein in it later, and I know that I need to lose weight. But the cinnamon rolls were there. I didn’t have to cook them, because I made them yesterday for a group of my daughter’s friends who spent the night. So they were easy, and they were also tasty.
Ariely makes the case that we don’t always make good choices. Not a difficult case to make, but he provides some unique insights into how we behave through his experiments in behavioral economics, which he describes as “an emerging field focused on the (quite intuitive) idea that people do not always behave rationally and that they often make mistakes in their decisions.”
A number of experiments he arranged deal with dishonesty. At MIT, where he conducted much of his work, he put 6 packs of Coke in various common area refrigerators. Within 72 hours, they were all gone. No one had the right to take the drinks, they didn’t belong to them. He went back and put plates with $6 dollars on them.When he returned, 72 hours later, they were undisturbed. It’s ok to take a Coke, but not a dollar.
So cash influences our decisions, as do the number of choices we have, and the types of choices. There’s nothing in the book that’s terribly surprising (given the opportunity, students will cheat; when people are aroused, they make bad decisions; people procrastinate) but the way he illuminates the poor decision making is great reading.
It’s also relevant to religious discussion.
When reminded of the Ten Commandments prior to an exercise, people were more honest while completing the task. This makes the tefillin seem like pretty good crime prevention.
In social situations, people will go further than they will in economic situations. “Our church” has a thrift store. It’s mostly run by retired people in the community. They work hard for this store, despite the fact that they are “volunteers” (actually, servants). I heard one of them say at one point “you couldn’t pay me to work this hard.” They were right.
We make decisions for strange reasons. When Ariely talks about how we make economic decisions, it gives us insight into our human behavior.
Though he doesn’t speak about gambling in this book, his experiments have further application. Our psychological ties to cash are obvious to lottery runners and casinos. It’s why we exchange cash for chips. It doesn’t hurt as much.
Imagine going into a convenience store, handing the guy a dollar and having him push a button and say “You lose, next!” How long until we had to find other state income plans?
This book will not make me quit making bad decisions. Even Ariely admits to some of his own. But having some knowledge of what influences our decision making can help us improve our chances. There will be no cinnamon rolls on my counter tomorrow morning.

100 Books (some great)

Thanks to Mary Beth for this list. Last year, there was a survey in England to determine 100 books you couldn’t live without. For some reason this is now making the blog rounds, allegedly attributed to the NEA’s Big Read project. It’s not in any way related to that, but it’s a fun list anyway.

The blogging suggestions are to “embolden” the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you intend to read and asterisk the ones you love. I’ll do the bold part, but I’m too lazy to do the rest. I will add that the fact that The Davinci Code is on a list, of any sort, placed before Hamlet and A Prayer for Owen Meany, seriously calls into question the sanity of everyone in the UK.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma – Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62 Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo


I’ve been looking at Bookswim for at least a year now, and finally decided I’d give it a try. Of course it’s most often compared to Netflix, and that’s a very apt comparison, though Netflix recommendations and categories are far more advanced than Bookswim’s.

Bookswim does have an amazingly deep catalog though, and the turn around on getting my books was fast. I have yet to return any, so I’ll have to update when I do that. I ordered my books on Saturday, received an email on Monday and received the books on Friday, which isn’t bad considering it’s shipped USPS Media mail.

I love my local library, and I like visiting bookstores. But Jackson, the closest city with a bookstore, has very little to offer. My local library, and the Jackson library, are very helpful and I use the interlibrary loan program regularly, but there are just some books you’re not going to find through ILL, and when you do, you may get them at a point when it’s difficult to read them and get them back in on time. Bookswim seems like a good solution for book fiends.

New Monasticism

These folks are Sparky, Katrina, Karlie, and Jon. They work at Windows Booksellers in Eugene Oregon. They are also part of a Church known as Church of the Servant King. Jon is on a book buying trip this week which will bring him through Jackson.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested in new monasticism. Every year, when many of us gather for a meeting of the Ekklesia Project I enjoy talking with those members from Eugene, not least because Jon has fabulous taste in cigars and is generous.

Another reason is because the culture in Eugene is probably the furthest you can get from West Tennessee and still be in the same country. It’s interesting. I’m looking forward to sitting with Stock for a few hours.