So my awesome little sis gave me this book for Christmas:

Empire of Illusion, by Chris Hedges

It was great.  It gave me a lot to think about; addressed some thoughts and concerns I had already been ruminating on in a much more articulate and explicit way.

So once I finished, I went through the notes and bibliography in the back of the book and bought every book that I had recalled the author referencing in an interesting way; about 7 more books.
I read them in pretty random order, starting with this one:

The Image, by Daniel Boorstin

It’s hard to describe this book, but I can’t recommend it high enough even though reading it was an almost excoriating experience.  It was the kind of book that while reading it every once in awhile I had to put it down and sit there staring into space while I shied away from and eventually absorbed what I had just read.  I’ve never read a book like that before.  It has fundamentally changed the way I see the world.

So for my next book I went a little lighter, or so I thought.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, by Neil Postman

This book was also really good, although since it was written in the 80s and dealt mainly with television and its effect on American culture, it was a little frustrating, because I wanted the author to apply that information to the internet.  Boorstin’s book was written in the 60s, but somehow it reached ahead of itself and still felt fairly current, or at least still very relevant.  Still, Postman made a lot of good points and it was good to ground myself in the theories that came about with the advent and rising popularity of television.  Postman founded a graduate program at NYU in Media, Culture and Communications which I would go to if I had all the money.

Next I went back to serious with:

Where Have All The Intellectuals Gone, by Frank Furedi

This book was extremely dense and required more concentration than any books I have read recently (aside from, perhaps, The Image).  It reminded me of being back in college again.  It really got going after the first few chapters and introduced a lot of really fascinating ideas about the modern American and European culture ‘of inclusion’ and the fact that nobody walks around saying “I’m an intellectual” anymore because they’d be ashamed to do that in the current anti-elite culture.  A little off-topic with regard to everything else I had been reading that was more about media theory and criticism, but a great read nonetheless.

I thought I would treat myself with a slightly less dense book after that, so I’ve just started:

Life:  The Movie:  How Entertainment Conquered Reality, by Neal Gabler

I’m only a few pages in and I’m already amazed at how often he has referenced Boorstin’s The Image, so I’m really glad I read that one early on.  I’m also realizing that I need to read some Marshall McLuhan.  Like, but how.  But I’ve still got another 4 books to go through before that, and I’ve also found a lot of really great-sounding books from this recent New York Times article. I mean, Jaron Lanier’s ‘You Are Not a Gadget’?  How awesome does that look?

Lots to read!  Lots to read!