So I know it is seasonal and traditional to tell our readers what to buy their loved and liked ones for Christmas. The problem with coming up with such a list is that I might disappoint you with how minimal or how banal my reading has been this year. Another is that I might tick off those I leave off. I have chosen, to avoid those problems, a shamelessly self-promotional theme.
First off, I really and truly believe that the best little book—a genuine stocking stuffer—you could give is the collection of Pope Benedict XVI’s September speeches edited by Marc Guerra. Perfectly entitled Liberating Logos, this is the best introduction for anyone you know longing to know what Christmas really means, with the word becoming flesh and so forth. At no extra charge, a very charming introduction by the legendary James Schall is included. Liberating Logos is the gift that keeps on giving for anyone suffering from Benedict-withdrawal syndrome. Or for anyone who wishes we could always have a philosopher-pope, a pope who knows and understands so much and can write in such a clear yet penetrating way. At merely $16 at Amazon, you could lowball some of your more annoying friends without generating any criticism. And the true meaning of Christmas really is reflected in gifts that are inexpensive but classy and deeply personal.
Another unexpected bargain is The Science of Modern Virtue, edited by Marc and myself. This book is a comprehensive and deeply philosophical introduction to the thought and contemporary cultural and political influence of Descartes, Locke, and Darwin. It includes essays by ME, Marc, our Ralph Hancock, Jim Stoner, Tom Hibbs, Paul Seaton, Lauren Hall, Sam Goldman, Craig Tobin, ”Darwinian Larry” Arnhart, Jeff Bishop, and Sara Henry. Each of these singular provocations originated as a talk at the first Stuck with Virtue conference at Berry College, an event unrivaled in recent years as a display of foundational wisdom and even liberating logos. At $28.95 at Amazon (for a beautifully produced hardback), it is an amazing number of words per buck.
AND there is my Allergic to Crazy. This is an endlessly entertaining and stunningly diverse collection of easy-to-read moments in the history of my brain. It is already a cult classic. But one problem is that the cult at this point could easily fit in my office. This is the book for the people you know who spend a lot of time sitting in the bathroom or on the subway or who suffer so profoundly from the dreaded syndrome of attention deficit that they need something to read at stoplights. It is also great for young parents or elderly grandparents stuck with pretending to watch their kids ride the bench at basketball or hockey. At $21.60 for 400 pages at Amazon, it’s an even more amazing numbers of words per buck.
A really nice gift—but still inexpensive enough—would be all three of these. Each is filled, in its own way, with liberating logos. And each is allergic to all forms of crazy.