This week, we revisit a classic Arthurian tale, savor the Middle Eastern pantry, and explore an influential work about how to conduct propaganda.
The Art of Deception
By Edward Bernays
This book shaped early ideas about how to conduct propaganda and had a huge influence on marketing, advertising, and later, politics. It’s very relevant for understanding the mechanisms behind what we see on the surface and beyond the deception and manipulation all around us.
Ig Publishing, 2004, 175 pages
Small Changes, Big Results
By James Clear
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement,” author James Clear wrote, emphasizing the importance of small changes and long-term thinking.
He likens the effect of a 1 percent change in one’s habits to a very slight adjustment to the nose of a plane. If a plane begins facing a few degrees off of its aim, it’ll arrive—after a long journey—at an entirely different location than planned.
A valuable book with principles that can be applied to any aspect of life that’s dependent on your behavior, from finance to fitness.
Avery, 2018, 320 pages
A Middle Eastern Pantry Primer
“Flavors of the Sun: The Sahadi’s Guide to Understanding, Buying, and Using Middle Eastern Ingredients”
By Christine Sahadi Whelan
Christine Sahadi Whelan is the culinary director and fourth-generation co-owner of Sahadi’s, New York’s James Beard Award-winning destination grocery store for Middle Eastern specialties.
So who better than Whelan to guide home cooks through buying and using ingredients such as sumac, Aleppo pepper, and date molasses? There are recipes for every course, along with plenty of ideas for incorporating these ingredients into existing favorites.
Chronicle Books, 2021, 352 pages
A Treatise on Public Education
“Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling”
By John Taylor Gatto
Gatto’s 30-year teaching career in Manhattan earned him the New York City Teacher of the Year award not once, but three times. Named New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991, he issued his resignation that same year.
His book is an eye-opening indictment of the state of our public education system that every parent needs to digest.
New Society Publishers, 2017, 144 pages
Life in the Gulag
“One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”
By Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Through the eyes of Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, we witness the cruelty of a Soviet labor camp. Falsely accused of spying, Shukov spends his days simply struggling to survive, working while sick, stealing an extra ration of food, and always being on the lookout for something to eat. The story is based on Solzhenitsyn’s personal experience, having spent eight years confined to such a camp. This book is a warning to all of us about totalitarian governments.
Berkley, 2009, 208 pages
A Strange Tale
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”
Set in the time of King Arthur, this story features a Green Knight, a wager, a beheading—in which the victim survives—temptations, and honor lost and regained. Having beheaded the Green Knight, Sir Gawain must promise to meet him in a year’s time so that the knight may return the blow. Chivalry, romance, and emblems of Christianity all play a part in filling out Sir Gawain’s quest and adventure. J.R.R. Tolkien, whose rendition is used here, was only one of several scholars who translated this late 14th-century poem into modern English.
Mariner Books, 2021, 256 pages
Spending a Day with a BIG Friend
“Danny and the Dinosaur”
By Syd Hoff
While visiting a museum, Danny wishes he could play with a dinosaur, and one of them obliges him. They watch a baseball game, visit the zoo, and play hide-and-seek with Danny’s friends. A sweet story of friendship, this book is a childhood classic.
HarperCollins, 2017, 72 pages
A Monkey, a Man, and an Endearing Childhood Tale
By H.A. Rey
In this first story of his adventures, Curious George swims in the ocean, slips out of jail, and goes flying on balloons. The Man in the Yellow Hat then adopts the monkey, leading to more adventures. This story is a delightful childhood tale.
HMH Books for Young Readers, 1973, 64 pages