Next book

PLAY ANYTHING

THE PLEASURE OF LIMITS, THE USES OF BOREDOM, AND THE SECRET OF GAMES

A delightful book that promotes playfulness with a purpose.

Why the best way to happily take on the challenges of modern life is to turn them into games.

Bogost (Media Studies and Interactive Computing/Georgia Institute of Technology; How to Talk About Video Games, 2015, etc.) disputes the common view that playing games is merely a way to escape the trials and tribulations of life. Underlying the author’s narrative is his rejection of the popular idea that happiness and pleasure are the results of escaping from the pressures of life. For him, rules are what make games fun; they provide a safe space in which a player can explore new possibilities and opportunities. As the author notes, looking at things in unconventional and whimsical ways can replace—or at least enhance—the tedium of routine. These kinds of mental tests provide zest to life and are pleasurable for their own sakes. The author examines games through the lenses of many disciplines, including metaphysics, aesthetics, psychology, and, most prominently, philosophy. Take the case of the humble stick. Recently inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York, along with the skateboard and the baby doll, the stick was chosen because it is “very open-ended, all natural, the perfect price.” However, Bogost digs deeper and sees it a bit differently. Sticks have properties such as length, breakability, woodenness, and sharpness, which define their potential and thus, subtly, rules for their use. Rules limit the open-endedness by establishing possible spaces in which working within them evokes creativity. It is no longer simply escapism but “a kind of craftsmanship.” Freedom then becomes “an opportunity to explore the implications of inherited or invented limitations.” Limits also involve humility—not necessarily looking for happiness in ourselves but in pursuing greater respect “for the things, people, and situations around us.” Though some readers may think Bogost takes play too seriously, his arguments are thoughtful and useful for approaching ordinary experiences.

A delightful book that promotes playfulness with a purpose.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-465-05172-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

Next book

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Next book

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Close Quickview