Culture

Skip the Stress; Give Books

From Krauthammer to Coulter to Camarata, a fine crop is available for Christmas giving.

This year, Christmas shopping may be an especially welcome respite from the ugly events going on across the country, as mobs take to the streets because grand juries that examined evidence reached different conclusions from those reached by mobs who made up their minds without examining that evidence.

Perhaps more than in other years, shopping malls can become shopping mauls. One of the ways to make Christmas shopping less stressful is to give books as presents — after ordering them on the Internet. There is a good crop of new books to choose from this year, as well as some old favorites that can make good gifts.

For people concerned about current racial issues, Jason Riley’s new book Please Stop Helping Us cuts through so much of the current toxic rhetoric spread by politicians, hustlers, and media pundits. It is amazing how refreshing plain English and common sense can be, especially when backed up with hard facts that are seldom discussed in the mainstream media.

For parents who have a small child who is still not talking, at an age when other children have long since begun to speak, there is no better gift than the new book Late-Talking Children by Professor Stephen Camarata of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Professor Camarata has spent decades researching, diagnosing, and treating children who are late in beginning to speak. Moreover, he himself was three and a half years old before he began to talk. Parents going through the anguish of fearing for their children’s future will find this very readable new book to be like a ray of light piercing through the darkness.

For people who keep up with current events, and especially those who are worried about current trends in America and the dangers in the international arena, there are two truly outstanding books, written by different authors in very different styles, that each provide valuable insights and much wisdom, expressed in plain common-sense terms.

One of these books is Charles Krauthammer’s best-seller, Things That Matter. Anyone familiar with Krauthammer’s newspaper columns or television commentaries knows that he is the real deal and that whatever he says is worth thinking about, even if you may not agree with him on particular issues.

Another author and commentator in the same top-of-the-line category, but with a very different style, is Ann Coulter, whose latest book is Never Trust a Liberal Over 3. Behind her stinging wit and take-no-prisoners style, there is a lot of factual research and deep insights that cut through the pious cant and political hypocrisy that have become the norm in our times.

No need to spend time choosing between Krauthammer and Coulter. Get both books. If you have a friend who would prefer one style, then give the book that uses that style and keep the other one for yourself.

At a time when so many people are saying how “unfairly” income is distributed, and saying how politicians should “solve” that “problem,” Stephen Moore’s book Who’s the Fairest of Them All? can bring some much-needed sanity and facts to the issue. A lot of what is said, and repeated endlessly, collapses like a house of cards, once you know the facts.

My own new book this year is the fifth edition of Basic Economics, which includes a new chapter — the longest in the book — on international disparities in income and wealth. This chapter and a chapter on the history of economics itself are things you are not likely to find in other economics books. What you will not find in Basic Economics are the graphs, equations, and economic jargon that make so many other economics books unreadable.

For some people, a subscription to a high-quality magazine would be a better gift than a book. To me, the highest-quality magazine — and one of the most readable — is City Journal. It takes on some of the controversial issues of our times and offers a fresh, in-depth examination with hard facts, clear logic, and sharp insights.

Let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas, while we are still allowed to say that, in places where political correctness has not yet stamped out these words, lest we offend those who have come to live among us and who might resent our American traditions.

— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is www.tsowell.com. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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