25 September 2010

Book Review: Why Our Decisions Don't Matter

Title: Why Our Decisions Don't Matter
Author: Simon Van Booy
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Release Date: 24 August 2010
Date Finished: 11 September 2010

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Non-Fiction Five,

Why Our Decisions Don't Matter is a thought-provoking text challenging common perceptions about free will and personal choice. Using selections from a variety of sources, Van Booy presents arguments without expounding upon them heavily. The book is clearly designed to leave interpretation up to the reader.

For me, reading this was like getting snapshots of other texts I loved, texts I read in college when I was still "smart." Kerouac, Sartre, Camus, Russell, Wittgenstein, Plato, the list goes on and on. If I had to pick a favorite entry, it would be the selection from When Science Meets Religion by Ian Barbour...or Colin McGinn's Shakespeare's Philosophy...or..seriously, the text is full of intriguing, well-written, and clear additions to the debate. I actually have so many sticky notes in the text, the pages won't lay flat.

Despite the high level of thought, the text is remarkably easy to interact with. The selections are clear and to-the-point which is something I appreciate in a philosophical text because while I love to ponder the ideas presented, I'm really not a fan of having to wrestle with the language to get at the ideas.

I have Van Booy's Why We Love and Why We Fight on my TBR shelves, and I can't wait to read them.

This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

HarperCollins; The Rumpus (a review set up like a graphic novel...awesome); Gutenberg Girls;


  1. Not my cup of tea, but you make a convincing case to try it with your review. Thanks Trisha.

  2. I keep hearing about Van Booy lately and I can't wait to read something by him soon..

  3. I loved all of these books! They're a great little collection to have! I reviewed them a little while ago:


  4. That is so funny about when you were still smart! I feel the same way! (not about you, LOL, about me!)

  5. Sounds really good. I feel the same way about my reading since I stopped going to school - way less smart :)

  6. Jenny Girl - I'm glad I at least gave you pause. :)

    Iris - This was my first Van Booy, but as it was primarily a compilation of others' writings, I can't give a true opinion on Van Booy himself.

    Bethany - I can't wait to read the other two!

    Jill - I was such the intellectual in college...now, not so much. :)

    Kim - Stupider and stupider every year right? :)

  7. I'm glad to see you found a lot to interest you in this book. I've got to pick it up some day soon :)

  8. Hmm, interesting. I didn't realize Van Booy wrote nonfiction! I adore his short stories. I'll have to check these other books out. I'm sure they're quite different, but I'm willing to give it a shot!

  9. Amy - You definitely should get a copy!

    Erin - I've never read his short stories, but I want to now.

  10. I'm just now noticing your Buy Borrow Accept Avoid ratings--is that a new thing? Not always the most perceptive person but I like it!

    To be honest, I didn't really like reading stuff like this in college--maybe because I was reading secondary works on top of everything else that I was having to read--sometimes over 1,000 pages a week. But now that life is slower I think I'd like to read something like this--and I like the idea that it's accessible. Nothing worse than literary crit that is bogged down in language and obscure theory (Bloom!!).


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