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Rainn Wilson's Summer Reading List

I happily and nerdily admit I’m a huge fan of the US sitcom “The Office”. From the obliviousness of Michael Scott to the love story of Jim and Pam and all the crazy quirky characters and situations – I loved it all. OK, OK, at first, I wasn’t a fan when James Spader was cast as Robert California to replace Michael – but ultimately, I gave in and decided that Robert California was a brilliant move on the producers’ part.


Anyway, in the ultimate geek movement, I also follow quite a few of the actors who starred in the Office on social media. Why not? (I also follow an embarrassingly large number of other celebrities; I somewhat reluctantly admit.) And today on FB, Dwight Schrute – er, um, I mean Rainn Wilson, posted a picture of his “early summer reading list”, and I decided to delve into what he’s reading to see if any of the books might end up on my summer reading list, as well.


The books, in order that they are placed in the pile, from bottom to top are: “What the Buddha Taught” by Dr. Walpola Rahula; Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible”; “Great Glorious Goddamn of It All” by John Ritter; “Prescription for Living” by Dr. Bernie Siegel; and lastly (or firstly, if I had chosen to list the books from top to bottom) is John W. Vandercook’s “Black Majesty: The Slave who Became a King, the Life of Christophe, King of Haiti".

“What the Buddha Taught”: “This indispensable volume is a lucid and faithful account of the Buddha’s teachings” according to the Journal of the Buddhist Society. It is a simple and reliable introduction to the complexities of this religion. According to the reviews, if you’ve always wanted one volume that could provide a useful introductory book about the teachings of Buddha, this is most likely the book for you.


“The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible (Sacred Activism Book 2)”: Throughout the book, Eisenstein relates real-life stories showing how small, individual acts of courage, kindness, and self-trust can change our culture’s guiding narrative of separation, which, he shows, has generated the present planetary crisis. This one strikes a chord for me – for now it’s going on the top of my “to read” list.


“The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All” doesn’t release until September 2021. I guess Rainn got an advanced readers copy. (I can call him Rainn, right? I don’t know, maybe that’s a bit forward…) From singer-songwriter Josh Ritter, a lyrical, sweeping novel about a young boy's coming-of-age during the last days of the lumberjacks. In the tiny timber town of Cordelia, Idaho, everyone has heard tales of the Applegates. Local legend says their family line boasts some of the greatest lumberjacks to ever roam the American West, and from the moment young Weldon stepped foot in the deep Cordelia woods as a child, he dreamed of joining the rowdy ranks of his ancestors in their epic axe-swinging adventures. On his deathbed nearly a century later, Weldon Applegate recounts his life in all its glory, filled with tall tales writ large with murder, mayhem, avalanches and bootlegging. It’s the story of dark pine forests brewing with ancient magic, and Weldon’s struggle as a boy to keep his father’s inherited timber claim, the Lost Lot, from the ravenous clutches of Linden Laughlin. Braided with haunting saloon tunes and just the right dose of magic, The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is a novel bursting with heart, humor and an utterly transporting adventure that is sure to sweep you away into the beauty of the tall snowy mountain timber.


Since this book doesn’t get released until September, it’s going on my “first to be read when it’s released” pile.


“Prescriptions for Living: Inspirational Lessons for a Joyful, Loving Life”: According to Dr. Siegel himself, "This book is a continuation of the work I began when I became Bernie. It is a collection of stories about how to deal with life's difficulties. Most of the people in these stories have not had the great wake-up call; that is, they are mot facing life-threatening illnesses. So, in a sense, this book is preventive medicine. It is a prescription for living that gives you effective and healthy ways of dealing with the adversity that occurs in everyone's life. I want to help you learn to accept your morality before something catastrophic brings you face-to-face with the end of your life."


Yep, getting added to the pile.


Black Majesty: The Slave who Became a King, the Life of Christophe, King of Haiti" was published originally in 1963. It seems to be out of print; sadly, MVLS doesn’t carry it; and I couldn’t find very many descriptions about what the book is about. (I wonder how Rainn, er, um, Mr. Wilson got a copy?) There’s a hardcover copy of it for sale on Amazon for $902; the same seller is also offering a paperback version for $3.25… Ahhhh – Amazon, how you confuse me so…) A partial description from the Google page listing says “This book describes the Haitian slave rebellion and the Haitian war against colonial France during the early 19th century. The book goes on to describe the civil ...” I can take an educated guess that the next word in that sentence is “war”. There’s quite a bit of information online about the person, Henry Christophe, who did become the first (and only) monarch of the Kingdom of Haiti.


I know next to nothing about the Haitian revolution / civil war, and I can definitely expand my knowledge about that, as well as King Henry Christophe. Sadly, as far as the availability of this book, goes, it won’t be getting added to my “to be read” pile.


Are there actors or celebrities that you follow on social media? Would you be interested in seeing their reading lists? Let me know in the comments!


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