About

I have been a book reader all my life.  If there has been one constant in my life it has been my life-long habit of reading.  Thus the name of this site is The Constant Reader. And in the same vein,  its domain name  is Watching the Canary in the Cage.  The idea behind the Canary Cage is that perhaps the great books of our times are a kind of canary which may give us some indication of what is coming down the pike in the future.

In my lifetime of book reading, much of it has been far from the cutting edge of anything. I’ve read my share of mysteries and thrillers and adventure and romance books.  But I’ve also read a good share of classic literature, contemporary science, history, politics, economics and bunches of other great and not so great stuff.

My career has been pretty scattered.  I was a college English teacher for six years.

Then I was the owner, with my wife, of a handcrafted pottery business for twenty-five years.  That turned into a small-business with ten to fifteen employees that we sold  in 1995.

After that I was a landscape photographers for twenty years.  I shot mostly landscapes of American wilderness, national parks and whatever I found that, in my eyes, was wild, natural  and beautiful.  I spent a lot of years traveling from national park to national park, from scenic overlook to scenic overlook and from one art show to the next.   This was probably the happiest time of my life; I loved being a landscape photographer.   Here is my photography website and here is my photography blog.

Now-a-days I’m retired and spend most of my time reading, writing, biking and drinking coffee with friends.

All through this odd assortment of careers, I read constantly and consistently.  My politics have always been liberal.  And my reading has been tending more and more to trying to understand what is really going on in this rapidly changing and confusing contemporary world that we live in.  So, I have gravitated more and more  to popular books on science, economics and history.

I’m not an expert in any of these fields.  But I think I’m a good picker of the best popular books on these subjects.  And I think I’m aware of at least some of the important trends in these disciplines in a general, if not a professional way.  Also, I’m beginning to see a lot of connections between disciplines that I think are very interesting and revealing.  More and more I am finding it very interesting to write about these interconnections.

I’m a strong believer that books are the backbone of human civilization, all the way from the time when human culture changed from an oral culture to a culture which expressed its best (and worst) ideas in writing to our contemporary culture where writing (and most everything else) is moving to the internet.  I tend to think that it is human culture, especially as it is found in writing and books that is responsible for what humans and their brains have become.  This is not just my idea; it is one that is becoming more and more accepted in contemporary cognitive science.

I’m also a strong believer in the importance of tolerance between different people and between different ideas.  And this has led me to being a strong believer in pluralism,  the idea that many very different and even conflicting ideas can coexist at the same time peacefully and profitably.   I think that some form of pluralism is going to have to become a reality in our modern world for the simple reason that if we continue much longer in the direction we are heading, there may not be a modern world or any kind of a human world for much longer.

I suspect that these ideas will be expressed in many of the book reviews and summaries that I publish on this site.  However, I also try to be faithful to the ideas of the authors of the books I review.

And, of course, I will continue to read for just as long as I possibly can, probably long after I’m able to write intelligently.  Please let me know when I’m no long writing intelligently. Use the comment box on this site, that’s what it’s there for.  I love comments and will publish all of those that are expressed in a civil manner.

One final note.  Since I am still very interested in my old profession, landscape photography, and in the wild and beautiful places of America, both of these things manage to find its way into this blog.  I finish even the most abstract of my blogs with a favorite picture.  I enjoy writing articles about both photography and the great scenic locations of America.  And since I also spend a lot of time biking and often travel to bike in scenic locations, posts about biking also sneak into this blog.  My hope is maybe some of these articles will leaven my more abstract pieces.

If you made it this far in this long introduction to this blog, thanks for your patience.   And thanks for your patience with my posts if you manage to read any.  I try to make them short and sweet, but somehow I seem to find it difficult.  Sorry.

Fred Hanselmann
April, 2017

 

 

 

Fred Hanselmann

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Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.  Picture by Hanselmann Photography.