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in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.

1. Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank, by Randi Hutter Epstein. I dare you to imagine a better cover image for a book than the one that appears on this screen to your left. It sure beats the hell out of random impressionistic paintings that used to adorn Penguin Classics, that’s for g-ddamn sure. Or the “inside the Terminator’s mind” aesthetic that dresses up most books about terrorism or spies. Or the “trippy textbook” vibe so familiar to those of us to grew up in the 1970s. Maybe it’s not as good as Catcher in the Rye, but, besides a dozen jelly donuts, what is?

2. Basic Economics 4th Ed: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, by Thomas Sowell. I do admire the cover of this bad-ass book about economics, though. Red and black, just like the French Revolution. That sh*t makes me think of Les Miz—-not Victor Huge’s novel Les Miserables, or course, but the Great White Way’s “Les” f*ckin’ “Miz” and all of the associated beach towels, extra-large black T-shirts, and soundtrack cassette tapes playing in all your friends’ moms’ cars in junior high. I quote: “Red/the blood of angry men. Black/my world when she’s not there. Red/the color of desire. Black/the color of despair.” That’s poetry, people.

3. Is Breast Best?: Taking on the Breastfeeding Experts and the New High Stakes of Motherhood, by Joan Wolf. The author of this book was tough enough to be like, “Hey! All you yuppie ladies with breast-pumps and sore nipples hanging out at La Leche League meetings are wasting your chai-tea sippin’, almond-milk drinkin’, yoga-mat carryin’, organic cotton-wearin’ time!” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s punk nonetheless.

4. The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human, by V. S. Ramachandran. What does make us human? Is it our ability to look beyond our animal needs—-food and shelter—-and create great works of art like Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant? Or the determination that enables us to ruin great albums like Metallica’s St. Anger with poorly-EQed snare drums? Perhaps it’s our courage in the face of adversity, like the time Mike Seager—-after a fight with dad Jason Seager and mother Maggie Seaver—-determined to live in his car in the garage on Growing Pains. Or perhaps it’s our readiness to admit, after many years of apartheid in the alternative nation, that Juggalos are people too. I’m not sure, but, any way you slice it, life’s no bed of artifical roses with soft faux-thorns. Instead, it’s a read bed of roses with real thorns that prick and prick and prick you when you’re trying to get some f*ckin sleep.

5. The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity, by Russell Roberts. Forget what Bono said: Whatever the price of everything is, it’ll be cheaper after New Years’ Day.