Chris Knight walked into the central Maine woods in 1986 at the age of 20, and didn't talk to another human for 27 years. He survived by stealing whatever he needed from nearby cabins, and by developing some of the most impressive stealth bush-craft skills I've ever read about. He found a niche, and he occupied it. Comprised largely of interviews conducted in jail after Knight's arrest, this book is a fascinating and compelling rumination on what it means to crave solitude in a world that won't leave you alone.
What is empathy, exactly? Is it the cure for all our social ills? Is it a skill to be acquired or something inherent in us all? Cris Beam addresses all this and more in her brilliant investigation into, and interrogation of, empathy. She approaches the topic with skepticism and curiosity, beginning with the more cynical use of empathy to describe how data mining allows companies to make us feel they empathize with us as they offer us things they think we want. She goes on to visit a courthouse experimenting with justice based on restitution vs. retribution here in the U.S., looks closely at the scientific research on mirror neurons, and interviews students in South Africa about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And she shares stories from her personal life that relate beautifully to the material. I learned a lot from this book, but it also touched me deeply. Take a chance.