Reader pick casts a new light on the nature of violence

Sandy Reul teaches Spanish classes at Fearrington Village and film classes for Duke University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Center. She is a member of the Spanish-language book club Compaginar, which meets bi-monthly at the Pittsboro Library.

Recommended read: The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker. It’s an amazingly well-researched book that explains how and why, despite current thought, violence has actually declined over long stretches of history. I was very surprised and impressed by Pinker’s argument.

Currently reading: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” by J. D. Vance and “The Flanders Panel” by Arturo Perez-Reverte.

Who or what taught you to love to read? When I was a little girl in Memphis my parents read to us nightly. I have fond memories of their reading us the “Little Golden Books” purchased from the grocery store. I also participated in the summer Weekly Reader program.

What favorite book from childhood have you kept?A Child's Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson. I believe this book, especially the poem “Travel,” inspired me to go abroad later in life. I have now traveled to more than 60 countries.

What is your favorite reading memory? I was on an eight-hour drive to the Ruby Mountains when I lived in Oregon. I was reading the last chapter of “Watership Down” by Richard Adams and was so touched that I refused to get out of the car until I finished the final pages!

What is your favorite book that nobody’s heard of?Ordinary Thunderstorms” by William Boyd, a recommendation of my London book friend Lesley Pearson.

Where do you go for book recommendations? Triangle Reads, my friends (many of whom are book club members), Amazon, and reviews in “The Wall Street Journal” and “The New York Times.”

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

Steven Pinker

Viking, 832 pages