A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Who Understands Us Best?

Who understands us best?

The people --or computers -- who sell us stuff, of course!

(For those of us who buy a lot of books on Amazon, it is spooky seeing those suggestions!

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Rather than automatically buying books online via Amazon or Barnes & Noble, I recommend that one goes to It is a clearing house for books, music & movies (new & used.) You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that usually Amazon and B&N are NOT the best nor cheapest places to make your purchases.I have purchased many used items and have never gotten stung.It's worth the benefit to your wallet to check this out.

For what it's worth I always seem to find that the books Amazon France suggests for me are always more interesting and of a higher level than Amazon USA. Maybe because I only use the French outlet for patristics and classical scholarship -- but that's also most of what I buy at

A little while back Robert Alter recommended five books on the Bible. I made note of it and a few weeks later looked up one of these books at Amazon. When I did the other four appeared along side it. Hardly an accident.

The Amazon system sometimes does seem to have an uncanny grasp of what one is looking for. Sometimes it can go quite wrong, though. I was doing some research on rescue literature concerning nineteenth century children, and purchased a couple of books by James Kincaid. Amazon decided thereafter that I was looking for books about child abuse and pornography, with interesting results in my recommendations.

Okay, I'll up the ante:My top four Amazon recommendations.1. Satan: The Early Christian Tradition, by Jeffrey Burton Russell.2. Sex and the City: The Complete Fifth Season (video).3. Radical Evil: A Philosophical Interrogation, by Richard Bernstein4. The Lois Wilson Story: When Love is Not Enough: The Authorized Biography of the Cofounder of Al-Anon, by William BorchertBefore you get some judge in Indiana to put me on a three day psych hold:1 and 3 must have come up in connection with a course I'm teaching on complicity with evil, 2, is related to a program on "Sex and the City of God," we're putting on at ND next month, and 4 is connected to research I did for the Sopranos piece that's coming out in Commonweal next month.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment