Middlemarch by George Elliot
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Angels of our Better Nature by Steven Pinker
How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
Worse Than War by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon
Henry IV by William Shakespeare
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
Anti-intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter
American Apostles by Christine Leigh Heyrman
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
The Infinitesmal:How a Dangerous Mathematical Theory Shaped the Modern World by Amir Alexander
Islam by Karen Armstrong
Perception and Imaging by Richard Zakia
The Proper Study of Mankind by Isaiah Berlin
The Empire of Cotton by Sven Neckert
Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs
What if? by Randall Munroe
Supreme Power: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Supreme Court by Jeff Shesol
The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley
Mad as Hell by Dominic Sandbrook
The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst and the Rush to Empire: 1898 by Evan Thomas
The Information by James Glieck
Heisenberg’s War by Thomas Powers
Challenger Revealed by Richard Cooke
Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
Liberty and Sexuality by David Garrow
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett
Browsings by Michael Dirda
The Rise of Southern Republicanism by Earl Black and Merl Black
Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt
The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark
Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall

  1. The window that opened so that I met Adele was small and brief.  Lucky me.
  2. Some other Korean child might have hit the top of the list instead of Rosie.  Again lucky me.
  3. Kai might have been a girl. 
  4. Paula might not have been reading The Courage to Be, which was my entry point to meeting her.
  5. She might not have been auditing that philosophy class, where I met her.
  6. She chose to sit near me.
  7. St. Olaf accepted me first.  That's one reason I went there.  Had I been accepted at, say, Hamline: no Leroy, no Paracollege, no Paula, no Kai, etc.
  8. I might have been on the ticket committee for my senior prom planning.  Then I wouldn't have ever met Debbie Bokholt.  Some other girl, maybe Carla Runge, would have been my first love.
  9. Mike McGoon might have never met or been interested in Linda Glatzmeier.  Then she might have been my first love.  Altogether different friends and activities and maybe college choices would have resulted.
  10. Our whole family history might have occurred ten years later.  AA appeared too late for my father.
  11. After not swimming in the ocean for years, I was nearly drowned in Acapulco by two large and unexpected waves.  A third wave might have changed everything.
  12. Had Nancy Anderson not spoken in church or had we missed that Sunday, we might not have adopted Phoenix Grace.  That would have been a bummer.
  13. Uncle Jimmy might have challenged me to be more specific than philosophy.  What if he had nudged me toward medicine or law?  Or carpentry?
  14. I might have been assigned to Butterfield's freshman seminar instead of Fjelstad's.  Then I would have never discovered the idea of the paradigm which occupied my thinking for decades.  And an altogether different set of friends.
  15. My father's alcoholism might have resulted in damage to someone outside of our family.  Then I might have been a carpenter.  And maybe happier.  Or not.
  16. My mother might have left my father.  He certainly deserved to lose her.
  17. I might have been a single child.  Wow.  Then my life would have been really different.
  18. I might have married Evangeline Braaten.  She tried hard enough to get my attention.  I wasn't ready for an adult relationship until I was thirty-two years old anyway.
  19. I might have gotten religion.  Improbable, but not unthinkable.
  20. I might have completed my training as a nurse.  Then I would have worked in hospitals instead of schools or corporations.
  21. Had I graduated five years earlier or five years later, I would probably have been able to find a job as a teacher.  Not in 1973, though.
  22. I could have been born a first or second child, losing all of those interesting third child dynamics.
  23. I might have been wounded or killed in Vietnam.  My SSS number was forty-nine after all.  Pretty low.  Or high, depending on your perspective.
  24. I might have taken that ride I was offered to go to Woodstock.  Then I would have had different stories to tell, not that there are many stories to be told about working at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  25. I could have dropped out of St. Olaf and moved to the cities earlier.  Again: no Leroy, no Paula, no Kai.
  26. I might have been best friends with David Feroe or Jeff Nicholson instead of Leroy.  Then I would probably have chosen a different career.
  27. I might have been adopted by a friendly, more tolerant, professor of philosophy rather than by Fred Stoutland who was no more impressed with me than my father was.
  28. Hundreds of thousands of people have died on the freeways during my career as a driver and I wasn't one of them.  Yet.
  29. Paula and I were in trouble with one another early on, long before we married.  We could have easily not married.  I might have enjoyed my twenties instead.
  30. I nearly moved to Detroit in my sophomore year to be nearer Joanie Albrecht.  Both of us could have been miserable.
  31. I might have discovered music, drawing or ceramics at St. Olaf.  Again: different jobs and different friends.