Scott was trying to tell me about a book, but he couldn’t remember the title—all he could manage was that it was called “In Praise of [some word LIKE ‘whipping,’ but NOT ‘whipping’].” I went to Amazon and did a search for “In Praise of,” and while I did not find the book he was talking about (chiefly because the book he was talking about was actually called “In Defense of Flogging” ), I did find evidence that beginning a book title with the phrase “In Praise of” is very popular indeed.
Naturally, I scrolled through the first 20 pages and compiled a list of the things authors have deemed sufficiently praiseworthy as to demand a book-length volume devoted to said praise. I included only the books whose titles followed a specific format: “In Praise of _____.” This excluded, for instance “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women” (just as well, as I cannot abide Ms. Wurtzel) and similar constructions, of which there were also quite a few.
I’m not going to explain to you why I spent part of my afternoon scrolling through Amazon results to compile this list of Praiseworthy Subjects (though yes, now that you mention it, I WAS avoiding something more pressing, however did you guess?) because surely my hobbies are my own affair. I won’t judge your participation in an Ultimate Frisbee League, and in turn I’d appreciate you reserving comment on the two hours I recently spent with the Wikipedia entry for “List of People Who Were Beheaded.”
A List of Things Authors Have Felt Compelled to Praise in Book Form:
Reading and Fiction
The New Knighthood
The Free Market and Peace
The Cognitive Emotions
Plato’s Poetic Imagination