What are you reading? Jan 16, 2013

by: plf515

Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:45:32 AM EST

For those who are new ... we discuss books.  I list what I'm reading, and people comment with what they're reading.  Sometimes, on Sundays, I post a special edition on a particular genre or topic.

If you like to trade books, try bookmooch

I've written some book reviews on Yahoo Voices:
Book reviews on Yahoo

plf515 :: What are you reading? Jan 16, 2013
Just finished

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham.  An admiring look at Jefferson and his need for power. It is a good biography, but did not live up to the reviews (which were very strong). Full review to come on Yahoo.

The irrationals by Julian Havil.  The history of irrational numbers, nicely presented. Not for the mathematically naive (lots of calculus). A bit over my head, but interesting.

Now reading
Cooler Smarter: Practical tips for low carbon living by the scientists at Union of Concerned Scientists, a great group. These folk make sense, concentrating on the changes you can make that have the biggest impact with the least effort.

Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Kahneman, most famous for his work with the late Amos Tversky, is one of the leading psychologists of the times. Here, he posits that our brains have two systems: A fast one and a slow one. Neither is better, but they are good at different things. This is a brilliant book: Full of insight and very well written, as well.

What hath God wrought? by Daniel Walker Howe. Subtitled "The transformation of America 1815-1848. I am reading this with the History group at GoodReads.  This is very well written, and does a good job especially with coverage of the treatment of Blacks and Native Americans.

The hard SF renaissance ed. by David G. Hartwell.  A large anthology of "hard" SF from the 90's and 00's. I think Hartwell takes SF a bit too seriously, but the stories are good.

On politics: A history of political thought from Herodotus to the present  by Alan Ryan. What the subtitle says - a history of political thought.  

Snakes can't run by Ed Lin
A mystery/police procedural set in NYC's Chinatown in the 1970s. "Snakes" is a slang term for illegal immigrants.

Just started
Far from the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity  by Andrew Solomon.
The title comes from the phrase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". This book is about apples (children) who did fall far from the tree (parents). This book got amazing reviews and it grabbed me from the opening:

"There is no such thing as reproduction. When two people decide to have a baby, they engage in an act of production, and the widespread use of the word reproduction for this activity, with its implication that two people are but braiding themselves together, is at best a euphemism to comfort prospective parents before they get in over their heads"

I don't agree with all that Solomon says, but this is a book to make you think about deep questions of humanity.

Rayburn: A Biography by D. B. Hardeman. A very admiring look at Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the House.  

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plf, I am so glad you posted this here. (2.00 / 15)
I just started Anglo-Saxon Somerset which I bought at the SHA conference last weekend. Other than that, I am reading applications to our PhD program.

I'd guess PhD applications might even be interesting (2.00 / 14)
but probably not in quantity.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
Nothing! (2.00 / 13)
I finished my little spy novel.  I need to make a library run today.  I am looking for Wolf Hall b Hillary mantel.  

That's one of the dozen or so books... (2.00 / 5)
I'm juggling at this moment. But I just saw a rather ominous ex libris on Twitter. Death is cutting you down; enjoy your book

Gulp. Back to work!

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Getting close to being done with (2.00 / 14)
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by
Candice Millard

Teddy loses as a Bull Moose.(Bully!) Teddy gets bummed. Friend talks him into going on an easy trip down the Amazon to get his mind off things. Teddy lets friend arrange the whole deal.

They get to South America and Teddy gets talked into changing the easy trip for one involving an unknown river.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ha (2.00 / 10)
I enjoyed that book. Been on a TR jag, starting with Douglas Brinkley's Wilderness Warrior.

[ Parent ]
It is a fun read (2.00 / 9)
I decided to read it after I had finished her really good James Garfield book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.

[ Parent ]
Still, (2.00 / 10)
mostly reading you.

And I like the work the authors are doing. :~)

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

Got a magnified (2.00 / 10)
And am currently attempting an actual book rather than a kindle book to see if I can use the library sometimes at least for hardbacks.

"A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes and the Eternal Passion for Books" by Nicholas Basbanes. If this works I might try a couple of his others. Of course "Gentle Madness" is available for kindle, but none of the others are.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

Just started (2.00 / 10)
Camino de Santiago in 20 Days by Randall St. Germain.

I had never heard of this book, certainly never bought it. The UPS guy just showed up and handed it to me.

The chapter titles at least are intriguing in a Tristram Shandy way:

Day 9: I felt no stirring from my penis whatsoever

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (2.00 / 9)
Susan Cain talks about how and why early in the 20th century the world started idolizing outgoing personalities and undervaluing introverts and the negative effects of that in our society. It's a fascinating read - especially for an introvert.

Currently reading... (2.00 / 7)
...a couple of obscure Victorian-era historical novels, both set in the 17th century. Lots of deep purple prose. :-)

There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

What am I reading?... (2.00 / 8)
Not as much as I'd like...Right now, The President's Club, fascinating. David Frum...Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again. I know I know, it's from the Evil Empire's side, but since he's one of the few conservatives making a little bit of sense, I wanted to understand his viewpoint a bit more. And last but not least, Alice I Have Been  

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"...."We make a Living by what we get...We make a Life by what we give."  

I'm not sure I've said Hi yet (2.00 / 8)
But welcome to the Moose: hope you find a home here

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

[ Parent ]
Thank You! (2.00 / 5)
I'm enjoying my purple adventure :o)  

"A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle"...."We make a Living by what we get...We make a Life by what we give."  

[ Parent ]
Read your opposition, (1.50 / 2)
buy - and thereby encourage - the sane opposition.

Whatever it is you are disagreeing with it is important to understand. More good in the world to be done that way than by agreeing even more.

Conservatives aren't always wrong, they just look that way in public.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I love these articles (2.00 / 8)
I wood contribute more, but - except during vacation time - my reading is instrumental, unfortunately. The reading is always about what I'm writing

On that score can I say what I'd like to be reading ?

Lawrence Wright  - Going Clear - published today

This is unavailable in the UK thanks to Scientology's financial muscle and our draconian libel laws that place the burden of proof on the defendant

Still hoping to score an ebook copy from some US pals. My book on the subject - Son of Scientology: Dad, L Ron, and Me - should be out by autumn  

The p***artist formerly known as 'Brit'

as soon as i get off my civil war kick (2.00 / 6)
i'm going to read The Infinite Tides, by Christian Kiefer (a local acquaintance):

Keith Corcoran has spent his entire life preparing to be an astronaut. At the moment of his greatness, finally aboard the International Space Station, hundreds of miles above the earth's swirling blue surface, he receives word that his sixteen-year-old daughter has died in a car accident, and that his wife has left him. Returning to earth, and to his now empty suburban home, he is alone with the ghosts, the memories and feelings he can barely acknowledge, let alone process. He is a mathematical genius, a brilliant engineer, a famous astronaut, but nothing in his life has readied him for this.

With its endless interlocking culs-de-sac, big box stores, and vast parking lots, contemporary suburbia is not a promising place to recover from such trauma. But healing begins through new relationships, never Keith's strength, first as a torrid affair with one neighbor, and then as an unlikely friendship with another, a Ukrainian immigrant who every evening lugs his battered telescope to the weed-choked vacant lot at the end of the street. Gazing up at the heavens together, drinking beer and smoking pot, the two men share their vastly different experiences and slowly reveal themselves to each other, until Keith can begin to confront his loss and begin to forgive himself for decades of only half-living.

The Infinite Tides is a deeply moving, tragicomic, and ultimately redemptive story of love, loss, and resilience. It is also an indelible and nuanced portrait of modern American life that renders both our strengths and weaknesses with great and tender beauty.

it's his first book, doing pretty well.

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

mea culpa (2.00 / 6)
linky: http://www.amazon.com/Infinite...

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

[ Parent ]
I just re-read Dick Francis, Flying Finish. (2.00 / 3)
Interesting view from 1966, think I have read all the Francis by this point. Love the British hero, always keeping his ethics despite outrageous events one would expect to lead the hero to break with them.

The quantity of text I consume in other mediums is large enough that I find solace in paper. Not a lot of serious print crosses my bow.

Scientific American is my one mainstay periodical anymore. Not what it once was, but still a good glance across the state of research.

Up in Canada over the holidays I visited the remnants of the library I compiled in the last decade, now in storage. I had converted an old camp dining hall into floor to ceiling shelves with an array of material, kept 36 boxes from that when we sold the place which are still in storage up there. The periodical collection is one of my favorites, fascinating glimpses of how we saw the world over time.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

Scientific American seems to go through phases (2.00 / 1)
30 years ago it was full of articles written for educated lay-people by leading scientists.

Then for a while it forgot about lay-people.

Then it dumbed down and forgot about leading scientists - many articles now are by journalists.

Still, it's a good read.  

"Most people worry about their own bellies and other people's souls when we all ought to worry about our own souls and others' bellies" Israel Salanter

[ Parent ]
I'm reading Memory of Light, by Bryan Sanderson and Robert Jordan (2.00 / 3)
I've read both The Wheel of Time series and The Fire and Ice books over the last year. I usually read non fiction and biography, so this has been a real change for me....and a great escape. I'll be sorry to say goodbye to the richly imaginative worlds the authors have created.  

Love is the lasting legacy of our lives

Hi all! (0.00 / 1)
just found this place, so glad i did.

i'd love to write a book diary some time.  you might remember me from a couple i wrote at the place that shall not be named.  i didn't write very many because the place had gotten to be somewhere i just never wanted to be anymore.  

great to be here with some new faces and some old.  hope to be a part of the community as soon as possible.

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?


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