What are you reading? Jan 23, 2013

by: plf515

Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:22:47 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.

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Just finished

Nothing this week

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.

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.

Just started
He, she and it  by Marge Percy. Really only a couple pages into it, but it's near future dystopian SF set on Earth.  

plf515 :: What are you reading? Jan 23, 2013
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Re-Reading (2.00 / 10)
I mainly read to escape. I am currently re-reading Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee series.

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

This week (2.00 / 9)
I've been kind of odd. I'm trying to get back to reading at least some fiction (it's hard to keep myself stocked in non-fiction honestly) but having only limited success.

Finished: Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon, which I give 6 stars out of a possible 5. Very timely for me because of a diagnostic process I'm going through and some of the reactions/reflections that's triggering in me.

Read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (book 2). Struck out with Lord of the Rings, now seem to be striking out with Harry Potter.

Read: The Archimedes Codes by Reviel Netz & William Noel. Non-fiction about Archimedes Codex C, a palimphset which was located in the 90's. Full & partial Archimedes texts copied in the first millenium (along with other ancient parchment texts) had been scraped and re-used for a middle ages prayer book. This is the story of the attempt to decipher some of the Archimedes text that exists nowhere else.

Just started: The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman. Again non-fiction, about the history of an very ancient Old Testament manuscript.

Coming next: The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch. Another attempt at fiction. Set in the 1660's, it appealed to me because I'm on an ancient manuscript kick.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

I am still working my way through Anglo-Saxon Somerset. (2.00 / 9)
It is forcing me to think about social change from the 5th through the 7th century in various parts of Britain. It is really difficult because we have so little in the way of written history, and most of the classic Anglo-Saxon archaeology comes from eastern England (East Anglia and Yorkshire).

If you can recommend any (2.00 / 7)
non-academic reading on that time period I'd love it. Doesn't have to be light reading, just looking for something that doesn't assume your level of knowledge of the field.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

[ Parent ]
That's hard. Let me have a think. (2.00 / 7)
So much of the literature is really dense and written by and for specialists. I do Like Wroxeter: Life and Death in a Roman City. Wroxeter is the one of the large roman towns that survived into the post-Roman period.  

[ Parent ]
Textbooks! (2.00 / 8)
working on my course outlines.


"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition"

Bernice Johnson Reagon

I tried to read Game of Thrones over the weekend (2.00 / 9)
and I couldn't do it.  The villains were all so BEYOND evil they were completely unbelievable - not a shred of humanity in any of them but Tyrion. It actually made me angry and I threw the (cheap, badly printed paperback) book down. I have never before mistreated a book in my life. At least it was onto the sofa, so it had a soft landing.

And this is from someone who slogged through all of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books.

Agreed. Hated them with a loathing I reserve for .... (2.00 / 6)
real historical villains like those Mongols who conquered and massacred Baghdad, not to go Godwin on you.

[ Parent ]
Hi ceriboo. (2.00 / 6)
Couldn't agree more with you assessment of "Game of Thrones". When the series premiered on HBO, I remember discussing it on Balloon Juice: I said that it was way to violent for me.  Well, several people advised I give it a chance so I bought the entire series and read them all. Grim determination.  What a harsh exercise in hopelessness, futility and relentless evil.

[ Parent ]
been re-reading some Terry Pratchett (1.60 / 5)
always a special favorite of mine.  

also lots of medical history, toxicology and serial murder reality (this is mostly to see how the police are botching it all up.  i don't go in for the gory and sensationalizing aspects of these cases.

maybe i might contribute a diary for ya sometime?  

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

Got any recommendations (2.00 / 6)
In the reality crime genre that are not gory or sensationalizing? I enjoy reading about investigative techniques, etc but not so much the Ann Rule/red & black cover slasher genre.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

[ Parent ]
Crime drama recomendations: (2.00 / 6)
While not an expert, generally read more nonfiction, I enjoy Colin Dexter's "inspector Morse" series and P.D. James (especially the Adam Dalgliesh series).

[ Parent ]
this is one everyone interested in (2.00 / 1)
forensic pathology should start with.


bear in mind that all of them will be gory in some way.  i'll try to recommend the ones that are more geared toward the science than the crime.  even the academic and non-sensational books are going to have much stomach churning (for most people) descriptions.  the ones i'll come up with, aren't going to be the ones that concentrate on the criminal and sensationalize the manner of the crimes.  they will describe the manner in which we try to read the victim's story through his or her body.

sound okay?  i'll put up more recommendations if this is agreeable to you all.

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

[ Parent ]
What do you think of the Gideon Oliver mysteries by Aaron Elkins? (2.00 / 1)
(He is a forensic anthropologist, which is a bit different and a lot less gory).  

There is also Dead Men do Tell Tales

"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 not familiar with Aaron Elkins' mysteries (2.00 / 1)
i'll have to try one.  most of what i read isn't fiction, i do stray into silly mystery territory just for laughs, but, for my own former field, i tend to stick to the non-fiction arena.  thanks for the suggestion, i'll see if one or two are available from the kindle library.  i'll then report back to you.  :-)

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

[ Parent ]
Elkins is an anthropologist who turned into a writer (2.00 / 1)
so at least he has the background.

The other ME type novels I can think of are the "Body Farm" novels.  

"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 have read a "body farm" novel (2.00 / 1)
mostly, however, what i read is non-fiction in the field of forensic science. thanks for suggesting the elkins books, i'll have to try one.  

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

[ Parent ]
Still reading (2.00 / 5)
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard

It is taking me almost as long to read this book as it did for him to go down the river. I am having a better time though and suffering far fewer bug bites.

i love reading about Teddy bill. (2.00 / 2)
i finished "the colonel" and Theodore Rex not long ago. haven't gotten to "darkest journey".  got sidetracked with the latest FDR biography.  

another interesting book, "the big burn" is about the Lolo National Forest conflagration and has lots of interesting insight into Roosevelt's establishment of the National Forest designations.  

Does the morgue wagon come with the job?

[ Parent ]
cool, thanks for the suggestions (2.00 / 2)

[ Parent ]
PBO's Inaugural. Seeking historical sources, allusions. Any suggestions (2.00 / 6)
So far the longest list I have found is below. Anyone know any others?

newyorker.com/online/blogs/hendrikhertzberg, which I type below as my embeds have a hight fail rate. anyway it's not firewalled.



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