What are you reading? Feb 6, 2013

by: plf515

Wed Feb 06, 2013 at 05:55:14 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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plf515 :: What are you reading? Feb 6, 2013
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.  

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.  Hardeman has an odd but readable style, mostly in that he overuses this structure "the" (adjective) (state adjective) form (e.g. "the crusty Texan", "the wily Missourian") to an extent that's almost comical.

He, she and it http://www.powells.com/biblio/... by Marge Percy. Really only a couple pages into it, but it's near future dystopian SF set on Earth.

Just started

A reread of Ringworld by Larry Niven, an SF story about a world that is a ring around a sun.

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I am currently reading (2.00 / 9)
Double Passage: The Lives of Caribbean Migrants Abroad and Back Home, by anthropologist George Gmelch

http://www.amazon.com/Double-P...

Based mainly on oral histories of 13 Barbadians who migrated to Britain and North America, this book argues cogently that the experiences of these migrants and the forces influencing them are more diverse than most studies assume. Gmelch ( The Irish Tinkers: Urbanization of an Itinerant People ) writes smoothly, first explaining the history and culture of Barbados, then analyzing patterns of West Indian migration. Clearly a sensitive interviewer, Gmelch has elicited insightful stories: one migrant to England found Africans more prejudiced than whites; another returned with a newfound sense of her black identity, and a student in Canada made a lifelong friend of a classmate. Particularly interesting are the thoughts of leading Barbadian journalist John Wickham, who returned to decry his country's ``rampant nationalism,'' and of calypso musician The Mighty Gabby, who gained his political education in Manhattan's garment district and returned home a protest singer. Gmelch concludes by exploring trends in his subjects' experiences; unlike most social scientists, he concludes that return migrants do contribute new ideas to their home society

It is an excellent ethnographic  study - those engaged in the immigration debate here often forget to include  immigrants who are not Latino, and  many social analysts fail to examine migration to Canada and Britan.

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

Bernice Johnson Reagon


At the moment I am reading lots of articles on the (2.00 / 8)
initial settlement of North America by Native Americans. I am doing a reading course with a grad student and another faculty member in our department. We hope to develop this into a real course in 2014-15.

Fun reading (2.00 / 8)
Mission To Paris by Alan Furst
Spy novel set in Paris at the start of WWII
I am a fiction reader.  The news is all the nonfiction I can take.  Whenever I read these diaries I am jealous of all the book learning you guys are doing but then I remember that I'll never make it all the way through those books.    

i read sci fi for fun (2.00 / 6)
i have tried a bit of lit.  

[ Parent ]
I feel the same way (2.00 / 6)
The only nonfiction I read (listen to, actually) is history when I can find a book that's as readable as good fiction.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
Currently reading (2.00 / 7)
Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman. Fascinating snippets about very odd studies in psychology.

I've been fascinated lately by books on old books/documents lost and then found. Recently finished nonfiction titles on this theme include:

The Archimedes Codex by Reviel Netz & William Noel
The Aleppo Codex by Matti Friedman
Out of the Flames by Lawrence & Nancy Goldstone
The Voynich Manuscript by Gerry Kennedy & Rob Churchill
Lost Rights by David Howard
The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen

When I finish my current book I'm going to make another stab at reading some fiction. This time I've found a couple of British and Historical (and British Historical) mystery series and bought the first in each series. We'll see.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013


Really? Me too! (2.00 / 5)
I devour books about documents, artifacts, and artworks lost and found!

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
One of my favorites of that type... (2.00 / 4)
...is Thomas Hoving's King of the Confessors. Hoving was director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the book is all about the museum's acquisition of a stunning ivory crucifix from the Middle Ages with a very mysterious history. It's got a lot of the detective story feel to it as well as plenty of art history, and (depending upon the edition) some gorgeous photos. :-)

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

[ Parent ]
I hesitate to recommend (2.00 / 5)
fiction to a nonfiction reader, but here goes.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Weird title or no, to me it was delightful.

People of the Book
by Geraldine Brooks. I liked it a lot but YMMV. Reviews at http://www.amazon.com/People-B...

The entire Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I've read the whole series of umpteen books, in order. Amelia is an early 20th century Egyptologist and a force to be reckoned with. The first two in the series are Crocodile on the Sandbank and The Curse of the Pharaohs.

I listen to eight or ten books a month, sometimes more. I'll stop now; these were chosen at random. I'll try to avoid showering you with recommendations.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.


[ Parent ]
I recently read the Guernsey book, and.. (2.00 / 5)
...it gave me "big book" enjoyment for such a relatively slim volume. "Delightful" is just the word for it! :-D

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

[ Parent ]
I'm an English major (2.00 / 7)
I read what's assigned :).

At the moment? Wordsworth for my Romanticism class, Philip Larkin for my contemporary Poetry class.

This isn't a complaint; I love this stuff. Especially Wordsworth. Though I do have a Wordsworth paper due Friday, which isn't as much fun as just reading him--assuming it doesn't snow a foot on Friday, which it might :).


Try being an English Professor ;) (1.67 / 3)
We read what we think you should be assigned to read, based on our own quirky criterion.

I am currently reading Bruno Latour's "Pandora's Hope" and Michel Serres' "The Parasite." I'm not reading any fiction right now since I have no time between primary text, secondary texts, and secondary critical articles. Bah humbug. I am, however, trying to read a bit of Kafka to pass off as academic which will happen. Oh, and I just reordered a copy of Primo Levi's The Periodic Table to read again and integrate into my current writing project.

I'd love to re-read Aldous Huxley's Brave "New World." Perhaps over Spring Break.  

I read short bits of things all the time when walking across campus. Yesterday, I read a chapter from Micho Kaku's "Visions: How Science will Revolutionize the 21st Century," a chapter from Sven Birkerts' "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age," and also the introduction to Yi-Fu Tuan's "Escapism." These were with a future class I have in mine.

For work, I have to read Derrida's "The Animal that Therefore I am" at least two more times. It's a lovely read. Derrida can be quite dense.

For pleasure reading, I'd like to read, in addition to the aforementioned, more of Philip K. Dick's shorter works, Mary Shelley's the Last Man, and I am dying to read David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" already. Also, more from Bessie Head. And someday I will finish Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow." My mistake? Trying to read it at age fourteen. Ouch. Also, trying to get to Jean Rhys' "The Wide Sargasso Sea" for far, far too long.

I try to read poetry daily at least, and usually read secondary criticism all the time.  


[ Parent ]
Try being an English Professor ;) (2.00 / 3)
We read what we think you should be assigned to read, based on our own quirky criterion.

I am currently reading Bruno Latour's "Pandora's Hope" and Michel Serres' "The Parasite." I'm not reading any fiction right now since I have no time between primary text, secondary texts, and secondary critical articles. Bah humbug. I am, however, trying to read a bit of Kafka to pass off as academic which will happen. Oh, and I just reordered a copy of Primo Levi's The Periodic Table to read again and integrate into my current writing project.

I'd love to re-read Aldous Huxley's Brave "New World." Perhaps over Spring Break.  

I read short bits of things all the time when walking across campus. Yesterday, I read a chapter from Micho Kaku's "Visions: How Science will Revolutionize the 21st Century," a chapter from Sven Birkerts' "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age," and also the introduction to Yi-Fu Tuan's "Escapism." These were with a future class I have in mine.

For work, I have to read Derrida's "The Animal that Therefore I am" at least two more times. It's a lovely read. Derrida can be quite dense.

For pleasure reading, I'd like to read, in addition to the aforementioned, more of Philip K. Dick's shorter works, Mary Shelley's the Last Man, and I am dying to read David Foster Wallace's "Infinite Jest" already. Also, more from Bessie Head. And someday I will finish Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow." My mistake? Trying to read it at age fourteen. Ouch. Also, trying to get to Jean Rhys' "The Wide Sargasso Sea" for far, far too long.

I try to read poetry daily at least, and usually read secondary criticism all the time.  


[ Parent ]
I read 'Wide Sargasso Sea" many years ago. (2.00 / 3)
Can't remember much about it except that it was beautifully written. Should probably pick it up again. :-)

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

[ Parent ]
finished Neal Stephenson's Zodiac (2.00 / 6)
on my last trip. About halfway through thinking fast and slow.  Reading Getting Wasted by T. Vander Ven and Max Plus at Work for my research.

Haven't read 'Zodiac' but... (2.00 / 4)
...I really loved his Analemma, and the Baroque trilogy.

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

[ Parent ]
i started with Cryptanomicon, (2.00 / 3)
which I recommend if you liked the Baroque cycle.  There's some interesting overlap.  Snowcrash and Reamde are also excellent.

[ Parent ]
Thanks! (2.00 / 2)
I believe that the friend from whom I borrowed the others also owns Crypta-whatever. I'll ask him to lend it. :-)

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

[ Parent ]
heh. (2.00 / 2)
ida thought it'd be easier to copy and paste Cryptanomicon that to type Crypta-whatever!

[ Parent ]
LOL (2.00 / 2)
Indeed it would have been easier. But I think it would have lacked the same impact, or je ne sais quoi. ;-p

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

[ Parent ]
Indeed (2.00 / 3)
Three comments would not have been made!

[ Parent ]
I am a big Stephenson fan (2.00 / 3)
I liked all his books except Big U, which even he didn't like (really).

Each of his books is different, although many are in the same style. Cryptonomicon and the Baroque Cycle overlap a bit, both have a lot of asides (the right way to eat Captain Crunch!). Anathem is very different; it might not even really be a novel. His earlier books are more traditional.  

"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 actually kinda liked the big u. (2.00 / 3)
Spent some years at big u's and saw the book one the experiences.

[ Parent ]
Thanks... (2.00 / 1)
...for the gentle correction. I felt I had the title of Anathem wrong somehow, but was too befuddled to pay proper attention. :-)

I guess I REALLY need to get hold of Cryptonomicon, now that two of you have mentioned its similarity to the Baroque Cycle, which really captivated me.

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


[ Parent ]
Cryptonomicon moves a lot faster (0.00 / 0)
and is a lot closer to a traditional novel format.

review of Cryptonomicon

review of Anathem

"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 ]
yesterday at the library, (2.00 / 6)
I picked up an old (1993) Ian Rankin book Witch Hunt. Suspense-thriller, sort of Rankin meets John LeCarre (ha! diacritical marks that look just fine in typing don't transition to Preview). A reference early on to how a character was so advanced he was able to use a laptop, with a modem!!, made me chuckle.

There was a terrific interview this morning on the Diane Rehm show with the bigorapher of Rosa Parks, which is also mentioned in Denise's diary about her. So that goes on my list. Linkie to radio: http://thedianerehmshow.org/sh...

Even if the voices aren't real, they have some pretty good ideas. -- Anonymous


I just downloaded audiobook (2.00 / 5)
Doors Open by Ian Rankin and added four more Rankin books to my wish list. That makes it easier to find them when I want to read more.

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

[ Parent ]
Where men win glory by Jon Krakauer (2.00 / 5)


Time for brownies (2.00 / 5)
and Breyer's vanilla ice cream and more Rachel and whichever kitteh shows up. G'night ev'ybuddy. It's been fun!

Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

Started reading The Life of Pi (2.00 / 3)
I know, late to the party on that one.

Not quite sure if I have ever read anything like it so far, rather enjoying it.


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