What are you reading?

The usual list, this time, as I will be out a lot today.

If you would like to guest host on April 11, please let me know.  I will be guest hosting Frugal Fridays.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights

pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights, but it’s on hiatus

What are you reading? is crossposted to docudharma

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know.  Next week, I am thinking of “books that explain America”

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh.  What an annoying book.  Singh has a problem: He doesn’t understand Wiles’ proof of the theorem.  That’s not his fault….maybe 100 people on Earth understand it.  I certainly don’t.  But he is to blame for, e.g., getting facts wrong, and his overly gushy writing turns me off.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Stunningly good.  This is really three  or four novels, tied together.  It all does connect.  Novel 1 is set at the time of WW 2, and follows Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, and his friend Alan Turing, in efforts to decode German and Japanese codes, and do other neat stuff (fall in love….).  Novel 2 also takes place in WW 2, and features Goto Dengo, an honorable and intelligent Japanese soldier, placed in intolerable situations by the exigencies of war.  Novel 3 (or 2A) is also in WW 2, and follows the adventures of Bobby Shaftoe, a gung ho marine.  Novel 4 is in the near future, and features Avi, who wants to create a data-haven (and use the profits for a very good and interesting cause) – one of his colleagues is Randy Waterhouse (grandson of Lawrence) who is in love with America Shaftoe (grand-daughter of Bobby); one of his investors is Goto Dengo, now an old and very rich businessman.

Along the way we learn about cryptography, geology, mining, spying, mathematics….. along with the old standbys like the nature of love, duty, and honor.  

My third time through this huge book.  It won’t be my last.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  A fascinating and very well-written biography of a fascinating man (hey, get this! He thought Black people might be as smart as Whites….he opposed slavery….he fought valiantly in the Revolution….)

Gaming the vote: Why elections aren’t fair (and what we can do about it) by William Poundstone.  Fascinating.  This isn’t about cheating or hanging chads or butterfly ballots, it’s about fundamental flaws in our system of voting, and proposed alternatives.

some technical stuff:

Digital Dice: Computational solutions to practical probability problems by Paul Nahin

Lattice: Multivariate data visualization with R by Deepayan Sarkar.  Sarkar won a prize for writing Lattice, now he’s explained how to use it.


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    • plf515 on March 28, 2008 at 11:38 am

    tell us what you’re reading.

    Sorry for not being around DocuDharma much…. I’ve been busy with dailyKos, SwingStateProject, a couple math blogs, oh…. and meatspace life

    I will be out most of the morning but will check back when I can

  1. and finished book 3 of Steven Ericson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This book, Memories of Ice, has taken me over a week to finish. I liked it, as I like the previous 2, but each book is 600 to 900 pages. Pretty good sword & sorcery.

    Wiki article HERE.

  2. Last week NPR ran a story about social networking sites that are about books in your library.  I heard the story and then went looking for the sites, coming up with LibraryThing and goodreads.

    Library Thing has a feature that lets it recommend books for you after considering what’s in your library.  This is interesting, helps you find books you probably don’t know about but might like.  And in Goodreads you can start small “groups” that will discuss topics you like.  Anyway, these are interesting sites.

  3. Ramage series.

    From Patrick O’Brian to CS Lewis, etc. etc., I’m a sucker for about the British Navy during the Napoleonic era.

    If you are looking for a great read on the Revolutionary War from the British perspective, I highly recommend

    The Long Fuse: How England Lost the American Colonies 1760-1785

    A highly entertaining and instructive history about Imperial politics that has a lot of relevance to today.

    • pico on March 28, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I think we had this discussion in a previous thread somewhere, but I found it a pretty insufferable book.  The history of WWII cryptography is interesting enough, but I found the novel badly written, badly plotted, and just plain bad.  I only finished it because I feel guilty whenever I don’t finish books (I can count the ones I’ve thrown away in disgust on one hand).  

    Everyone tells me Snowcrash is a hundred times better (and a hundred times shorter), so when I don’t feel so negative towards Stephenson, I may pick it up.

    For now, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.  😛

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