What are you reading? Feb 23 2011

(1 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

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


In this diary on daily Kos I wrote about my dad.  He didn’t die that weekend, he died this morning.

I will be in and out today.

Carry on as usual.

Just finished

A re-read of Distraction by Bruce Sterling.  Cyberpunk SF.  Very good. Full review

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom.  A mystery set in England in the era of Henry VIII.  Very good.  And, it’s a series!

Now reading

The Inheritance of Rome: Illuminating the dark ages by Chris Wickham.  A really good history of Europe and western Asia, from 400 to 1000 AD.

This one is more or less on hold.  I need to pay more attention to it to keep track of all the unfamiliar names.  Right now, I am not in the mood for this sort of book.

The Great SF stories volume 1: 1939 ed. by Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg.  I have this whole series on my shelf and I think I will re-read them

Best Writing on Mathematics 2010 by Mircea Picci.  A collection of articles about mathematics.  Most of them are really great.  Math lovers will want this one.  (This book has disappeared on my shelves; I gotta find it)

Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases ed. by Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky.  A collection of now classic works on how people reason under uncertainty.

Washington: A life which I am reading on my new Kindle 2 (my old Kindle broke).  So far, it’s living up to the hugely favorable reviews, although the beginning was a bit repetitive about some aspects of Washington’s personality.

Just started

A re-read of Quicksilver, the first in the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson.  A huge novel (3,000 pages altogether) about all sorts of things related to the era of Newton and Leibniz.  Definitely worth a re-read.

Dark Fire by CJ Sansom. The second in the Matthew Shardlake series.  I like this one too.  (spoiler alert).  In Dissolution, Shardlake has been disillusioned with Cromwell (that’s Thomas, not Oliver), having learned that he did a lot of foul things.  But now he is drafted by Cromwell again.  

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks.  Subtitle is “tales of music and the brain” and that describes it well.  Written with Sacks’ typical clarity and humanity.

Charming Proofs.  A book of beautiful (or charming) proofs in mathematics, nearly all of which require no advanced math.


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  1. cervantes, sterne, and melville?  pfft.  Okay, sometimes I’ve read melville and  stevens.

    • RiaD on February 23, 2011 at 14:46

    read anything this week but blogs/news

    the essay on your dad was delightful. quite a man!

    thank you for introducing me to him. i wish i could’ve met him in person.

    peace to you & your family on his passing

  2. to Matt Taibbi, Friday night, on Real Time With Bill Maher, discussing the once-solvent state pension funds and the investment of these into the  fraudulent, criminal enterprise by Wall Street investment bankers of selling ‘pure toxin as AAA safe investments’, that I ran out and got his newest book, yesterday.  It hurts me so to add this bit, but I gotta say it.  I bought it at the local Borders, one of three closing their doors permanently in the county in which I reside in the Greater Tampa Bay Area.  It just hurt so bad to see the clerks I’ve known for years in there handling the ‘fire sale’ buying traffic, knowing their jobs, too, would soon be gone.  I cry now, as I did then, dwelling upon it. I’m just such a cry-baby.  

    Anyway, as I am sure everyone here knows, Taibbi’s book is  

    Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America.

    And he did add, Friday night on Bill’s show, that he has since learned that the Vampire Squid is really a cute, adorable, harmless little sea fellow.

    Once I’m done with Griftopia, I’ll get back to re-reading The Grapes of Wrath, written by an author who wouldn’t disapprove of a social injustice cry-baby, John ‘Pigasus’ Steinbeck.  

  3. out to you for losing your Dad. The reality of a parent dying is very hard even when you know it’s coming. A mixed  time of lives and the chains of time and love,. The dairy about your Dad was wonderful so universal and yet so personal. Take care.

    I just finished Stardust by Josef Kanon, a tale set in 1945 in Hollywood. The war is over and the political climate is moving towards the Red Scare, the new ‘war’ is beginning. It a murder mystery but also a political potboiler involving the studios, the unions, and the German emigre’s. I liked it it was timely as most fiction written now reflects the time were living in as well as the era it’s set in. This one more so as regards to what’s going on now. A good blending of fictional characters and real life characters from the era.

    I’m trying to get back into doing my art, so I’m rereading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. It’s a great book for all who create from writers to chefs or lapsed painters like me. I highly recommend it, even if your not in need of a jump start but just interested in the creative process of others or your own.

    Glad you are posting What are you Reading? here it speaking of time and continuity .    


    • TMC on February 23, 2011 at 22:23

    May the Goddess guide your Father on his journey to the Summerlands. May you, your family and his friends find Peace.

    Blessed Be.


    • triv33 on February 23, 2011 at 22:37

    Sounds like your Dad was a great guy.

  4. on the death of your father.  You wrote so beautifully about him.  May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.

    • rossl on February 26, 2011 at 06:28

    “War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning” by Chris Hedges

    and tons of stuff for my political science course I’m taking

    and blogs and such

    and then I’m just being lazy!

  5. My dad passed on two years ago last summer and even now, sometimes it doesn’t seem possible. Although it had been long anticipated, I discovered that no matter how much I prepared for this eventuality, there is simply much grieving that could only begin once he was no longer part of this world.  

    I coordinated a memorial service (long distance, almost 2000 miles away) in the area where he spent his first 50+ years and was pleasantly surprised at how many people attended his service on a beautiful fall day, even though he’d left the area more than a quarter of a century earlier. Even though I had three months to put it all together, it was far more difficult, and rewarding, I might add, than I had previously imagined.  

    The process required me to reach out to many of his friends and family members who I hadn’t seen for years and was astounded with some of the unexpected and pleasant stories that others shared with me. The many who knew him were akin to the five blind men all touching different parts of the elephant, each describing their own perceptions. I included as many of his close friends and relatives in the service as I could, so that each of us could share with each other the part of him that we knew.

    My hope was that all would come to know him even better than they had when he was alive.  I want to think that this was the case for most who chose to share that time with us.  The scheduling allowed others to make travel plans (and at the most beautiful time of the year in that part of the country), a chance to gather old pictures from those who had them, putting together a visual chronology of his life. And something for which I’ll forever be thankful — I was able to deliver a several-minute long eulogy without breaking down and being unable to continue, something that would have been impossible even a week earlier.

    We each find our own way to somehow adjust to such a difficult loss, ever realizing that the world will never seem quite the same again.  I realize that what I did may not work for everyone, and maybe only for a few, but I do think it behooves us to remember our loved one in a manner that will honor their lives and afford us comfort in the years ahead. I sincerely hope that you’ll be able to discover the best path for you, whatever that might be.

    As far as books are concerned, since the beginning of this year, I’ve completed a trilogy of English literature, beginning with D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, followed by Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” and most recently, Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.” England certainly had its own caste system, not to be outdone by India in this regard.  

    Of the three, Charles Dickens has always been my favorite. “Great Expectations” is a fantastic book, but I still think that his “A Tale of Two Cities” is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  

    May you find strength and comfort in the days, weeks and months ahead.

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