Books we like
05-17-2015, 11:21 PM,
Books we like
A few weeks ago, a Haleyfan recommended a book to the rest of us here on this site. I apologize: I don't remember the name of the book or who suggested it, but at the time it reminded me that I've long toyed with the idea of starting a thread for those of us who are readers.

So it's officially begun. This past Friday, I learned of a new book entitled Spinglish, a collection of examples of deliberately deceptive language or, as the authors call it, a "bullschictionary." No, I haven't read it yet, but will. Here's the url for the announcement that I received:

One of the reasons this caught my eye is due to recent discussions here regarding plagiarism, which (apparently) now viewed as "unacknowledged repetition."

I look forward to getting my hands on this book.

What are you reading and want to recommend?
05-18-2015, 12:17 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-18-2015, 11:44 AM by john.)
RE: Books we like
Okay, I'll bite. First, I believe the book you are referring to is Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood mentioned by XAtlantic.

Here are a few books I've read in the past few years that I've liked. I'll also add that I often listen to books on my mini iPod nowadays.

Water for Elephants: a Novel by Sara Gruen
Quote:From Publishers Weekly
With its spotlight on elephants, Gruen's romantic page-turner hinges on the human-animal bonds that drove her debut and its sequel (Riding Lessons and Flying Changes)—but without the mass appeal that horses hold. The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression. When 23-year-old Jankowski learns that his parents have been killed in a car crash, leaving him penniless, he drops out of Cornell veterinary school and parlays his expertise with animals into a job with the circus, where he cares for a menagerie of exotic creatures[...] He also falls in love with Marlena, one of the show's star performers—a romance complicated by Marlena's husband, the unbalanced, sadistic circus boss who beats both his wife and the animals Jankowski cares for. Despite her often clichéd prose and the predictability of the story's ending, Gruen skillfully humanizes the midgets, drunks, rubes and freaks who populate her book.
A well written book about an offbeat seqment of society, set in a bygone era. Good characters and an engaging story.

The Edge of Physics: A Journey to Earth's Extremes to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Anil Ananthaswamy
Quote:From Publishers Weekly
Despite 20th-century physics' revelations, from relativity and quantum mechanics to the physics of the atom's nucleus and the life cycles of stars, ninety-odd percent of the universe is a complete mystery, says a scientist quoted by Ananthaswamy, a consulting editor for New Scientist. Dark matter, dark energy, quantum gravity: these are the topics that keep physicists awake at night, requiring bigger, more massive, more extreme experiments to test theories and uncover clues. The author takes readers behind the scenes of these experiments in some of the most inhospitable places in the world, leading the tour with wit and an eye for compelling detail. First is a pilgrimage to Mount Wilson Observatory, where astronomers first measured the expansion of the universe. Next we go 2,341 feet underground in a defunct Minnesota iron mine to search for particles that could reveal dark matter. Sensitive telescopes embedded in the thick ice of Siberia's Lake Baikal and Antarctica search for neutrinos. These experiments and others are heroic in every sense, and Ananthaswamy captures their excitement—and the personalities of the scientists behind them—with enthusiasm and insight.
The book provides lay explanations of various leading edge topics in physics, which the author makes very accessible. But the unique aspect of the book is being taken by the author to many of the extreme and remote sites where the relevant research is being conducted.

Hitch-22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens.
Quote:From Booklist
*Starred Review* Hitchens, who, in his earlier books, has expressed contempt for both God and Mother Teresa (although not in that order), is often described as a contrarian. In fact, in his book Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001), he himself noted that he “can appear insufferable and annoying,” albeit without intending to. This memoir, bracing, droll, and very revealing, gives him yet another description: storyteller. He writes with a voice you can hear clearly, warmed by smoke and whiskey, and draws readers into his story, which proves as personal as it is political. As with many memoirs, it is not the public moments that are so fascinating, though there are plenty of those. Hitchens takes readers with him to Havana and Prague, Afghanistan and Iraq; tests himself by being waterboarded (he was disappointed in his early capitulation); and hobnobs with politicians and poets. He almost gets himself beaten up by defacing a poster in Iraq with a Hitler mustache. But the most intriguing stories are the personal ones, both from his early days, at home and at boarding school, and from his later life, when he learns that his mother was Jewish, which, if only technically, makes him Jewish as well. This revelation leads Hitchens on a quest to learn the story of his family, many of whom died in the Holocaust. How this new identity squares with his oft-proclaimed atheism sheds a different light on the meaning of religious identity. (He struggles mightily with his political identity as well.) Few authors can rile as easily as Hitchens does, but even his detractors might find it difficult to put down a book so witty, so piercing, so spoiling for a fight. He makes you want to be as good a reader as he is a writer. --Ilene Cooper -
I have long enjoyed the commentary of the Christopher Hitchens and was saddened by his death in 2011. I didn't always agree with his perspective, but I always admired his dedication to independent thought and reasoned analysis.

Recently read:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Quote:An Amazon Best Book of the Month for February 2015: Yuval Noah Harari has some questions. Among the biggest: How did Homo sapiens (or Homo sapiens sapiens , if you’re feeling especially wise today) evolve from an unexceptional savannah-dwelling primate to become the dominant force on the planet, emerging as the lone survivor out of six distinct, competing hominid species? He also has some answers, and they’re not what you’d expect. Tackling evolutionary concepts from a historian’s perspective, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, describes human development through a framework of three not-necessarily-orthodox “Revolutions”: the Cognitive, the Agricultural, and the Scientific. His ideas are interesting and often amusing: Why have humans managed to build astonishingly large populations when other primate groups top out at 150 individuals? Because our talent for gossip allows us to build networks in societies too large for personal relationships between everyone, and our universally accepted “imagined realities”--such as money, religion, and Limited Liability Corporations—keep us in line. Who cultivated whom, humans or wheat?. Wheat. Though the concepts are unusual and sometimes heavy (as is the book, literally) Harari’s deft prose and wry, subversive humor make quick work of material prone to academic tedium. He’s written a book of popular nonfiction (it was a bestseller overseas, no doubt in part because his conclusions draw controversy) landing somewhere in the middle of a Venn diagram of genetics, sociology, and history. Throughout, Harari returns frequently to another question: Does all this progress make us happier, our lives easier? The answer might disappoint you. --Jon Foro
Sweeping in scope, well written (witty, lively presentation of a potentially very dry topic). Often quite speculative but always thought provoking.
05-18-2015, 03:46 PM,
RE: Books we like
I'm currently reading "The Big Short."

Quote:The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine is a non-fiction book by Michael Lewis about the build-up of the housing and credit bubble during the 2000s. The book was released on March 15, 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company.

Recent Amazon review that I agree with: "Michael Lewis writes nonfiction like fiction with excellent characters and dialogue."

I'm about 70 pages in and the book has already given me a better understanding of what went down, and why, in addition to being a good read.

[Image: Big-short-inside-the-doomsday-machine.jpg]

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