mump boy wrote:I was given a copy of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe for xmas. I'm not going to pretend it's a page turner but it a beautifully written and observed book from an african perspective which is very refreshing
I've only read the first part because Judge Judy keeps interrupting but i'll get there
scottmitchell74 wrote:Team of Rivals - The Politcal Genius of Abraham Lincoln - Doris Kearns-Goodwin
About 1/4 of the way through, so far very interesting.
Looks promising, I will have to look this one up.
Thanks, another example of why this is about my favorite thread.
This was spurred by Re: what's the "Great American Novel"?
Many years ago I read Freeman Dyson's book Disturbing the universe; I suspect it is a bit dated now because its main topic is nuclear disarmament, as a lot has changed in that sphere (thank goodness, although not enough -- no putting that genie back in that bottle).
As long as I am going back two + books by John McPhee: Curve of Binding Energy Annals of the Former World
The former is about the mass reduction that occurs when you join atoms (below iron) and the energy released via E = MC^2 The latter is a re-release of four books on geology wherein he travels across a type of terrain with a geologist of note, with the story also about the geologist. I would be interested in what our resident geologist thought of these books (if he has read them). I read them individually near the time they came out and then re-read them, with pleasure, several years ago. I rarely re-read anything since there is SO much to read and I read so slowly (those dyslexia and add things ).
No, none of those books is particularly 'heavy' (other than the actual weight of the 4-volume compendium of McPhee). Dyson's book was one of the first of a series by something like the Sloan Foundation that 'commissioned' a series of books by scientists.
26mi235 wrote:[As long as I am going back two + books by John McPhee: Annals of the Former World
The latter is a re-release of four books on geology wherein he travels across a type of terrain with a geologist of note, with the story also about the geologist. I would be interested in what our resident geologist thought of these books (if he has read them). I read them individually near the time they came out and then re-read them, with pleasure, several years ago. I rarely re-read anything since there is SO much to read and I read so slowly (those dyslexia and add things ).
I read Basin and Range when it was released.. did not know there were four books.. As one of the resident geologists, I thought it was the best presentation of geology to laymen I have ever read..I still have it around here somewhere... unless my geologist daughter has pilfered it...now I gotta scare up the missing volumes.
I loved Basin and Range when I first read it years ago. I have the "Annals" book that 26 mentions on the very top of (one of my) reading stacks. McPhee is a truly brilliant literary craftsman, who is eloquent regardless of what the subject may be. Coincidentally, I just met his daughter, a fine contemporary photographer, two days ago.
Well, apparently, how we all spent our summer vacations wasn't reading!
I'm embarrassed to admit that in a very busy, fragmented year, I've devoured a dozen fluffy paperbacks (working on series by Sue Grafton, John Sandford and the Frank Herbert Estate) that go down well on planes and in hotel rooms, but I haven't read anyting of substance in months, even though my library shelf continues to pile up with new hardbacks courtesy of my good friends at Amazon, who now hold a second mortgage on the house.
On another thread, I mentioned Nate Silver's book "The Signal and the Noise." gh asked why I didn't mention it on this thread, and how was it. So I'll cross reference my review from over there to here.
Since I am a statistician by trade, most of what he covers about trying to predict things is what I do for a living. He isn't really going to teach me anything about statistics or statistical thinking in the book. That said, I am not really the target audience for the book. My sister got it for me for last Xmas, so I decided to read it. So my review for others follows.
I think that it is a well written book that covers a lot of basic statistical concepts in a very understandable way. He really doesn't get into any details of statistics, but he gets into good case studies of how the predictions were made and communicated, and how that affected a lot of things beyond the prediction. He covers: --the housing bubble --his attempts at predicting future success in baseball based on minor league information --the success of the National Weather Service of doing a better job at prediction than in years past --unsuccessful attempts at predicting earthquakes --the aforementioned attempts at predicting disease propagation --why loud and opinionated political pundits are usually the worst at predicting things --his attempts at making a living playing poker --why stock market analysts usually recommend that you buy a stock
There are a few chapters on how predictions can be improved moving forward. I think if someone is interested in some of these areas, it is a very interesting read. Worst case, you will have a better understanding of what the predictions that you read about in the news are really worth, if anything.
He has a very good chapter about global warming, addressing reasons why people are skeptical about the predictions coming out of that area. Note that I am a global warming skeptic, and I think that he gave a very balanced and interesting account of the subject.
My favorite thread -- I will have to get busy and give a brief review of the summer's reading. I am currently reading The Comprehensible Cosmos: where do the laws of physics come from. It is a 'dual' book, with 190 pages of text, basically sans equations, and then 130-page set of appendices that get progressively harder both within each appendix and then as you go from App A to B to ... H. My math is decent, but not in this context (or depth). He is definitely not one of the Paul Davies, Michio Kaku sorts.
The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor. Reading it because a friend read and said it was really good and loaned it to me five years ago. I've had one false start, now 60% thru it and it's tedious. Anyone else here suffer thru it before me?
Lot of stuff recently because I've been traveling a lot
One Summer - 1927 by Bill Bryson - about the summer of 1927 - Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, bunch of other stuff - very good
David and Goliath - new Malcolm Gladwell book - have always loved his stuff - not this one. Waste of time - did not like it at all
Jefferson and Hamilton by John Ferling - summary of the great rivals among the founders of the USA - big fan of this genre, so know much of the story, and have read several of Ferling's books. He always does a good job - as with this one.
Wheelmen - by Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell - Lance Armstrong story - highly recommended. He is one complete prick.
Toughness by Jay Bilas - Jay is an old friend from my day's with Duke basketball team. I thought it was pretty good but not quite deserving of some of the encomiums I have seen on twitter and various other sources
Our Lives Our Fortunes Our Sacred Honors - the Forging of American Independence by Richard Beeman - story of the summer of 1776 basically - was pretty good - bit of a slog to get through however
The Men Who United the States by Simon Winchester - just starting it - I'll let you know
Songwriters on Songwriting, a book I would guess many songwriters, wannabee songwriters or folks really interested in the process of crafting music at least know about if not read. Paul Zollo, a songwriter and musician, interviews around 70 songwriters from Pete Seeger to Mose Allison, Dave Brubeck, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bacharach/David, Goffin/King, Harry Nilsson, Frank Zappa, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson and a boatload of others.
Each entry starts with a short musically-oriented bio and then the interview where they talk shop, including the development of songwriters and the crafting of the music itself. There is zero of the People Mag kind of salacious angles – just music. Pretty much all of the songwriters really respond well to this and open up quite a bit. Highly recommended!
gh wrote:A must-read for WWII buffs: With Wings Like Eagles (A History Of The Battle Of Britain), by Michael Korda.
I had never before quite realized how brilliant Hugh Dowding was.
Bam, did you know that Billy Fiske was in this book and why?
First American killed in World War II - he flew for the Royal Air Force because he had so many friends in Britain.
You didn't give his sports significance! golds in the bob in '28 and '32 and was the '32 U.S. flag bearer.
Korda calls him the first America killed, but I did some Wikiing when I read that and it's open to interpretation.
A U.S. naval attaché was killed earlier in '40 in Norway, and another American-born pilot went down over the Channel, but his "family had moved to Wales before the War," so his status is not clear-cut.
(I'm sure all these references are to people in uniform: hard to imagine that "many" people w/ U.S. citizenship didn't go down as collateral damage in the first year of the war)
Anyone Alamo buffs?? Just finished (a few hours ago) a novel based on a true story, "Alamo Heights" by Scott Zesch, published in 1999. Hard to find, located it on Amazon.....had searched lots of bookstores.
Anyway, it concerns a woman who, in the first decade of the 20th century, worked to save the Alamo from being made part of a big hotel complex. An east coast developer comes to Texas to try to buy the property, but the woman, a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, tries to stop him. Has an interesting cast of characters, and the story flows along, with various newspaper articles, Letters to the Editor, and Western Union telegrams providing some continuity.
Written somewhat comedically, but has some excellent detailed descriptions of San Antonio life circa 1907...including a car the woman drives like a maniac in a town where people still went around in horse-drawn carriages!!
If you want to read EVERYTHING Alamo-oriented, this novel (or is it historical novel??) is well worth reading.
With the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI upon us in 2014, there are a number of books out now about 1914 and the coming war. I started one, called only 1914, and couldn't get thru it. Anybody else tried any of the others?