First, the request: I need someone to fill in for me next week (April 11) I also need someone for April 25. On April 11 I will be guest host Frugal Fridays (at dailyKos); on April 25 I will be out of town
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 dailyKos
If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know. In two weeks, I am thinking of “books that explain America”
Last week, AnnieJo in a comment on dailyKos, compared some of the books she was reading to different kinds of candy. That got us into books as food. Which, of course, leads to books about food.
First, a brief look at what I’m reading:
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.
The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley. What an odd little book. Originally published in 1950….sort of a combo of 1984, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Lord of the Flies, and a healthy dose of perhaps Jonathan Swift.
Books as food:
Some books are like candy – light, sweet, enjoyable, not of any nutritive value, perhaps kind of fattening, in an odd, mental sort of way. I am not a big fan of these, usually.
Others are like comfort food. I think of these as books that you re-read, not so much because you missed stuff the first time around, as because they’re just fun…. I’m not always in the mood for mind stretching books that require attention. Two like this for me are Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. They’re just so funny!. Calvin Trillin’s Tummy Trilogy (about eating!) are like this too. Some SF novels that I read long ago are like this — Spider Robinson’s Callahan books, for instance.
Then some are like meat. Solid. Full of protein. Good history books and biographies are like this, especially if they’re about a period or a person that’s at least somewhat familiar to you. The Alexander Hamilton book is like that. Books on topics you are familiar with, but not in detail.
Then, some books are like “ethnic” food….. especially if the “ethnicity” isn’t yours. These books require attention. They aren’t about what you’re used to, they sit differently in your brain. For me, these are usually highly technical books; either about math, or statistics, or philosophy. They require slow and often repeated reading. One great example of a book like this is Godel Escher Bach — it’s a different world you’re entering here.
Finally, some books are like goulash. They’re a mix. It’s really hard to do this right. If you mix a bunch of different stuff, you’re like to get glop. Cryptonomicon is a goulash book of superlative quality.
Books about food:
Anthony Bourdain’s books
Calvin Trillin’s “Tummy Trilogy” (American Fried; Alice, Let’s Eat!; and Third Helpings, available in one volume). The adventures of a happy eater who tries to avoid “La Maison de la Casa House” in favor of good local food.
MFK Fischer books.
doubtless others will come to mind