What I’m Reading
The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science – Natalie Angier
Inspired premise: Writer asks leading scientists what they wish the public knew about their field. Execution: Writer joylessly pleasures herself to the sound of her own voice, interspersing the occasional scientific anecdote between the constant sodomy of puns and allusions. “Ooooh, maybe if I use the word pernicious again someone will buy a microscope!” The book is often fascinating but in everything I have ever read I don’t think I have once come across a more glaring example of a writer so totally failed by their editors. So if anyone has any good science books, I’d love to hear about them. I’m just starting out so they’ll have to be basic.
Teacher Man – Frank McCourt (great)
The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in 3 Acts – Tom Farley Jr. (interesting way to structure a biography. Did you know that Farley did an early version of Shrek?)
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy – Vincent Bugliosi
I bought this just so I could have it (it was like $10 at Borders) and then I started flipping through it and got hooked. The book is 1,600 pages plus another 1,000 in endnotes, topping out at 1.5 million words. I am splitting it up into multiple reads. This week I did the first 400 pages which cover the introduction and a definitive narration of the assassination. Bugliosi is peerless.
Thick Face, Black Heart – Chin-Ning Chu (I had no idea it was written by a woman until I read the inside back cover. this book is ice cold. nice addition to Robert’s stuff)
These posts by Noah Brier seem to me to be the only honest and realistic discussion of building popular sites/communities around.
Fail Dogs was linked on Gorilla Mask this week.
a humble chemstry major and long time lurker’s recommenadations for good science books:
Carl Sagan – Cosmos;
Sagan – A Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark;
Bill Bryson – A Short History of Nearly Everything
Donal O’Shea – The Poincaré conjecture: in search of the shape of the universe. (more advanced, tread cautiously if your math background is light)
Do not read: Guns, Germs & Steel – wildly overated as a biology investigation, gets many of the causalities backwards.
I’ll second A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s basically a broad overview of a bunch of scientific disciplines written from the perspective of a non-scientist. There’s a lot of quirky facts about the scientists themselves too.
Also, Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene is a great introduction to the mind-blowing world of Physics. Covers everything from String Theory to relativity.
Marcus du Sautoy – The Music of the Primes
I second the Bill Bryson book.
Tons of info, tons of laughs, hours reading well spent.
Ryan, could you please elaborate on “Thick Face, Black Heart”? The reviews I have received from others are mixed. Some way it’s airy and unorganized but others say it’s blunt and insightful. Amazon doesn’t offer much clarity, either. If you can spare some time to write a few more sentences about the content I would greatly appreciate it.
Thanks for your time.
The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan
Mendel’s Dwarf by Simon Mawer
“Six Easy Pieces” by Richard Feynman is a classic
I read Teacher Man earlier this year, along with McCourt’s other two books, Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis, both of which I highly recommend
Thick Face Black Heart has an awesome title, decent premise, mediocre execution. If The Canon was failed by its editor, TFBH needed to have one but clearly didn’t.