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AI: This Day In Ragnarok


My book pile has become unwieldy. Current unread / half-read titles include, but are not limited to, The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, Machine of Death – Volume 1, Proofiness by Charles Seife, The Brutality of Fact: Interviews with Francis Bacon and THAT IS ALL by John Hodgman. Not to mention all the re-reading I do.

Having said that, I think we should all try to grow my book pile until it fills my entire apartment and/or topples and traps me underneath.

What are you reading? What books should I (we) add to my (our) book pile? 

* It should go without saying that, as today is Carl Sagan Day, Demon Haunted World is already and always on the list.

The ART Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Mad Art Lab community. Look for it to appear Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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  1. Recently finished “The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution” and an anthology of SF literary criticism by Joanna Russ. (Mostly SF, that is.)

    Just started “Shapes” by Philip Ball, which is the first book of a three-parter about patterns in Nature. I’m a little worried about starting something that could prove to be dense and/or dry. I don’t have any advance knowledge about this book; I bought it almost entirely on the strength of a previous book by the same author, namely “Water: The Matrix of Life”, which was a bit dry at times (ba-dum tssh) but ultimately very enjoyable.

    I also have “Proofiness” on my to-read stack. I was a little disappointed by Seife’s previous book “Zero”, which is maybe why I haven’t started this one yet. I don’t remember what else is on my to-read stack at home, other than that it’s bigger than it should be. At any given time the number of books that I own but haven’t read yet is embarrassing. To quote Nick Hornby: “When I die and face St. Peter, I can only hope that he judges me by the books I’ve purchased, rather than the books I’ve read.”

  2. I have a compulsive tendency to buy books that I have no time to read. As such, the current stack in my living room is:

    – “The Hidden Reality” by Brian Greene
    – “Hark! A Vagrant” by Kate Beaton
    – “The Disappearing Spoon” by Sam Kean
    – “The Blank Slate” by Stephen Pinker
    – “Feynman” by Jim Ottaviana/Leland Myrick
    – “The Rational Optimist” by Matt Ridley

    (There are others, but they’re still buried in the boxes that I haven’t unpacked since I moved three months ago.)

    Additionally, I have “A Game of Thrones,” “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” and a book of Norse mythology all on the go on my phone’s eReader (mood-dependent reading). Oh, and a copy of “Machine of Death” that’s been living in my suitcase since I bought it last year, for some light material that doesn’t require continuity between reads.

  3. “Antartica” Kim Stanley Robinson. ISBN:0553574027 I’m re-reading it, and it once again has kindled a desire to go there. Fiction but well researched and full of history.

    “The Lions of Al-Rassan” Guy Gavriel Kay ISBN:0060733497 Fiction again, in the high fantasy category but with a twist. He uses the real history of various areas as a basis for his fictional world. This one is based around medieval Spain. All of his books are great*, but this is my favourite. Beautiful writing, well drawn characters with real human emotions, motivations and problems, just the tiniest bit of magic for spice *and* he tries to write the whole story in a single volume. He apologised that “Sarantine Mosaic” got away from him and became two volumes. This is going to sound stupid, but his books make me want to be a better person.

    *Well, his first trilogy wasn’t the best though.

    Your reading list seems to be mostly non-fiction so:

    “Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization” Stuart Isacoff ISBN:0375703306 A fascinating look at how the western musical scale became what it is today.

  4. Ha, I am currently waiting on “Hark! A Vagrant!” to arrive in the mails. But I don’t know if I can count that as being on my to-read list because I think I’ve already read most or all of it online.

    What is on my to-read list:

    “The Secret Life of Words”, by Henry Hitchings;
    “√2”, by David Flannery;
    “The Poincaré Conjecture”, by Donal O’Shea;
    “An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris”, by Georges Perec;
    “The Dispossessed”, by Ursula K. LeGuin;

    … plus the aforementioned “Proofiness”, of course. Plus the books about programming topics that I buy because I want to feel like I’m not stagnating as a programmer.

    (Plus all the other books that I bought but somehow migrated to an actual bookshelf before I got around to reading them, because every time I saw them lying around I would feel guilty for buying a book I didn’t have the time and/or energy to actually read. Am I a bad person?)

  5. Oh, and PS: Thanks for the note about “Temperament”. That books sounds right up my alley. I suspect it’s going to be on my to-read list sooner rather than later.

  6. Wow! You all have such interesting book lists. Thanks for the suggestions. I am now genuinely afraid to walk past my neighborhood book shop for fear of spending all of the money!

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