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.

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator and designer who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time he makes videos of Spirograph drawings and complains about doing laundry. Website: Twitter: @brianggeorge Insta: @brianggeorge If you're into what I'm doing, feel free to throw down a bit in my tipjar here: @brianggeorge

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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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