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March 06, 2011

Sunday Book Thread

One book I read this past week was Kay Hymowitz's book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. My verdict? You can read it here. (Hint: I'm not a fan.)

Every so often, I'll get tired of reading inside my usual "comfort zone", and strike out into areas that don't generally interest me. I find that when this urge takes me, John McPhee is the guide I turn to in order to make uninteresting subjects (to me) interesting. His book Annals of the Former World is a great place to start. To say that it's a book about geology is like saying that Moby Dick is about a sea-captain with personal issues. It's actually a compendium of four books he's written over the years (plus a new piece written specifically for this book) on the geological history of North America. What makes this book so wonderful is McPhee's skill as an explainer and raconteur: he not only simplifies the complex, but places his explanations in a human context. He shares his slightly-geeky happiness at discovery with you. Highly recommended, even if you don't like science or nature writing as a rule.

And finally, a book I picked up but haven't read yet: The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick. This struck me as being the real-world equivalent of Neal Stephenson's book Quicksilver, a book I enjoyed a great deal, so I thought I'd give it a try. (NB: If you buy this book, just get the hardcover. It's only a dollar more than the Kindle edition. The publishers are really started to screw people on the e-book versions of new releases, and Amazon can often discount the paper book to almost the same price.)

What's everyone else reading?

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posted by Monty at 09:12 AM

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