17 April 2004

50 Books

Somebody, somewhere, on some blog or livejournal or other (it wasn't one I regularly read, and I don't even remember where I found it from), issued a challenge to read 50 books in 2004 and then blog about them. Then later on I came across someone who was going to read 52 books in 52 weeks (that one I found via Bookslut, I think. This sounds like fun, I thought. This sounds like something I can do. I changed the idea, a little, and I'm just going to see how many books I can read this year (though I'll keep 50 as a general goal, just to have something to aim for). I don't know whether I'll blog much about them, but I will list them here. So, the books I've read so far this year (not counting ones I started in 2003 and finished in 2004) are:

  1. Skeptics and True Believers by Chet Raymo. This is very readable and interesting book about science and religion and the differences between them. Though Raymo is a little more hopeful, this is the book that really helped me figure out that religion and science are in many ways antithetical. This is a good one for those interested in why we believe (or not).
  2. Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. Notice the beginnings of a trend here? Not only am I trying to figure out how things work, but I want to know why we sometimes have clashes in ideas about how things work.
  3. Eccentric Lives, Peculiar Notions by John Michel. This one is more about strange individuals and their strage convictions than about why people in general believe things in general. The writing was a little uneven, and generally mediocre, but the people Michel wrote about were quite fascinating.
  4. The Ancient Engineers by L. Sprague deCamp. This is a book that combines my interest in crackpotism with my passion for archaeology. DeCamp looks at the history of technology and does a little debunking along the way. It's a little out of date, but still holds up surprisingly well.
  5. The New Aquarium Handbook by Ines Scheurmann. Yeah, so I want to get some fish. And I always have to read up on things before I do them. It's kind of a short book, and I considered leaving it off the list, but then again, some of the others are very long.
  6. Bettas by Robert J. Goldstein. Another fish book (this time specifically on Siamese fighting fish), also pretty short. I still do not have any fish.
  7. Galileo's Finger by Peter Atkins. The subtitle is something about 10 great ideas in science, and Atkins gives a chapter to each, starting with evolution, then moving on through DNA, atoms, mathematics, entropy, and some others I've forgotten for the moment, to spacetime. There were some pretty brain-busting things in this book, but I made myself read very carefully. Atkins does a pretty good job of simplifying concepts so they're understandable to the layperson without rendering them completely meaningless.
  8. Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly. How can you not like a book by "the world's foremost expert on pirates"? Yes, this was brought on by viewing Pirates of the Caribbean. But I have always liked pirates. Who hasn't? Anyway, if you only read one book about pirates (as they say), make it this one.
  9. Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries? by Martin Gardner. This is a collection of essays. I found some very thought-provoking, and others not so much. But it was mostly well-written (a few mediocre parts, but they weren't too distracting). Okay, there was some math stuff I just didn't get . . .
  10. Generation S.L.U.T. by Marty Beckerman. I read this one to review for my Teenwriting site, because Marty wrote it when he was 19, and I interviewed him about it. It's pretty disturbing. I don't remember being that fucked up when I was a teenager.

Well, that's the first ten. I haven't got to the end of the books I read so far in 2004 yet, but I'm getting a little weary of sitting at the computer. More later.

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