04 August 2006

Off the Bookshelf

One of the things I'm doing with my new life plan (yikes! I sound like Dr. Phil) is to read more and to read better quality books. And since several readers of my blog have asked what I am reading, I thought I'd write about what I'm reading and why and what I thought of the books when I'm done with them. The latter point is to perhaps help others out when it comes to picking out a good book to read.

Before I get to the books, I should explain one other thing. In the past, I have tried to read 2-3 novels, a couple of non-fiction books, and 1 or 2 self-help books all at once -- basically I had a nice pile of books next to the bed. I know I didn't do any of them justice so I now limit myself to 1 novel and 1 non-fiction book. It's not easy to do, since I'll be doing something and see a book and just want to start reading it. Instead, I now have a pile of books to read in the study, not beside my bed.

Here's what I've finished lately:
  • A Sophisticate's Primer of Relativity, by P.W. Bridgman -- I bought this book on a whim, hoping it would help me begin to understand relativity (which is background to string theory which is what I really want to understand). Despite it's title, this is not a primer on relativity. In fact, the author does state he expects the reader to be familiar with relativity theory and its equations. (The book has 2 equations in it, so the math behind the theory wasn't a problem.) I found the book to be almost useless because it was a reprint of an older book (1962) and still talked about ether, because the author seemed a whole lot more interested in the philosophy of science than in discussing the theory of relativity, and because the author often referred to various experiments and papers which I have no knowledge of.
  • Op-Center: State of Siege, by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik -- I bought this at the library's book sale sometime ago because hubby was reading Clancy's novels and forced me to read them in self-defense. It was entertaining, but not challenging from a literary point of view. Basically, something bad happens, good guys fight to save the day, and there's a lot of technical jargon. This one , however, was more interesting than some of the Op-Center series because of the background given on the League of Nations and the founding of the UN.

Presently, I'm reading these two books:

  • The Hours, by Michael Cunningham -- I found this novel at the library booksale and bought it because this book and it's author has won numerous awards, so it must be good. (So far as in I'm on chapt 2, it is good.) The basic outline is 3 women, with 3 diferent lives, and somehow they get connected by the end of the book.
  • Regarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag -- Years ago, I saw Sontag on Charlie Rose and thought she sounded interesting, so I bought several of her books. Lately I found this book, so, since the subject is photography and its influence on war perception, I thought it was very appropriate to read now.

I do wish I had a bit more time to read -- I used to take whole afternoons or days off to read a book -- but I have so many other things to do. So, my reading is confined to a half hour or so after lunch, at night (since I don't watch much tv), and on weekends when I'm having my days off. But I'm also finding it nice to be looking forward to reading a bit more everyday.

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