Home

GEONius.com
6-Nov-2010
E-mail

The following are mini-reviews of books I read in 2001.
Also see the full index of books I've read.

Note: The United States 2000 presidential election threw my reading habits into a tailspin. I spent a lot of time in December and January reading political commentary I got off of the web. I finally finished reading The Lopsided Ape in late January or early February and, having discovered a treasure trove of science fiction and mystery webzines, I've been downloading and reading a lot of short stories.

  [Book cover]

Pnin

by Vladimir Nabakov
Some quotes:
The evolution of sense is, in a sense, the evolution of nonsense.
and
With the help of the janitor he screwed onto the side of the desk a pencil sharpener - that highly satisfying, highly philosophical implement that goes ticonderoga-ticonderoga, feeding on the yellow finish and sweet wood, and ends up in a kind of soundlessly spinning ethereal void as we all must.
  [Book cover]

Hidden Histories of Science

edited by Robert B. Silvers
Five scientists, frequent contributors to The New York Review of Books, "take up [Oliver Sacks'] theme of forgotten and neglected moments in the history of scientific discovery".
Jonathan Miller leads off with a fascinating history of physiological and psychological ideas, beginning with the 18th-century, mesmerising Mesmer and his "animal magnetism", moving on to the 19th-century Braid and "nervous sleep" (hypnotism), and finishing up with discussions of more modern psychological philosophies, concepts, and theories.
Stephen Jay Gould looks at the misrepresentations and distortions found in popular representations of evolution; e.g., the inexorable progression from pond scum to the highest form of life, man. This chapter was disappointing to me, both because Gould has covered this topic elsewhere (see his Full House) and because I think he could (and has previously done) an excellent job on Sacks' original theme.
...
  [Book cover]

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An): An Authentic Eighteenth-Century Chinese Detective Novel

translation, introduction, and notes by Robert Van Gulik
...
 

The Penguin Complete Father Brown

by G. K. Chesterton
...
Also see quotes from my two favorite stories, The American Chesterton Society ("Common Sense for the World's Uncommon Nonsense"), and John Peterson's "Who is Father Brown".
  [Book cover]

The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science

by Paul Krugman
...
  [Book cover]

Genes, Peoples, and Languages

by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, translated by Mark Seielstad
...
Also see the Genome News Network review and Steve Olson's article on Cavalli-Sforza, "The Genetic Archaeology of Race", in The Atlantic Monthly.
  [Book cover]

The Imp of the Mind: Exploring the Silent Epidemic of Obsessive Bad Thoughts

by Lee Baer
...
  [Book cover]

The Battle for God

by Karen Armstrong (Wikipedia)
...
  [Book cover]

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens
...

Alex Measday  /  E-mail