Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Book Review (for recreational reading)

  1. Aug 23, 2005 #1
    Tell us what book(s) you have read recently and what you think about them.
    Be sure to add in whether or not you think it is a specialized taste that will enjoy a title or if you personally don't like a particular book but think others might.
    And try not to give away surprises! :surprised
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2005 #2
    lol the only non-math book i'm reading right now is http://www.web.net/blackrosebooks/histcanb.htm [Broken] by r tom naylor. i think most people would consider it heavy-duty economic history, but i think it's more like canada's answer to howard zinn's "a people's history of the united states".

    from mel watkins' preface:
    "....from a criminological perspective the present volume, with its appalling recitation of scams and scandals, of corporate brigandage and governmental corruption, can be seen as a comprehensive account of the history of white collar crime in Canada....
    ...the Social Science Federation of Canada decides to honour the 20 most outstanding books among the some 2,000 titles that have been subsidized over the 50 years in which this has been done. Two books in Canadian economic history make the list. The first is the monumental Fur Trade in Canada by the great Harold Innis. The second is History of Canadian Business 1867-1914 by R.T. Naylor. Enough said. Read on."

    it's where i read the following quotation of sir john a macdonald, supposed rabid nationalist in 1881:
    "Independence is a farce. Canada must belong either to the British system or the American system... If we had to make the choice between independence and annexation, I would rather that we should have annexation and join with the United States at once."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Aug 24, 2005 #3
    The Rule of Four

    by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

    I just finished reading this the other day. It starts off giving you the impression that it will be very pretentious. The main character is Thomas Sullivan an english major, one of the top of the class, in his senior year at Princeton working on his thesis regarding Mary Shelly's Frankenstien. The other main characters are his three friends, all Priceton seniors, who are also in the top of their class.
    The subject of the plot is a book called the http://mitpress.mit.edu/e-books/HP/ [Broken] written approximately five hundred years ago and so dense that even today it still has yet to be very well understood, like the Finigans Wake of the Renaissance. The main Tom Sullivan's father had been working on cracking a supposed secret code hidden in the book all his life but had little success. Tom himself having seen what his father's love of the book had done to him did not want to have anything to do with it. One of Tom's friends though, Paul, became intranced with the book himself and made it the subject of his own thesis. In the process of the story the two princeton students begin to crack the code written into the book. Then people begin to die. :uhh:
    Very much a Da Vinci Code style book but apparently not quite as good. I haven't read the Da Vinci Code yet so I couldn't say. What I have read of Dan Brown I don't rate very highly. This book definitely doesn't keep the suspense up like Dan Brown tends to do. Where Brown has the tendancy of piling high the fantastic from the get go and never slowing down these two have tried to add suspense and momentum with a more even hand. The outcome of this isn't very smooth however especially with regard to continual flashbacks which seem to make up a bulk of the book. The continual philosophizing gets a bit trite.
    Other than these things it's not so bad especially for being the first book either author has had published. The product is a more creative knock off than I thought it would be. Worth picking up if you are just looking for some reading material to pass time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. Aug 24, 2005 #4

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Recently, I've re-read the anthology of anthropological essays
    "Ritualized Homosexuality in Melanesia", edited by Gilbert Herdt.

    This examines the traditional secret male initiation rites in various cultures, among them the feared Marind-Anim, at one time the fiercest head-hunters on New Guinea.

    It is a very interesting book; I can't possibly see why this is in any way should be for people of "specialized" taste. It is suitable for the general public..:wink:
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2005
  6. Aug 24, 2005 #5
    I used to be a bit of a bookworm, but now I work full-time, study-part time and have too many other past-times to read as much as I'd like. Working my way (slowly) through the William S. Burroughs back catalogue though. I'm conflicted. On the one hand, a lot of his work, Naked Lunch in particular, is essentially sensationalist pornography for the titillation of no-one but the writer. Recurring fantasies such as hanging as a sexual act (severe auto-aspyxiation), copraphilia, and other depravities come across as Burroughs getting himself off safe in the knowledge it will cause a stir. In Interzone he even writes about his desire to write something more shocking than anything ever written. On the other hand, his writing about drugs, its peddlars and users, effects and uses, is endlessly fascinating, and his 'routines' are extraordinary. Essentially short prose, but it often goes a lot further than your average short story by doing less. Often his routines are just absurd and hilarious; often they even lack epiphany, highlighting that scenarios can be fascinating in themselves, and need not be resolved since the resolution is not of interest. Also, reading his work in context of what we know about him (e.g. his 'accidental' shooting of his wife, his avoidance of his son, etc) is a psychologist's wet dream. And then there is his (non-sexual) fantasy writing: the drug- and paranoia-inspired worlds he creates that essentially gave birth to the cyberpunk genre, often riffing on the cliches of Chandleresque detective fiction, but developing by its own twisted logic. The writing is original and done with immense talent and is, at least, honest, often homaging an aspect of his lifestyle (be it Tangiers, New York, drugs, boys) in one breath, then damning it in the next. Not so much specialist as a test of endurance - if you can stomach it and ignore the bad porn, it's great. If not, avoid.
     
  7. Aug 24, 2005 #6
    I'm currently re-reading my Encyclopedia of World History. I think it's great. :biggrin:
     
  8. Aug 24, 2005 #7
    I tried reading that, got kind of bored. I'm going to try again when school starts again and I can do that to avoid doing assignments :approve:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  9. Aug 24, 2005 #8
    Hey all, Currently reading 2 books,

    (1)Guns, Germs and Steel (Jared Diamond): This is pretty good so far (about 2/3 of the way through) All about how different cultures evolved and why europe and asia got so far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technology, armies etc. Well worth a read.

    (2) A Devils Chaplain (Richard Dawkins): I'm a bit of a Dawkins fan, this is the third of his books I've read in the last year or so. Basically this is a selection of essays he has written in the past on varying topics from religion to politics etc. 'The selfish gene' and 'the blind watchmaker' (other books from the same author) were both excellent. Made me look at evolution and why things are the way they are quite differently.

    Also recently read "The know it all" by A Jacobs, which was kinda funny. Basically the author decided to read the britannica encyclopedia from A-Z. Every chapter is a letter, and he writes about some of the more interesting parts of the encyclopedia. He also interweaves in stories about his own life. Worth a read if you want something light.

    PS
     
  10. Aug 24, 2005 #9

    brewnog

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin", by Francis Spufford. A collection of tales about the British boffins behind projects such as Black Arrow, Concorde, Vodafone, Acorn and Beagle 2. Sometimes slightly unlikely, but entertaining all the way through. Definitely a 5-star book. I'd recommend it to people like Astronuc and Danger.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0571214967/026-7612597-3537248
     
  11. Aug 24, 2005 #10

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Well, I re-read The Lord of the Rings earlier in the summer, and am currently working on Ovid's Metamorphoses and Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees. I'm also teaching myself classical Greek and Irish Gaelic (which my girlfriend and I are learning together). I re-read Dune really early in the summer, along with the whole Space Odyssey series. I'll probably tackle The Count of Monte Cristo when I get a chance, which I haven't read since I was 12. As you can see, I'm not tackling a whole lot of new ground. Oh, and I've had more than my fill of science books over the last few years. I've sworn off of that for at least a year (except conservation ecology). The only technical books I've looked over recently mostly had to do with urban planning, unless you consider the language texts to be technical.

    There isn't much point in me reviewing any of these, as they're all pretty well-known and I'm sure have already been widely read here.
     
  12. Aug 24, 2005 #11
    Gaeilge? An a mhaith ar fad.
     
  13. Aug 24, 2005 #12

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Sorry buddy, I haven't begun yet. The book and tapes should be arriving this week. If you stick around, though, I should be able to comprehend some of what you say, and maybe even talk back, in about a month or so.
     
  14. Aug 24, 2005 #13
    My irish is pretty crap anyway, can only remember bits of what I learned in school!!
    Good luck with it though, its a cool language to speak.
     
  15. Aug 24, 2005 #14
    Recently finished Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling by Ross King, a detailed history of the commission and painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and how it all fit into the political backdrop of he day.

    I knew little about the whole thing and this book is a revelation. The period was unbelievably rich, historically speaking; the Pope was, in effect, The Godfather violently protecting his turf, and his story is enriched with such supporting actors as Martin Luther, Machiavelli, Da Vinci, and Raphael.
     
  16. Aug 24, 2005 #15
    Hmmmm... I was thinking that there might be a bit more fiction being talked about. Non-fiction is more than welcome though ofcourse.
    Thank you for the description of Burroughs Hombre. Readig books without any style to the writing really bothers me. It's one of the things that bothered me about The Rule of Four.

    Speaking of writing without style I'm almost done reading Deception Point by Dan Brown. Even though the writing is rather soulless Dan Brown's story lines are usually interesting enough to keep my attention. This particular story revolves around campaigning for the presidential election and a NASA discovery that turns the tides of the campaigns. Ofcourse a conspiracy is uncovered along the way... and people start to die. :uhh: :tongue: I really need to get my happy butt to a book store during the day instead of continuing to buy these cheesy pieces of crap in the grocery in the middle of the night.
    Anyway... It's a Dan Brown novel. It has just as much quality as Angels & Demons did in my opinion. I haven't finished reading it but I think the twist ending is going to be very familiar. I guess we'll see.


    On a side note. I need some good resources to do research for a book concept. Can anyone offer some good titles in regards to the history of American Presidencies and elections? I'm mainly looking for material about elections and campaigns specifically and not just recent but as far back as possible. Preferably something not too terribly dry.
     
  17. Aug 24, 2005 #16
    yes you should finish reading it sometime! i don't know how it could be boring though; i love reading the dirt on the deified politicians of the past. i haven't gotten very far in it but already i've put the book down shaking my head. our first bank laws were written by a committee of people who worked for the banks and people who worked for the banks & were members of parliament (or senators) simultaneously. & they were supposed to write the laws that would regulate the banks?! :devil:
     
  18. Aug 24, 2005 #17

    Mk

    User Avatar

    Again, I will recommend the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, everyone that gets past the unappetizing first book will fall in love with it. The Dark Tower is the backbone of Stephen King's legendary career. Inspired more than thirty years ago by works as diverse as J. R. R. Tolkien's epics, Robert Browning's poetry, and Sergio Leone's Westerns, this is the tale that Stephen King has never abandoned. When he typed the first sentence in 1970, King feared the telling might take several lifetimes, but over 30 years and five thousand pages later, the tale is told.

    Anybody and everybody I know who's read it loves it, and I suggest all to read it once again.
     
  19. Aug 26, 2005 #18

    Astronuc

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Well, I just started reading Christopher Paolini's book, "Eldest", which is a second book of a Trilogy "Inheritance". He is currently writing the third book. The first book is "Eragon", a story about a young man who finds a blue stone that turns out to be a dragon's egg.

    The story is similar in nature to "Lord of the Rings" - good vs evil, young individual vs evil emperor.

    The writing is youthful and would appeal to adolescents. Nevertheless, I enjoy the story.

    I wrote some info about here - https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=723989&postcount=752
     
  20. Aug 27, 2005 #19
    Just finished Catch-22. Awesome book; funny and enlightening.
     
  21. Aug 27, 2005 #20

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Sorry to say, but I really couldn't stand Catch-22. One hundred pages into it and there had been nothing but a long line of gags and witty one-liner descriptions of new characters. There didn't even seem to be any plot at that point. I got tired of it and just stopped reading.

    Anyway, given that the book is so widely acclaimed, I'm sure it must hatch an actual story at some point, and it is probably fairly compelling and makes some worthwhile points. But when it takes that long to get to the point, you're going to lose some people.
     
  22. Aug 27, 2005 #21
    loseyourname - I felt the same exact way about A Confederacy of Dunces.
     
  23. Aug 28, 2005 #22
    Yossarian Lives!!

    I think that it is just his style. He jumped from story to story quite a bit. It sort of reflects the madness Yosarian found himself in and shows a build of that madness as the book moves along. I think that I had felt it was dragging a bit here and there. The odd sort of light heartness that it starts out with disappears eventually and things become much darker and twisted. The story line starts to fall into place much more too but if I remember correctly for the most part he continues with the patchwork structure. I liked it quite a bit myself. I'm very much a fan of satire. And after reading books by Robert Anton Wilson the patchwork structure didn't really bother me at all.


    I finished Deception Point. It was ok. I realized that in his infinite laziness Dan Brown completely side stepped the existance of a vice president or even a running mate for the senator running against him in the election.
    After that I gave in to my desire for a fix and picked up another grocery store novel. Code To Zero by Follett. I liked it more so than Dan Browns books. I'm thinking that it may have been because of the subject matter and the time period it was set in. The plot revolves around a rocket scientist who wakes up one morning on the floor of the bathroom in Union Station dressed as a bum with a hangover and having lost his memory. The author did a relatively good job of the lost memory bit. The rocket scientist was actually one of the ones working on the Explorer One launch which was scheduled to occur with in the next few days. He slowly begins to figure out who he is and realizes that there is a Russian plot to sabotage the launch. Someone had wiped his memory to prevent him from uncovering the plot. I think I liked it mainly because of my fondness for the Pulp Detective/Spy novel genre.

    Last night I finally went through my boxes in storage to see if I have any books lying around that I haven't read yet. I found a treasure. I somewhere along the lines picked up a complete collection of Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles and forgot that I had it. I was hooked after reading the first couple of pages. Usually I don't go for fantasy much but it's not quite your average fantasy novel it doesn't seem. When I've finished the first book I'll tell you more of what I think.
     
  24. Aug 29, 2005 #23
    So the Amber Chronicles are a bit more epic than I had thought they would be. I can't really say much about it after only the first book. Coincidentally it starts out with the main character having amnesia and not knowing who he is being kept like a prisoner in a private hospital on drugs. He figures out who put him there and then escapes the hospital. He finds the person who had checked him in who is supposedly his sister. From there he begins to realize who he is, a member of a royal family from a place called Amber. He goes there with one of his brothers to Amber all the time conning his family into believing that he knows what's going on even though he doesn't. Eventually he regains his memory and realizes that he wishes to challenge one of his brothers for the throne of Amber which has been under dispute. I'll stop there before I give away too much.
    Amber itself is supposed to be like the hub of the universe. It is the only place that is real and every other world is only a shadow of Amber. The royal family of Amber, the children of Oberon, are the only ones that are capable of traversing worlds at will. Some think that to some extent these worlds are created by those who travel to them and wouldn't exist otherwise. There are infinite shadows of Amber.

    So far I'm about a third of the way through the second book. Like many fantasy novels do there are points where the story drags because of descriptions of long arduous journeys and long arguous battles... you'd think that more authors would realize that this makes for rather long arguous reading. One of the reasons I don't care much for fanatasy. Other than that I love the book.
     
  25. Aug 29, 2005 #24
    Yeah, Yossarian lives! :smile:

    Anyway, Heller's book may seem a bit plotless at first, as if it's only a collection of short stories thrown together. But this isn't true. Slowly Heller unravels his plot, be it from the steady loss of Yossarian's friends or from the unrelenting rise of combat missions, and slowly but surely does the madness climax; the frivolity twists into something cruel and bitter, the "long line of gags and witty one-liner descriptions" changing from humorous to frightening and cold and dark. You must read the entire book!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2005
  26. Sep 6, 2005 #25

    Astronuc

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Heavy Words Lightly Thrown

    I heard an interesting interview on the local public radio station about the book "Heavy Words Lightly Thrown" by Chris Roberts. Roberts explained the meaning of English nursery rhymes and the history.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/ling/stories/s1359590.htm [Broken]

    From Penguin Books
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook