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What books do you read to relax?

  1. Oct 14, 2014 #1
    Hello all!

    Of recent, with the more and more abstract my studies become, I have found that it can sometimes be difficult to relax and re-enter reality. I don't like to watch television or play video games, and I have recently run out of books to read that can still stimulate my interest, but aren't too taxing mentally.

    So, what do you all like to read to decompress?
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  3. Oct 14, 2014 #2


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    What's relaxing is very much a matter of taste, of course, but I relax by reading history. And it also is a sort of re-entrance into reality, when I think about it... And it doesn't have to be ancient history, I like contemporary history too.
  4. Oct 14, 2014 #3
    It's a hard question for me to answer because I don't read to relax. When what I'm reading has the effect of relaxing me, in fact, I tend to fall asleep. This is usually quite pleasant, but I don't get any reading done that way. Normally when I read I'm out for entertainment, and I look for edge-of-your seat, nail-biting, page-turners more than anything else.
  5. Oct 15, 2014 #4
    I enjoy reading history too, and that is what I typically read; however, I have never even thought of contemporary history. I usually focus more on popular anthropology, western, and religious histories. I will look more into it!

    Maybe relax wasn't the proper word to describe what I am looking for, because I do love to read for page-turning entertainment from time to time. I am really just looking for something that can keep my attention and force me back into the real world. Staring at arcane symbols all day almost puts me into a trance sometimes.

    What type of 'edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, page-turners' do you like to read?
  6. Oct 15, 2014 #5
    The first author I'd recommend to anyone is John Grisham. He concentrates on courtroom drama, which is an excellent venue for building up dramatic tension. He's also a very clean, straightforward, readable writer. He writes good people, by which I mean you like most of the characters and feel involved with them.

    Michael Connelly is excellent for police procedural. He's written a large number of novels featuring LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, but he has explored other characters as his protagonist as well. What I like about these is that Bosch is not a detection genius - just dedicated and experienced. It feels more realistic. The plots are usually gripping and twist along the way to keep you surprised and guessing.

    If you're not too squeamish about violence, then the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child are good for an edge-of-your-seat "justice fantasy." Lone Jack Reacher makes sure the bad guys get their due by the last page. Reacher is an ex-army MP, who was downsized out of the military after the Berlin wall came down, and he hitchhikes the USA with nothing but the clothes on his back getting into adventure after adventure as he happens upon corruption and crime, usually in small town America.

    For something more fantastic, the Agent Pendergast novels of Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child may entertain. Special Agent Pendergast is a New Orleans aristocrat and polymath who went into the FBI and takes on X-File type cases. He's tall, lean and as pale as Andy Warhol, but he thinks like Hannibal Lecter, if Hannibal Lecter had been a good guy. As one critic said, these books go down, "...like a bag of Cheetos." Cheap, tasty thrills. I'd recommend "Still Life With Crows" as anyone's first Pendergast book, because it's a good stand alone book. Some of the others might disorient for being dependent on previous ones.
  7. Oct 15, 2014 #6
    Bulgakov "The Master and Margarita"
  8. Oct 15, 2014 #7


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    Old textbooks of College Algebra, and sometimes other related ones.
  9. Oct 17, 2014 #8

    Doug Huffman

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    Ahh, good, a contemporary book thread.

    I have not been able to enjoy fiction since the days of classical science fiction (hard sci-fi) when my education, training and career overwhelmed life. I tried while my daughter was discovering literature, Piers Anthony for instance.

    Late to the game, I just discovered Anathem by Neal Stephenson and am very impressed. I picked it up as anodyne to background reading for Smolin's impending The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: A Proposal in Natural Philosophy.

    I have on order Karl Popper's Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics: From the Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery.

    For the bibliophiles, I'll note that James Oliver Rigney, Jr. retired out of my office just about the time I arrived. You may know his pen names, Robert Jordan and Reagen O'Neal and Chang Lung. While he was married to Mrs. Admiral Popham, he often styled himself a flanneur, but in an electric-blue great coat and furry wide-brimmed hat with cane.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
  10. Oct 22, 2014 #9
    To relax hmmm...
    1.Introduction to Bosonic String theory by Polchinski
    2.Programming in FORTH
    3.Bad joakes for Physics forums
  11. Oct 22, 2014 #10
    Tom Clancy novels, Agatha Christie (if you like some puzzles), Stephen King - oh wait, you said relax :)
  12. Oct 22, 2014 #11
    Been reading "The Purpose of Driven Life".
  13. Oct 22, 2014 #12
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