Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Pile Status II

I'm somewhat disappointed with myself in the last month and a half, my reading rate is not what I would have wished.  And I realized today that aside from the books listed in this post and my previous status update, I have only read two other books this year.  Two.  Both on spring break.  I suppose it's an indication of how busy I was but I can't help feeling disappointed in myself.  Ugh.  Anyway...

I finished The 4% Universe, which doesn't really count as coming from the pile because it was a graduation present.  Still, it was a fascinating read, telling the story of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating universe.  The book discusses the history of cosmology, and its title refers to the fact that "normal" (baryonic) matter only comprises 4% of the universe.  The rest is comprised of dark matter and dark energy.  I thought this book was quite well written, and some of the phrases were downright amusing and fun to read.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century by Tom Shippey took up most of my reading time this month.  I thought it was a biography, but it turned out to be literary criticism.  I still enjoyed reading it.  Shippey is a philologist, as Tolkien was (he even worked with Tolkien at one point) so he spent a lot of time digging into the linguistic and literary background for Middle Earth and its inhabitants. He also talked a lot about Tolkien's writing process and about the appeal of the books. My vocabulary for discussing literature isn't very strong, so I felt like Shippey articulated some of my love for Tolkien's writing that I didn't quite know how to explain.

Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland, visited my undergrad last fall to give a talk.  I was intrigued at the time, but the book was much better (during his talk, he seemed to focus on the more shocking stories he tells in the book, and less on the discussion and sociological explanation/implications).  I wish I had read it before I left college, because I would have loved to talk with some of the guys I knew while we were still in that environment.  It made me think a lot about the ways in which I react to situations involving guys and how I might have changed my interactions with the guys in my care when I was a residence assistant.  Kimmel also talks about the negative effect that Guyland has on women, and gives some brief ideas on the ways they can reject that culture.

I'm almost done with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  That one doesn't actually come from the book pile either; I'm reading a Project Gutenberg copy on my Nook and listening to some chapters on LibriVox.  I saw the BBC miniseries about a month ago, and started the book in response.  It's pretty decent, although I wish I had read it before watching the miniseries because my opinion is clouded now.  I can keep them separate when I read before I watch, but it's harder when I've watched the adaptation first.

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