Monday, July 08, 2024

-- Book Miscellany --


(only Ivory-bill-related mention in this post is at very end)

Since abandoning Elon Musk’s demolition of Twitter I have nowhere to mention books anymore… so, will kill some time citing a few here... mentioned 2 Amanda Montell books a bit ago and will now note a range of others I’ve enjoyed in the last 9 months (though few here will share my tastes). All nonfiction:

1)   Went back to read a bunch of Malcolm Gladwell’s compendiums, always delightful (hard to pick out a favorite; perhaps "Outliers"); don’t exactly remember why I had quit reading him long ago.

2)  However my all-time favorite essayist and columnist (the one I agree with, and relish, the most) is passionate Hal Crowther who unfortunately never had a wide national following, possibly because much (but by no means all) of his writing is focused on the South… those are the works I’ve been reading, but still my favorite, and the one to start with if you are unfamiliar with him (and can even find it) is the broader “Unarmed But Dangerous,” from 30 years ago:

3)   A few months back a friend noted how often in conversation I’d say “I'm pretty stoic about that…” and then informed me that “stoicism” is quite a hot topic these days!  Little did I know… sometimes treated as a philosophy or a religion or just an approach to life, and in any event several good books/intros to it in bookstores these days (won’t pick a favorite, but we need more stoicism these days!).

4)  One of the celebrities now into stoicism is none-other than Jerry Seinfeld, and I be a Seinfeld-groupie… his volume “Is This Anything?” is just a compendium of his stand-up jokes, which without the visuals, the nuances, the voice inflections, I didn’t think could be funny, but surprisingly loved (and laughed at) almost all of it, though weakened toward end. Probably only for Seinfeld fans, though.

5)  In pursuit of psycholinguistic interests, David Shariatmadari’s “Don’t Believe A Word” is a great read for lay readers, even while hitting upon a lot of academic issues in linguistics study.

6)  David Bessis' "Mathematica" -- fantastic new book about mathematics, from an (intuitive) angle I'd never seen before (and including almost no actual number-crunching); but only for definite math-fans.

7)  Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” fun read/advice about life and success (somewhat in the style of Malcolm Gladwell).

8)  Steven Pinker's 2021 "Rationality"; pretty basic, straightforward, well-done take from the popular academic writer.

9)  For more comedy relief (if Seinfeld isn’t your thing), oh my gosh, every birder should have Matt Kracht’s “The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World” on hand.

Probably another dozen+ volumes I've started in last 9 months, but if a book doesn't 'grab' me in first 25 pages I don't finish it :(

Will end with just an old link to a bit I posted over a dozen years ago about Tanner's volume "The Ivory-billed Woodpecker":


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