Field of Science

What I read (2011)

(Grade A-F, no E's) Title-Author Additional thoughts

B+ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson Reasonably good story which I flew through in a couple of days. Mostly enjoyed the cultural differences reading a book written by a Swede and taking place in Sweden and translated into English. 

D- Science and Religion edited by Gary B. Fergren The subject of a blog post, but really a book containing mostly apologetics with a bonus chapter on Intelligent Design.

A Watchmen by Alan Moore & David Gibbons Just a great story.

B- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordin Interesting retelling of Greek Mythology in a modern age. Definitely for kids, but I prefer the classics.

B The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks Enjoyed it, but the ending wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly. 

B A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin Good storytelling, but the plot needs to start moving forward.

C Harriet Spies Again by Louise Fitzhugh Meh

B A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin A reread in preparation for A Dance with Dragons

A Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer Only Zimmer could get you to commiserate with life threatening parasites.

B The Escapement by KJ Parker 

C Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh A read this as a kid and read it to my kid. I remembered it a lot differently.

A The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris Excellent book. Did you republicns were not always insane?

B+ The Passage by Justin Cronin Good story, especially the first half.  Recommended reading by a server at a pub I frequent.

D The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown Kind of liked it the first time I read it when it was called The DaVinci Code.

B Lord Brocktree by Brian Jacques

A The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios All around good time reading. Makes a number of important points about science and society along the way.

B The Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson This story has to end soon. Although the books have gotten better. 

C+ The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

C Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan I read the first 7,8,9? books about 10 years ago and got sick of them. Started strong and then nothing happened to drive the story forward for about 5 books so Knife of Dreams sat on the shelf until this year.

A- The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins Great book on evolution (Not quite as good as The Ancestor's Tale). Some new ways of thinking about evolutionary concepts for me.

C Evil for Evil by K. J. Parker

A The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein Great book I read to my son, who of course loved it.

A Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects by Bertrand Russell Wow! and people say the New Atheists are mean and horrible. I guess they don't like Russell much either. 

A Jesus, Interrupted by Bart D. Ehrman Great description of the New Testament and issues therein.
B- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling The beginning of what I like to call the whiny years in the Harry Potter universe.

B Shadowheart by Tad Williams I've always thought Tad Williams was a good story teller, same applies here.

26 books this year (again). Only 6 were books I read to my son this year. Of the remaining 20: 13 were fiction for fun (holy crap no Terry Pratchett this year, must rectify that in 2012), 1 was biography/US history, 3 were philosophy/religion, and 3 were science (2 were biology).


Bend said...

I haven't read "The Rise of TR," but find your endorsement of it hardly inspiring. If it portrays TR as anything but insane, racist and warmongering, it has a great deficiency. I wouldn't argue that TR did nothing right (I do love the National Parks), but the man who "took Panama without consulting [his] cabinet" (his words) demonstrated a recklessness that makes GWB look positively restrained in his foreign policy and unfailingly respectful of other countries' sovereignty. Indeed his assertion that "I don’t think that any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man’s hands" sounds like Dick Cheney on a bad day.
He referred to "Negroes" as a "perfectly stupid race." Calling their presence in America, "the real problem." He had similarly unkind things to say about Native Americans, "I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth." He praised eugenicist Madison Grant and permitted, wihtout any opposition, programs for the forced sterilization of mentally handicapped. While many of these positions were depressingly common in turn-of-the-century America, it remains a mystery why any modern politician would acknowledge inspiration from someone who seemed to represent so many of the most vile sentiments of that era in history. Yet GWB, J.McCain and B.Obama have all embraced him. A shame really.

The Lorax said...

First of all The Rise of TR deals with the time until he becomes president. It ends with McKinley's assassination. Im reading about his presidency now
so most of your thoughts are irrelevant to the book I enjoyed.

Since Lincoln didn't want freed negroes living in the US, I probably shouldn't read about him either (and damn all those recent presidents who embrace him too.). I probably should stop reading Origin of Species too for the racists viewpoints, by todays standards, Darwin held.

Bend said...

I was quibbling more with the description of TR as sane relative to today's republicans.
It's a fair point about Lincoln, though I saw a special on PBS once where Cornel West was saying that after talking with Frederick Douglass, Lincoln became a converted equality warrior, but since I spend more time reading about people I don't like than people I do like, I'm not going to verify it (I can trust Cornel, he's a smart guy). Also, one would hope that TR would be half a century more enlightened than Lincoln with respect to racial relations; instead he was about the same place as Andrew Jackson who preceded the great emancipator by about as much time. More troubling about TR, however, was his belief in and pursuit of unlimited executive authority of the office of president-a kind of John Yoo philosophy on steroids. Particularly considering the abuse of GWOT policies by both GWB and BHO, TR should be the last person to inspire anyone who prefers the ACLU to G. Gordon Liddy.

The Lorax said...

Thanks for the response. Ill give you his attempts to latch onto executive power (Im not sure of a president who didn't want as much as possible).
However, based on my limited readings, he did much to promote equality and angered the South and much of the North by entertaining blacks, promoting blacks (or black supporting whites), and supporting blacks. For example, after white Mississippians chased off the black female postmaster with threats of lynching, Roosevelt closed the office until she was ale to return (the next closest office was 30 miles away). I do not know where the quote comes from, but I grant you that he said it. Remember he was born in 1858 not 1901, why do you expect his racial views to be so much more enlightened than they were? I guess Americans in general were big fans of racial justice in the 1960s a hundred years after the civil war. He said and did much regarding racial issues, maybe he should be judged in total.
I also think you have a fairly superficial view of how the decision to put the canal in Panama vs Nicaragua came about. (Also, the treaty had to be ratified by the senate so he could not unilaterally get this done without their consent.)

Bend said...

I don't expect TR to be a MLK. But someone we hold up as a hero should have have a balance of redeeming qualities. In terms of race, he was a big step backwards from those presidents who immediately preceded him. Shouldn't we expect progress from Lincoln to TR? Instead he reverted to the rhetoric of antebellum America. I hadn't heard that interesting story about the postmaster in Miss, but it certainly weakens my position.
I came across an article about the reaction of Edmund Morris when he learned that Obama was reading "The Rise of TR."
His description of TR, as he wrote in "Theodore Rex" is much less flattering, "a consummate manipulator of the press [who] dramatized and identified himself with the major issues of his day: racial prejudice, antitrust power, reclamation policy, Supreme Court reactionism, labor/management strife, and so on."
Unparalleled oratory skills coupled with flighty, popular and often ill-conceived policy. In my unforgiving opinion, TR reflects the worst of both modern parties coupled with a popularity that made him all the more dangerous. While modern politicians model themselves after him, they all fall far short, for which I thank God or Karma or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or something.