Write-up of some recent reading

I have unfortunately not had the time or discipline to write any reviews of books I finished reading the last few months. A bit late now to remember all the details, however I thought I would mention some of them just to keep count.

First out, we have What are you optimistic about? edited by John Brockman from edge.org. It is a collection of essays from more or less famous people in science and science journalism answering the question in the book title. Contributions from Dennett, Diamond, Doctorow, Dawkins; I have no idea why I just chose examples starting with the letter 'D', but there are many, many more authors (of almost every letter in the alphabet). Overall the essays are extremely thought provoking, and it is fascinating to experience all the different ideas. It should be said that some authors does of course focus very much on their own agenda and work, but many more just throw out very positive thoughts. It is really fun to read, and the fact that the essays are only from a single page up to just a few pages make this an ideal book to have in the bag. Just nice to pull up while taking a short bus ride or waiting for someone.

I have also read through Sun Tzu's classical The art of war. Of course, this is not a book to read, but a book to study. Still, I am no warrior, or even spending any time in situations where such strategic advice could be very useful, so I think I can get away by simply reading it. (There are usually different kinds of editions of the Art of war market-like targeted for different kind of people. You can usually see them at airport book shops. The art of war for business for instance… why would you want someone to interpret the wisdom for you? What if they are wrong? I am worried enough that I can not read the original language of Master Sun…) However, it is a classic book, and it is a very interesting read because it still provokes many thoughts. Especially in this day and time. I guess much of wisdom that Master Sun learned and took the pain of writing down 2500 years ago or so still has not gotten in to some military heads today… I think people should read this book! It is interesting, you can find it online for free, but I got the really beautiful little edition from Penguin Books.

The third book I wanted to mention is the first instalment in the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson : Quicksilver. A fried had borrowed me all three books in the series for a couple of years after I told him that I really enjoyed reading Cryptonomicon. I let the books be for a long time, because I had so many non-fiction books in the queue. I must also admit that I was kind of sceptical to the fact that some of the protagonists in Quicksiver shared names with those of Cryptonomicon, but set in a different time. It did not feel really right. However, I guessed that I worried too much. Once I started reading in April I was hooked. Really hooked. It was a great piece of fiction. It is of course a dramatic interpretation of scientific history, and I guess that some people may complain a bit about that. On the other hand, I bet that Stephenson has done some really thorough research before he started writing, and I do think it is a great way of presenting some very important breakthroughs in modern civilisation. There are fictional books about real wars and other sad things, why not about science and economy (though, personally I count science as positive, but am a bit sceptical about economy)? In any case, it is a great adventure book, and I would jump right on to the second book in the series, but as we are in the process of leaving Europe for a couple of years (2 x 23 kg is what you can bring on that flight) I have returned the books to my friend. I guess I will have to grab them from the first book store when we got our new home set up.