Book #24 – Microorganisms: From Smallpox to Lyme Disease

By Thomas D. Brock, ed. My poor sick green-faced sproglet is finally sleeping, and since she’s in my bed(*) I’m trapped at my desk doing quiet things, so I’m choosing from among the books on the shelf above my desk. This book seems apropos. Microorganisms is a good basic introductory text. Well-organized, decently written (more […]

Book #22: Wonderful Life

By Stephen Gould Fascinating stuff here. Stephen Gould is more often known for his natural history books aimed at casual readers (Bully for Brontosaurus and the like) — but this is not a book aimed at the general public. Wonderful Life is an exploration of the extraordinarily old, very different forms of life discovered in […]

Book #19: The Summer Tree

By Guy Gavriel Kay Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing gets a little purple in spots and the drama can tend to melodrama. He’s good at both character and storyline creation, though, so his books are fun despite the occasional soppy spots. The Summer Tree is the first book in the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy, which is an […]

Book #13: Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon Oh, this is fun stuff. There’s nothing highbrow or pretentious about Diana Gabaldon’s stuff, it’s just good, light, gripping historical fun. There’s a time every once in a while when I spend an awful lot of time for a few consecutive days sitting about waiting in doctor’s offices, and these are perfect […]

Book #12: Stardust

by Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman is a wonderful writer. He makes English bend to his clever whims in ways that make me terribly jealous. But for a seemingly nice guy ( you can read his journal here) he’s awfully cavalier with his protagonists, and he comes up with some elegantly creepy ideas. Stardust, though, is […]

Book #11 – Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt with Stephen J. Dubner I wasn’t terribly impressed with this book. But then, economics of any sort rarely impresses me; what’s the use of something with next-to-no predictive value? Economists are forever assuming away anything that doesn’t work with their theories. As a scientist I found the whole subject appalling when […]

Book #9: The Death and Life of Great American Cities

by Jane Jacobs Jane Jacobs died last April, shortly before her 90th birthday. I’m still sad. I really hoped she’d live forever. Ten years ago (!) when Citizens for Local Democracy was active, Jane Jacobs would give the most wonderful speeches at meetings, shuffling slowly up to the microphone in her white sneakers. I was […]

Book #7: The white bone

by Barbara Gowdy In The white bone Gowdy, author of the short story that was turned into the surprisingly sympathetic necrophilia movie Kissed (We So Seldom Look on Love) puts herself into the minds of elephants. The culture and language she imagines for the elephants are the book’s main successes; the story itself is heavy […]