May 28, 2009, 12:54 pm
Somebody in the comments wondered how I have time to read so much.. Part of it is simply that reading is my only real hobby (scuba? Sure – one week a year. Reading? 51 weeks a year). So I literally spend my time either in front of my computer or reading – and I don’t waste it on commuting.
Another part obviously ends up being that I’m just a fast reader. Oh, I know people who read faster, but if it’s some easily read sci-fi or fantasy, I’ll read at a pace of 100-150 pages per hour, and you simply cannot distract me while I’m reading. Try to talk to me, and I won’t hear a word.
So most books I finish in a single sitting, and weekends I might read two books in a day. The more sciency books I read take longer, but that may explain why I probably average about three books per week, and sometimes do many more – especially during the later parts of the merge window when things aren’t as hectic on the kernel front.
Anyway, the haul over the last couple of weeks has been mostly random stuff (Fire Upon the Deep by Vernon Vinge, Golden Torc by Simon Green, Turn Coat by Jim Butcher, The Laurentine Spy by Emily Gee). Don’t ask me what the common thread is, because there is none. Some were randomly picked up from the book store in desperation over not having anything at all to read, others were things I’d read the authors before. I enjoyed them all, in different ways.
On the non-fluff front, I read Phantoms int he Brain by V.S. Ramachandran, based on a recommendation in the comments of the last reading post. I have to say, it is a better book than The Brain that Changes Itself (the one that triggered the recommendation), but at the same time I was also a bit disappointed with it.
Why? All the chapters on different disorders were absolutely fascinating, but then the last chapter just stood out as a big disappointment. It seems that any time that people start discussing “qualia” and guessing about what consciousness is, otherwise sane and coherent people end up being just confused and crazy (example: Roger Penrose). Ramachandran avoids the outright crazy, but chapter 12 ended up being a big disappointment to an otherwise engrossing book for me. But even that disappointing chapter had interesting content in it.
So, highly recommended, despite the small nagging feeling that the last chapter really could have been so much better. Most of the book is about the fascinating ways the brain fails at what it’s supposed to do, and what it teaches us about how people really function.
The other non-fluff book was Bart Ehrman’s “Jesus Interrupted”, a kind of follow-up to the earlier Misquoting Jesus that I read some time ago. Bible study is actually fairly interesting, although in many ways I always thought the Old Testament was way more interesting. Ehrman, of course, concentrates pretty much exclusively on just the New Testament, with just passing mention of OT issues as they relate to NT issues. The book was also the inspiration for the current kernel naming (“Man-Eating Seals of Antiquity”), since it fit perfectly with my pattern of nonsensical animal-related naming scheme.
Recommended. Not nearly as engrossing as Phantoms, but an interesting read none-the-less.