Tuesday, December 31, 2002
True story about the search for a ship that sank somewhere off the East Coast in 1857 with 21 tons(!) of gold on board. It's about an entrepreneur/scientist who puts together the venture for this search (including inventing all sorts of new technology, private funding, building his team, etc.) and how they found the ship in 1989. Fascinating story, well written. I couldn't put it down.
Monday, December 30, 2002
Excellent pulitzer prize-winning book. Heavy stuff (figuratively and literally; it’s 800 pages!), but an amazing story about extraordinary people. Well-written, and remarkably easy to read.
Saturday, December 28, 2002
Graham's Pulitzer prize winning autobiography - First third is pretty boring - socialite girl, growing up and getting married. Then her husband commits suicide and she takes over running the Washington Post. Great story.
Friday, December 27, 2002
Thursday, December 26, 2002
My favorite writer. Great stories, beautifully written.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Short stories about Einstein day-dreaming about different concepts of time. Incredibly creative book. Also read a book of his essays Dance for Two, which I enjoyed, and his second novel, Good Benito, which I didn’t like much.
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Boorstin is a historian and was librarian of congress for years. He has written prolifically and I've enjoyed everything of his I've read (also see The Discoverers). This is a series of essays subtitled Essays on the Unexpected, in which he “uncovers the elements of accident, improvisation and contradiction at the core of American institutions and beliefs.”
Monday, December 23, 2002
I re-read this recently, and - like the first time I read it - it was great. Essentially a history of science, but in classic Boorstin fashion, it's not a boring time-line of what happened when. He takes the time to go into detail about people and discoveries that he thinks are particularly interesting or important. And he asks (and answers) interesting questions - particularly the questions about why things didn't happen a different way.
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Saturday, December 21, 2002
Friday, December 20, 2002
Pulitzer prize winner. Excellent, very well written book that confirms how incredibly precarious the US was at the time it was founded. In the intro, Ellis describes the founding as "an improvisational affair in which sheer chance, pure luck - both good and bad - and specific decisions made in the crucible of specific military and political crises determined the outcome." And how the framework for our political institutions that was "built in a sudden spasm of enforced inspiration and makeshift construction."
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Great story of Amundsen and Scott’s race to the South Pole. The contrast between the very practical Amundsen (who won the race and survived the trip) and the arrogant Scott (who did neither) is amazing.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Monday, December 16, 2002
Very entertaining autobiographical anecdotes by the Nobel-prize-winning physicist who has a fantastic sense of humor and a child’s sense of playfulness. I also enjoyed What Do You Care What Other People Think?
My favorite of Conroy's – about a kid at military school. I also really enjoyed Prince of Tides. The Water is Wide is another great Conroy story – about a year he spent teaching on an impoverished island off the coast of S. Carolina. It’s scary that there are parts of the country seemingly living in a different time - but it’s a good story and well-written. I didn’t like Beach Music much.
Sunday, December 15, 2002
Saturday, December 14, 2002
Friday, December 13, 2002
Thursday, December 12, 2002
One of my all-time favorites. I first read Atlas when I was 12 or 13 and then reread it every few years into my twenties. In a 1991 Library of Congress survey, a majority of Americans named it second only to the Bible as the book that had most influenced their lives. I also enjoyed the The Fountainhead.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
About the space program by one of the earliest mission control flight directors (Gene Kranz was played by Ed Harris in the Apollo 13 movie... He was the guy who wore a white vest in mission control.) Not very well written, nor particularly insightful, and I would've liked more detail in several places (but I'm a space junkie, so I'm not representative of the broader audience this was obviously written for.) Nonetheless, interesting reading about very young, very smart guys, who carried enormous responsibilities while constantly working on the bleeding edge of technology...and obviously performed amazing feats. Imagine NASA as a start-up.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Gergen has been a Washington insider for decades, during which he’s worked closely with 4 presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton). In this book, he offers his assessment and insights on the leadership qualities of these 4 men.
Monday, December 09, 2002
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Historical novel about Charles Fremont (explorer and first (? or at least very early) governor of California. Also read Eagle's Cry, Nevin's novel about the Louisiana Purchase but didn't like it as much. Maybe because of personal interest rather than the content of the book, though.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Smart, entertaining book about 2 women in different centuries; story revolves around a chess set. Entertaining novel. Very clever. Her second and third novels, A Calculated Risk and The Magic Circle, were bad and worse.
Friday, December 06, 2002
Applies epidemiology to social change. Very easy read and fascinating. Also, check out Gladwell’s web site (www.gladwell.com) for the random, interesting articles he’s written for the New Yorker. (A few of these articles were the foundation for Tipping Point.)
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Clever, well-written mystery. It's a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Godel, Escher, Bach. And if you know anything about art/art history (which I don't), you'll probably like it even more, since the art world is the backdrop. I’ve subsequently read the rest of his books – all of which were disappointing.
Monday, December 02, 2002
Denby is a 40-something movie critic who returns to Columbia Univ. to take the Humanities Literature and Western Civ classes that all students are required to take. The book is about his thoughts on the books, the class discussions, the profs and the students as he takes these classes again 25 yrs after he took them as a freshman - and obviously with a perspective including 25 more years of "life experience".
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Krakauer is an experienced climber and writer for Outside Magazine who joined a 1996 Mt Everest expedition to write about the commercialization of the mountain. This is his first-hand account of the disasterous expedition on which 8 people died. Krakauer’s Into the Wild was also ok in a bizarre, 'rubbernecking at a car-wreck' type of way.