That Whole Rigamarole

Saturday, July 30, 2005

About Books

Tagged by Matt Barr, I am finally stirred to describe some of my relationship with books.
  • Number of books I own: Many hundreds, if you count my wife's and mine together. We have I think 4 tall bookcases in the spare bedroom that are full, I have full shelves at work, and there are some boxes here and there, plus the kids' books.
  • Last book I bought: The Evolutionists by Richard Morris, and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte. I bought the Morris to be more up-to-date about evolution, since it remains a controversial subject, especially around here. The Tufte is a classic that I read while I worked at Motorola, and wanted to own for myself.
  • Last book I read: The Einstein Paradox: And Other Science Mysteries Solved by Sherlock Holmes. This is kind of a silly book that covers some oddities of modern physics in the guise of Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • Books that have meant a lot to me: Parliament of Whores stirred or renewed my interest in politics. O'Rourke subsequently became my favorite author. The Goal changed the way I do my work, and probably the way I think about systems of all kinds. Understanding Variation by Dr. Don Wheeler also had a huge effect on my thinking, career-related and otherwise. If you are scared of statistics but want to understand data around you, read Wheeler. I read Catch-22 at a young age (13, maybe?) and I laughed and laughed. Maybe I was supposed to have a more thoughtful reaction, but I didn't. In the back of US Army Field Manual 22-100 (Leadership) is a reading list. The Forgotten Solder, by Guy Sajer appears there. This is a memoir by an Alsatian who fought in the German infantry on the Eastern Front during World War 2. It's astounding. It will probably cause you to reconsider your view of the limits of human endurance. The New York Times review blurb on the Amazon page reads ""I don't think that anyone who reads [it] to the end will ever forget it." I read this book 20 years ago while I was still an Army ROTC cadet, and some of the scenes have stayed with me to this day.
Reading was my most important activity as a kid, I could probably say a lot more about what books have meant to me, but I think this is enough for now. I don't have enough blog energy to tag anybody else, so I think I'll just close.


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