what're you reading now?

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what're you reading now?



I think the other threads are buried in culture, so I'm going to start a new one right here.

I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed the new book [url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01E5DD1E31F936A1575AC0A...'s Formula[/url], whose first chapter you can read [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/books/chapters/0925-1st-pound.html?ex=.... I highly recommend it. It's entertaining popular science, and if you're fascinated by gambling, the mob, or investment systems, you'll enjoy it.

I'm currently in a bit of a geek phase, reading some of my old probability and statistics textbooks. Yes, I do that. I'm also reading Peter Galison's superb and very large book, [url=http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/09/14/reviews/970914.14riordat.html]Image and Logic[/url], which I began after bumping into a couple of friends who work in financial mathematics and use [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monte_Carlo_method]Monte Carlo methods[/url] in their work. One long chapter (100 pages) deals with the origin of Monte Carlo methods in the atom bomb project, where they were developed by Stan Ulam and the disgustingly ubiquitous Johann von Neumann (coinventor of game theory, quantum physicist, and coinventor of the computer) at Los Alamos. Galison touches on all these subjects in this chapter, as well as the metaphysical implications of Monte Carlo methods, their challenge to the experiment-theory disjunct, and the status of Monte Carlo methods as a kind of pidgin or "trading zone" where different disciplines within and beyond physics could meet and converse. A superb book so far.

I'm also reading Patricia Monture's outstanding book, [url=http://www.ammsa.com/bookreviews/journeyforward.html]Journeying Forward[/url]. Not a very helpful review, but the book is terrific.

I think though, that I shall soon be on the lookout for some fluff to read. Suggestions welcome.


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=17&t=000321]L... to the most recent "What're you reading now?" thread (in the writers' circle forum). I was thinking of starting a new one too, as it was getting a bit long.

Papal Bull

Christopher Dawson's Religion and the Rise of Western Culture.

Required reading for my course. I don't much care for it.

Oh, and the Domesday Book.


I think for my light reading I'll start [i]The Man Without Qualities[/i] by Robert Musil. It's been on the "to read" list for too long. Has anyone here read it?

Rand McNally

I love the book threads. I am storming through "The Blitzkrieg Myth" by J. Mosier. According to him much of the received wisdom on how the Germans exploited new tactics, and technologies is mistaken. Very interesting, and controversial.

For a course I am doing I just finished up “The Real World of Technology” by Ursula Franklin, it is part of the CBC’s Massey lectures series. (A old prof of mine used to joke that there where the masses and the Masseys in Canada. He thought it was a funny.) I think someone at the Military College thought it would be fun to inflict a feminist, leftist, Quaker on the officer corp.

Finally, for pure enjoyment, with no attempt at self-improvement I just started “Dune Messiah”; I read Dune a couple years ago, and thought is was one of the better sci-fi books I had read, so I thought it was time to continue with the series.


Last night I started reading "The Wars over Evolution" by Richard Lewontin, in the current issue of the NY Review of Books -- hey! [url=http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18363]it's online! for once![/url] (NYRB 52, no. 16 [20 October 2005])

Lewontin is an exceptionally fluid thinker, methinks. I am enjoying his balancing acts very much. I wish I could remember how he puts things.


What could have seemed more obvious to the mid-nineteenth-century observer than the transformation of a relatively "homogeneous" society, characterized by the "simple" agrarian life with the rural village its center, into one marked by the booming, buzzing "heterogeneous" confusion of life in industrial Manchester and London?

Darwin himself avoided implications of general progress or of directionality. It should be noted that his great work is unideologically titled On the Origin of Species, not On Evolution, and the word "evolution" nowhere appears in the first edition of that work, which thus neatly avoids, by intent or not, any implication of an unfolding of a progressive program. Equally revealing is the title of his work on human evolution, a field in which its more recent practitioners find notions of progress and directionality all too tempting. Darwin's title is The Descent of Man.[3] The theory of evolution was not a product of a commitment to progress but a reaction to a consciousness of the instability of the social structures that characterized the bourgeois revolutions and the radical changes in them. The Founding Fathers did not promise us all eventual happiness, but only the freedom to run in pursuit of it.

I don't need the last sentence, but I like the rest of that paragraph. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 09 October 2005: Message edited by: skdadl ]


I'm reading a book by Chuck Palahniuk.

But I can't talk about it....


A short novel by Maggie Helwig , "Between Mountains". A story about 2 people torn by the war in the former Yugoslavia.
The woman in the story is an interpreter and the man a journalist, from their vantage points as non partisan observers of the carnage of the conflict, one gets a picture of the damage war can do,even at a distance.
I thought it was very good.


faith, 'Between Mountains' is an amazing novel. But Maggie Helwig's work always blows me away. For me, she is probably Canada's best left wing, committed writer. Read her poetry, wow!

I am reading 'Christ the Lord' by Anne Rice. Yes the Anne Rice! (I have an advance copy) It is a novel about the early years of Jesus based on her reading of New Testament scholarship. She has returned to the Catholic church and apparently she is more inclined to conservative theology or at least when it comes to biblical criticism and redaction. To compliment it I am reading 'A Jewish Understanding Of The New Testament' by Rabbi Samuel Sandmel. Lets argue about dates and not the ones the apostles may or may not have been eating.

HACK (splatter)

Newman's [i]Secret Mulroney Tapes.[/i] It leaves you almost feeling sorry for Muldoon.


[i]The Good War[/i] by Studs Terkel.

The difference between the struggles for equality among women and Blacks is striking. Women were given jobs that they had never had before; Blacks were given stevedore jobs and shot if they spoke up.


[i]Who Murdered Chaucer?[/i] by Terry Jones and a bunch of English professors. A good read; they argue that he could have been murdered, finger their favourite suspect and explain why he would have wanted to get rid of Chaucer and maybe have censored his work. They also explain the political and social background well, and the political maneuvering of various players.

Their evidence about Chaucer is mostly negative and they admit no one can say for sure what happened to him. His own copies of his poems are missing, and there is no will, etc.; but they do have actual evidence of censorship of illustrations to his Canterbury Tales. I don't quite trust English professors writing about history, but I have to trust a Monty Python member. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

And the book is beautiful, on shiny paper with little illustrations on most pages, so it resembles an illuminated manuscript.


I just finished Paul Williams Roberts' stunning [i]War Against Truth[/i], his first-person account of the American rape of Iraq. I picked it up on the strength of a glowing recommendation by the Globe & Mail editors -- after he won the PEN award, they felt compelled to write a furious McCarthyist denunciation of Roberts' "anti-Americanism" and "conspiracy thinking", always an indication that someone's on the right track. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

This book achieved the rare feat of leavening an excrutiatingly painful story with a bleak, ironic sense of humour that often had me laughing uproariously. Roberts has an eye for the absurdity of war as well as the horror.

The horror lingers, though. My hatred for Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld is burning pretty fucking brightly right now. [img]mad.gif" border="0[/img]


I think I posted in one of these threads last time I was reading it, but right now I'm reading Dahlgren by Sam Delaney. I read it this summer, but I suspect it's one of those books that I'll have to re-read several times.

I'm also doing my course readings, as per usual.


I'm reading [i]Homosexualities[/i] by Stephen O. Murray published by the University of Chicago Press.

From the inside flap:


In Homosexualities, one of the world's leading authorities on global homosexualities has produced a magnum opus. Breathtaking in its historical and geographical scope, Stephen O. Murray's landmark work provides a sweeping examination of the construction of male and female homosexualities, stressing both the variability of the forms same-sex desire can take and the key recurring patterns it has formed throughout history. From imperial China to Tudor England, and from medieval Egypt to the Ottoman Empire to modern-day Japan, Murray expertly explores the full range of both behavior and meaning in same-sex relationships.

Stephen is also the authour of [i]American Gays[/i]

Makwa Makwa's picture

Autobiography of a blue-eyed devil : my life and times in a racist, imperialist society /
by Muscio, Inga.


Someone murdered Chaucer? And I am six centuries behind on that news?!? [img]eek.gif" border="0[/img]

Oh, beluga, I would like to read the Roberts too. Wasn't the Grope editorial silly? During the invasion, they actually published some of his reports -- I mean, the reports were so good: how could they not?

The one I especially remember was his looting report -- he described what everyone else was doing and even admitted to picking up a few items himself (not historic treasures). It was wryly funny but also very efficiently condemnatory -- is that report in the book?


Beluga2, I missed your post. That book looks really interesting.

Makwa, yours too. I'm heading to the book store today to see if I can round them up.


Yeah, the looting bit's in there -- specifically, he looted stuff from Uday Hussein's palace, including some of his kitschy party clothes. Roberts makes the place sound like a combination between a macabre torture chamber and a nouveau riche 70's bachelor pad. [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

The book's like that -- one moment you'll be giggling away, a couple pages later he'll be standing at the bedside of a mutilated Iraqi child as she slowly dies a painful, senseless death. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

That Globe editorial was indeed ludicrous -- they even resorted to a lame-ass attempt to smear Roberts as a Saddam sympathizer, something which can be easily refuted by reading any random page of [i]War Against Truth[/i]. His loathing for the previous regime is palpable.

HACK (splatter)

Venus DeMilo's [i]Farewell to Arms.[/i]

heh heh heh

heh heh



yes . . .

well. [img]frown.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 05 November 2005: Message edited by: HACK (splatter) ]


HACK, that is so bad, that is soooooo bad, that it probably deserves an award. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


See, skdadl, you never know what thread may o-PUN the door to such wit.

Nice to know I'm not the only punster around. Say, I wonder if we need a thread about puns???

Hmmmmmm! endless possibilities! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]



HACK, that is so bad, that is soooooo bad, that it probably deserves an award.

Award? [i]Award[/i]?! Why, that's so atrocious it calls for immediate suspension, and furthermore...

What? What's with the rolling eyes and mutters of "professional jealousy, 'lance, professional jealousy"? Don't [i]you[/i] get your back up when someone works your side of the street?

Oh, very well... (ruckusfruckussourbiscuitbatter, TMthe-once-and-forever Dawna Matrix...)

Well done, HACK (splatter), very well done. I wish I'd said that.

(BABBLERS (in weary chorus):

You will, 'lance. You will...

[i]Exeunt[/i], leaving 'lance looking sheepish, but admiring).


Dennis Lehane - Mystic River


When Sean Devine and Jimmy Marcus were kids, their fathers worked together at the Coleman Candy plant and carried the stench of warm chocolate back home with them. It became a permanent character of their clothes, the beds they slept in, the vinyl backs of their car seats. Sean's kitchen smelled like a Fudgsicle, his bathroom like a Coleman Chew-Chew bar. By the time they were eleven, Sean and Jimmy had developed a hatred of sweets so total that they took their coffee black for the rest of their lives and never ate dessert.

radiorahim radiorahim's picture

"The Border" by James Laxer (found it on sale at Chapter's for $5.00 this week).


Insightful, prescient and often funny, The Border explores what it means to be Canadian and what Canada means to the giant to our south.

If good fences make good neighbours, do we have the sort of fence that will allow us to maintain neighbourly relations with the world’s only superpower?

In The Border, well-known political scientist and journalist James Laxer explores this question by taking the reader on a compelling 5000-mile journey into culture, politics, history, and the future of Canadian sovereignty.

Long ignored (or celebrated) as “the world’s longest undefended border,” the line between us and the US is now a stress point. The attacks on the World Trade Center announced to the world that North America is no longer a quiet neighbourhood and made our relationship with the US one of the most pressing questions facing Canadians.


It's a few years old now, but John O'Farrel's "Things can only get better: eighteen miserable years in the life of a labour supporter" is the funniest book I have ever read. From the back cover: It's a personal account of a Labour supporter who survived 18 miserable years of COnservative government." It reminded me of the time I spent in the NDP youth... hilarious.



I'm reading [url=http://www.anneapplebaum.com/gulag/gulag.html]Gulag: A History[/url]. Boy talk about your deformed communist experiment.

HACK (splatter)

I read GG&S a few years ago. Interesting thesis, probably with some merit - but like all attempts to explain the world, he likely missed something in there.

I'm currently ensnared by Patrick O'Brien's famous naval fiction series. Not normally my thing at all - I tend to science fiction for the most part - but I picked one up in an airport awhile ago, and now find myself helpless before the damned things. I daresay it's affecting my married life as well. And there are another 18 books remaining in the damned series.

It is surely affecting my diction - I find myself thinking in terms used by English sailors in the Napoleonic war (avast that infernal telephone!) No doubt I will soon come a cropper.


One point about GG&S is that Diamond is not trying to explaing the whole world. He IS trying to explain why white people are rich without using racist arguments.

Of course, at the moment that does rather look like the whole world.

Also, I don't know of any contending theories on the subject (at least, non racist ones).


Fair enough - I actually find his arguments and ideas fairly interesting, though I did drift a bit when he started getting into the background behind the current racial composition of Africa.

So no, he wasn't purporting to explain quantum physics, but he was attempting to explain the roots of our current world circumstances by debunking racist assumptions.

Unsurprisingly, Euros and their descendents are richer due to a combination of luck and circumstance. One of the most interesting analyses he made was in his discussion if China - why weren't they on top?


Probably one of the most substantiated parts of the argument, it is well within the historical record.


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=21&t=001283&p... thread discussed Guns, Germs and Steel.[/url]


'The Source' a novel by James Michener. Starts out on a dig in 1960s Israel, goes back in time and then recreates the multilayered history from there. I really enjoyed his 'Poland' and I like epics.


I'm presently reading China Mi


I'm reading Sweetness in the Belly, by Camilla Gibb. I've never read anything by her before, but I'm really enjoying this one.

Has anyone read David Bergen's Giller-winning book, The Time In Between?

Dr. Geek

I'm currently reading "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler, but I'm not sure I'll finish it. I sort of enjoyed his earlier book "The Geography of Nowhere," but when he extends his reach it far exceeds his grasp. Some people aren't qualified to comment on geopolitics, and I suspect he is one.

I'm also working on "The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man" by Robert Price. An interesting analysis of the historical Jesus from a real historian's perspective.

Plus lots of super-interesting technical papers on alternative fuels, jet structures, emission controls, etc, for school...


You guys have all the fun. Andre Lamothe's "A Second Chance at Game Programming" and Grant Palmer's "Physics for Game Programmers." Weee


I'm trying to complete those parts of the science fiction canon I have yet to read, so I'm reading Ray Bradbury's [i]Fahrenheit 451[/i].

At halfway, my impression is that Bradbury simply doesn't have Orwell's command of human drama (not that Orwell was a master, but he was at least a very able novelist by the end of his career). He throws out dystopian ideas by the dozen, but frequently fails to give them as much dramatic import or imaginative force as they seemingly should have, which is all the more glaring given that his ideas and the events he portrays are so heavy-handed as it is. He doesn't seem to have the patience necessary to allow his ideas to grow over time and build force. If the latter half of the novel reflects the first, I suppose he'll remain in my mind, at least as far as Fahrenheit 451 goes, another Asimov: a man of ideas who conveys them through fiction, moreso than writer of fiction possessed of important ideas.

Soul Rebel

I am reading "an oldie, but a goodie." [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img] It is called "Human Destiny" and was published in 1947. The author, a brilliant French scientist named Lecomte du Nouy, began writing the book during the dying days of the Second World War. Although written 60 years ago, the book's message is so relevant that it could have been written today. Basically, du Nouy writes about how human consciousness is the product of evolution and that human consciousness is poised for another leap forward in evolution. The clarity of the writing is striking. And the ideas expressed in the book would be familiar to anyone who watched "What the Bleep do We Know?" or has read anything about conscious evolution.


I just finished the illustrated 'Maus' by Art Spiegelman. It's the first such format I've read.

An amazing book that gave more understanding of the Holocaust's impact on an individual than any other I've read.

It's no wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize. I've rarely laughed abd cried so much.


As a cat, I have serious misgivings about Maus.

Not only have we never been Nazis - Cocteau famously said "J'aime les chats, parce qu'il n'y aura jamais de chats policiers" and the more right-wing among us tend to be haughty and most individualistic aristocrats, it is important to remember the horrible persecutions we have endured over the centuries in Christendom.

HACK (splatter)

No doubt you're voting for the Cat Nip Party?

Jim Rodger


Originally posted by Yst:
[b]I'm trying to complete those parts of the science fiction canon I have yet to read, so I'm reading Ray Bradbury's [i]Fahrenheit 451[/i].

At halfway, my impression is that Bradbury simply doesn't have Orwell's command of human drama (not that Orwell was a master, but he was at least a very able novelist by the end of his career). [/b]

Yst, I'm not a huge fan of either Bradbury or Orwell although they each have very important things to say. On balance, I think I prefer Bradbury as a writer of fiction, though, as I find him generally more subtle than Orwell. But going away from fiction, Orwell is to my way of thinking perhaps the best English language essayist of the last 100 years. You can open any of the four volumes of his collected letters and essays to almost any page and instantly encounter brilliant insights incomparably expressed.

As to my current reads, there are two on the go:
[i]The Stories of Vladimir Nabokov[/i] and [i]The Case of Comrade Tulayev[/i] by Victor Serge. The first I am reading to determine whether Nabokov was a one trick pony ([i]Lolita[/i], of course, and I don't think he was based on the short story evidence) and the second to compare it with Arthur Koestler's [i]Darkness at Noon[/i] (also about the Stalinist purges in the 1930s). No decision yet in the Serge vs. Koestler sweepstakes...need to finish Serge and then think about it for a while.


I'm reading books on investing:
Unemotional Investing
Motley Fool Investment Guide
Beat the Street by Peter Lynch

and a foo foo book: The Perfect Cover, by Maureen Tan.

My TBR pile is a mile high.


tallyho -- Have you checked out the "picture book" thread or the rabble review on graphic novels [url=http://www.rabble.ca/reviews]www.rabble.ca/reviews[/url] ? If you liked Maus (anti-catness aside), you'll find other good graphic offerings to check out next.


With all the election talk I just picked up and read/flipped through (it took all of 20 minutes to do so) "The Little Book of Canadian Political Wisdom" by Rick Broadhead and Andy Donato. It's basically a collection of verbal bloopers by politicians and it's a real giggle. Here's a sample:

"You know, if all of us quit breathing, can you imagine how much carbon dioxide we could avoid sending into the atmosphere?" - Ralph Klein, Feb 2002

"Paul Martin commits to positions like Britney Spears commits to marriage." - Stephen Harper, Jan 2004

"If you're a mayor and you have a problem, what do you do? You blame the provincial government. And when you're the provincial government and you have a problem, what do you do? You blame the federal government. And for us, we cannot blame The Queen any more, so we blame the Americans once in a while." - Jean Chretien, March 1995

When school or work calls for heavier reading, a fun little book like this can be a nice break.


Lewis Carroll - The Hunting of the Snark (illustrated by Ralph Steadman)


Jonathan Kozol - "Still Separate, Still Unequal: America's educational apartheid", in Harper's Magazine, Sept. 2005.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

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