If you’re on the beach and you see a skinny 50 something with a big gut carrying more than one of these books, chances are you found me. Here’s how they ended up piled on my desk and in my hands.
The Trouble With Physics – Lee Smolin. I paid attention to the name and book because he wrote a blurb for Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget, which is an intriguing read, though I’m not sure how much I’ll end up agreeing with him.
I was reminded of the Lanier (which I avoided when it first came out because I did not want to be disabused of my open source bias) by Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows.
Warning Shadows – Gary Giddins. Didn’t know this was coming, but I buy everything Giddins writes. The book’s look back at a specific (though broad) sweep of movies fits well with Duke Ellington’s America, Ellington being on my mind this summer. Both were found on random walks through bookstores.
Whole Earth Discipline – Stewart Brand. This book connects two of my favorite topics – contrarian thought and hacking/making, and led me to Hack The Planet by Eli Kintisch. (Edit – Though now that I think about it, I may have seen reference to Brand in a review of Hack.)
Like a lot of other people, I’m also wrapped up in Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, the most contrary tale you’ll read this year. Got that one from the heavy media coverage.
And all of them have as ancestors this spring in Stanley Fish’s Save The World On Your Own Time and the widely praised Shop Class As Soulcraft, both being contrarian in the best possible way – they’re like big flashing signs that say “This Way Out.”
(Edit – I forgot that I finally finished Logicomix, a ‘made for comic books’ biography of Bertrand Russell. It’s honorable, but doesn’t quite get escape velocity and become a comic book, as opposed to a novel with pictures. Also, I raced through Greg Bear’s Forge of God and Anvil of Stars, both of which reminded me of how strange the future could be.)