If I haven’t been writing here much it is because I’ve been doing a lot of heavy reading lately. I’ve been reading a lot about artificial intelligence lately, and that led to math and physics. In there were a couple of good biographies: The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age by David N. Schwartz and The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac to name just a few. I’ve also been making my way through Richard Rhodes’ Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb.
These books have led to others: Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe by Steven Strogatz to refresh myself on calculus. And also a biography of Kurt Gödel, Journey to the Edge of Reason by Stephen Budianski. These books lead to other books, and some of the reading that I have on tap includes two books by Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality, the latter of which is something like a magnum opus.
And then, there’s history. Last summer we did our first trip overseas family trip to Ireland. This summer, we’re returning to Europe, this time to Italy, Switzerland and France. I’ve been to Italy before, but not to Switzerland or France. Knowing we’re going to Italy has been wanting to revisit Italian history before we got. I thought I’d reread Will Durant’s The Renaissance. And then, I realized that since I love Durant’s writing style so much, why not take the opportunity to go back and read the first five books of his Story of Civilization. So that is on-deck as well. And since I’m rereading things, why not also add Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci in the mix.
Between all of this heavy reading, I need to lighten the load. I re-read an old Jack McDevitt novel, The Engines of God and am looking forward to reading his latest Alex Benedict novel, Village in the Sky. As I make my way through Dark Sun, I’ve been surprised by how the first part of the book focuses on Russian espionage into the Manhattan project. It made me crave spy stories, and so 23 years after I first read them, I’m re-reading some of the Jack Ryan novels, in particular the heavy ones: Debt of Honor, Executive Orders, and The Bear and the Dragon.
I generally set a goal of 100 books per year, and I’m well off-pace so far this year, but the books I have been reading lately have been heavy in mass as well as subject. (Executive Orders is over 1,300 pages; Age of Faith by Will Durant is about the same.) The volume of my reading lately is as much as ever.
And this probably explains, at least in part, why I’ve been absent here. I’ll try to do better, but I’ve got a lot of reading to do before our trip this summer.
Written on Valentine’s Day, 2023.
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