Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Reading Update

While Avrora and Lyuda were off visiting with her family just prior to TDay, I got a lot of things done. In fact, so much so that I have to wonder - if we can really afford it (HA!) - that we shouldn't plan on something like this biannually so I can get caught up on all the extraneous things that get tossed by the family roadside. One of the nice things is that when the world wound down after 10ish pm, I got to read and read I did. I tackled a couple paleo books and a history book already mentioned in one of my few, few alt-history posts. I also tackled a book on global warming by a popsci writer (can't discuss a book w/o reading it first) and a couple sf books.

The first book was that of The Evolution of Vertebrate Design. This book and the one I have partially completed - Dinosaurs, Spitfires, and Sea Dragons - I strongly recommend for someone that's a nonspecialist wanting to underrstand more on how vertebrates evolved into what they are and how they function. They are both a little dated, but they give a good run down on a lot of how the body works and how it came to be in a mostly nontechnical way. However, if you have basical knowledge in the area, I am warning you off except to read about the icthyosaurs in the latter book, really. The latter book I am almost finished with now.

The history book that I munched through was The Crusades Through Arab Eyes. It was pretty good and it was fascinating to see the divergence in views about the Crusades. In the West people either see it as a valiant attempt to retake the Holy Land or as a massive embarrassment. We still use the expression of someone out to save the world or change the course of history as a 'crusader', so despite the more recent viewing of the crusades as something to be ashamed of, it still resonates in a positive way on some level. The interesting thing by reading this book was that the Crusades are viewed as a great rape of the Arab world by the Occidentals (West). There were bits that diverged quite a bit: the West plays up an almost amicable relationship between Richard Lionheart and Saladin whereas tCTAE ignores, discounts or recasts their relations completely. Part of the reason that I wanted to read this book was that I adhere to an opinion that when recounting events, especially personal, but also at times historical, there's your story, my story, and somewhere in the middle the truth. I'm weighing how true it is here.

I also read Six Degrees. Hmmm. This is not a bad book. It glosses over a lot. It sides with the Neo-Oligocene scenario (hotter, drier). I tend to subscribe to the NeoEocene scenario. I have a massive, bloated blog post coming from this. The damned thing is almost cancerous in its growth. No, I won't let it be a blogpost Singularity. Do read it: be skeptical of the scenario.

In SF reading, I read Scalzi's Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades. Light, yummy mind candy. Not sure I buy the premise, but definitely interesting.


Unknown said...

Loved Old Man's War, but haven't gotten around to his others yet.

McGowan's books are pretty good. I've read several of his.

Will Baird said...

I'm definitely a hmm on McGowan. OMW was interesting, but I don't buy the premise. How did humanity luck out that we weren't colonized by a more aggressive species if there are that many sentients and so close.