Sunday, May 15, 2011

My New Toy

I recently purchased a Nook Color. Apart from being a great e-reader, the Nook Color has been updated to a tablet with the introduction of Android software. You can browse the web, watch YouTube videos, even listen to Pandora radio while reading your books. But enough about that, this is not an advertisement for Nook (but I'd gladly do one). What I'd like to talk about is a few of the GREAT books that I have enjoyed during the three weeks or so that I've owned it.

The first was The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker. This book is basically a love letter to the footnote. A 100+ page book about a man's trip up an escalator. An homage to the self-referencing super computer that is the human brain. It reminded me in a lot of ways of one of my favorite books about consciousness, I Am A Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter (which you should also check out). This book is great and I will definitely be reading more by Nicholson Baker (Human Smoke is next on my list from him).

The next book that I read on my Nook was The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. I can't say enough good things about it. The book is basically a celebration of free trade and free markets, and it make a clear argument for Ridley's belief that (despite the pessimism that permeates in particular) the world is always getting better. Ridley writes about science in a way that makes it easy for goofs like me to understand what he is saying. And when he points out facts like the average life expectancy has DOUBLED over the last fifty years, it's hard to argue with his premise. If you only listen to one recommendation that I make, do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK!!!

I also just finished The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I failed to read many of the "classics" that you are supposed to read as a young person (basketball consumed my every thought in high school..not even girls could compete). I read "Gatsby" as a first step towards getting caught up. I liked the book a lot, as I have an interest in American life during the "roaring twenties" and I liked the relationship triangle that existed between the characters (I'm a sucker for that). It wasn't Fight Club or even The Mezzanine for that matter, but I enjoyed it, and it made me want to continue reading the classics that I am behind on.

Which brings me to the book that I am currently reading, The Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell. In this book, Russell argues that many of the freedoms that we enjoy today come not from the pious leaders that are celebrated in Social Studies class, but instead from the renegades and deviants that have existed throughout our countries history. No less a hero of mine than Nick Gillespie (of Reason Magazine fame) recommended this as his favorite book of 2010. I am only about a third of the way through the book, so I won't give my final thoughts on it just yet. But I will say that it has me intrigued as much as The Rational Optimist, and I am having trouble putting it down (never a bad thing...except when you have to go to work, of course).

One thing is for new toy has me reading more. And that seems like a positive development. Of course, all the reading has kept me from blogging, so I need to get back on that. I will make sure to check in more often (sadly, there are no more Capitals games to distract me, so it should be a little easier).

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