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  •  What I'm reading and (17+ / 0-)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Just finished
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. A re-re-read. Pratchett at the top of his game, in this first Discworld book that showed he is a great writer. In the religious dictatorship of Omnia, everyone believes in the great god Om (if you don't, the quisition will get you). But the simple man Brutha doesn't just believe. He BELIEVES. Then the God manifests to him as a tortoise (a small god, because almost no one really believes).  

    Pratchett beautifully skewers fanatical religion, while not totally skewering the more humane elements of it. full review

    Now reading

    On politics: A history of political thought from Herodotus to the present by Alan Ryan. What the subtitle says - a history of political thought.  But he should add the adjective "Western" or something as he doesn't discuss other traditions or writings.

    The Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois. My favorite of the annual collections of SF.

    Leibniz: An intellectual biography by Maria Rosa Antognazza.  Leibniz was co-inventor of calculus (with Isaac Newton) but he also made contributions to law, philosophy, physics, economics, chemistry, geology, medicine, linguistics, history and more. This book is good, but fairly dense.

    The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell.  The philosopher writes about why he thinks a lot of people are unhappy when it is not justified by their external circumstances. Written in 1930, this is partly interesting as a time capsule and partly as advice (quite a bit of which remains valid, 80 years later).

    Reinventing Bach by Paul Elie. How the performance of Bach has changed over the centuries.

    I play bridge and I decided to start listing bridge books I am reading

    Bidding, probability and information by Robert MacKinnon. Appeals to both the bridge player and the statistician in me. Not very well written, unfortunately, and aimed at better bridge players than me, but still interesting.

    Card Play Technique by Victor Mollo and Nico Gardner. One of the classics of bridge literature. Subtitled "The art of being lucky". Very well written, intended for that huge class of bridge players called "intermediate".

    Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter. Prehistory with an SF feel. First of the Northlands trilogy. This takes place when "civilization" is just getting started in the West; Jericho is a new town. This isn't anything profound, but it's fun. I needed something light to leaven things up.

    Stiff by Mary Roach. A re-read for me, with the History group on Goodreads. This is about what happens to us after we die. It ain't pretty.

    Turing and Burroughs by Rudy Rucker.  This is a deeply weird book. Not in a bad way at all, but .... odd. It starts off with the (possibly true) attempt of someone in the British government to kill Alan Turing with cyanide laced tea. But Turing's lover drinks first and dies. Then Turing uses biological tools he has been working on to switch faces with his friend. Then the tools get loose, Turing escapes to Morocco where he meets (and melds with) William Burroughs.... This is strange stuff but fascinating. Rucker captures Turing quite well in my view (I have read a lot about Turing).

    Just started
    American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meachem. A well-researched and well-written account of Jackson, concentrating on his White House years. So far, it's a bit too admiring for me; but we'll see. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

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