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one more meme: books [May. 20th, 2005|03:40 pm]
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1. Total number of books I own:

I have no idea what the actual number is. I can probably most easily express it by length:

9m of technical books;
3m of general-audience science books;
6m of paperbacks, mostly sci-fi/fantasy;
1m of self-help / philosophy / pop psychology books;
1m of comic / humor books;
1m of reference;
1m of large format atlas / art books

2. The last book(s) I bought:

Two books on Web Services in Java (yawn) and a collection of Randal Schwartz's perl columns (most of which I'd read, but he was going to be in town so I'd have him sign them -- too bad the meeting didn't happen.)

3. The last book I read:

To completion? Hm. Don't remember, actually.

In progress? Understanding Physics by Isaac Asimov. Painfully out of date, but a good refresher in classical physics.

4. Five books that I re-read often, or that mean a lot to me:

David Kiersey - Please Understand Me II: It seems silly to put it this way, but it was my final revelation that it was ok to be weird, and in fact I'm weird in an an entirely reasonably and statistically supported way.

Elizabeth Moon - The Deed of Paksennarion: Not particularly deep (and, in fact, its deeper aspects actively annoy me, with the assumption that humans alone cannot face the world without supernatural assistance) but very well-written, convincing, and easy multiple readings.

Douglas Hofstaedter - Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid: I didn't read this until a few years after I finished my CS and Math degrees, so much of the technical side was stuff I'd dealt with at least academically. The way he tied it together with art, aesthetics, and philosophy, as well as simply providing an enlightening description of the mathematics, impressed me quite a bit. Also, reading this book gave me the weirdest dreams I can remember.

J.R.R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Ok, so that makes me a lemming. But there were a few years where I would always take a day or two out of Winter Break and re-read the entire trilogy from front to back. I acknowledge David Brin's points on why it's not entirely happy, but it was still my introduction to high heroic fantasy, and it's still something I can enjoy sitting down and reading a few chapters here and there.

I can't think of a single book for the last position, and I'm sure I'll think of many others later. I'd probably put in anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, due to the sheer beauty of his prose. My only complaint with him is that, while his writing is just getting more and more beautiful, his subject matter is getting less and less magical -- and damnit, I want magic. :)

[User Picture]From: madpiratebippy
2005-05-21 12:10 am (UTC)
I was never able to get through Godel, Escher, Bach. Then again the last time I tried to read it I was in my mid teens. I suppose now that I'm a grand old dame who's taken some math classes, I might do better at getting through it.
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[User Picture]From: tkil
2005-05-21 03:10 am (UTC)


The most frustrating thing for me when I was reading GEB was that I'm used to reading hundreds of pages a day in a given book. With GEB, I had to slow down a lot; I would read about 5-10 pages, then have to do something else while it sunk in. Made the book take a long time to finish, but it was definitely worth it to me.

And it's less about math in the applied sense of the word than in the higher level "proofs" and philosophy at the foundations of mathematics. Which makes it sound scary, but it's actually pretty easy to get a handle on the key to Gödel's incompleteness theorems. The other two (Bach and Escher) are brought in to illustrate the prevalance of recursion more fully, and how humans often see it as beautiful.

(As an aside, much of the fractals seen in reality are actually recursive one way or another, so maybe there is even a biologic component...)
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[User Picture]From: deliriumdreams
2005-05-21 12:50 am (UTC)
Damn. The only books I've read on your top five(ish) list is Tolkien. Which I absorbed madly in elementary school, again in middle school, read them a third time in high school, and one last time as a freshman in college. I've never read them as an adult and really feel I should. YAY! I now have a bunch more books to search out and read.
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[User Picture]From: tkil
2005-05-21 03:21 am (UTC)

book recommendations

Well, only one other was a fantasy book (Elizabeth Moon's). Guy Gavriel Kay really writes the most beautiful prose that I remember ever reading. I have a bunch of his stuff (and E.M.'s TDoP and its prequel, which I didn't care for nearly as much) that I can loan you at some point.
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[User Picture]From: deliriumdreams
2005-05-21 03:32 am (UTC)

Re: book recommendations

It doesnt have to be fantasy to be good reading. Maybe I'll borrow them when i get done with the other two books you loaned me. LOL.
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[User Picture]From: rockit_grl
2005-05-22 02:55 am (UTC)
Please Understand Me II is a book I reference a lot. I want everyone to at the work place to take this test. and to read, not only to understand their own personality but thier coworkers personality, or more importantly their friends or sig-others personalties.

also interesting enough I read a lot of sci-fi. Not that I'm a huge sci-fi nut but certain things about certian sci-fi catch my eye. for instance Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite authors since childhood, which led to reading other sci-fi.
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[User Picture]From: tkil
2005-05-22 07:17 am (UTC)

freaks like us

Please Understand Me II is a book I reference a lot.

I don't know if I reference it all that much, although I've lost at least one copy by loaning it out... and I did replace it for my private collection, so that says something.

My appreciation for this book was almost entirely due to my first reading through, with the sense of relief that it's ok to feel weird, different, like I don't fit in, that I can't communicate my goals and fears to others, and that others see the world in a fundamentally different way. To abuse a cliche, it was like a weight being lifted off my shoulders.

(It also helped that going through the questions in my head made me realize that all my girlfriends for a 10-year span were all INFPs, a 1% category just like my own. A bit of a horoscope-comes-true shiver, that...)

I want everyone to at the work place to ... not only to understand their own personality but thier coworkers personality

The problem is, as the book itself points out, there is a significant percentage of the population (likely a majority) whose brains just do not work on that level of introspection (or at least not very easily / comfortably / efficiently). So they'd never read it, likely not understand it, and probably not feel it was important to apply it to their lives.

Ray Bradbury is good. Limiting the list to just 5 books was very challenging; I used more of a "what comes to mind, and how did it impact my life and/or would I recommend it to others?" process.
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[User Picture]From: rockit_grl
2005-05-22 07:54 pm (UTC)

Re: freaks like us

thanks for the write back. Interesting enough when I said I reference it a lot, I guess I should have said reference it to other people. As you state some personality types, okay a lot not just some, don't care what personality they have because they always fit and and society has always welcomed them.

I had to beg nick to take the test and turns out he is an ESTJ, exact opposite of my INFP. Which is why I'm so entranced by this book. Nick also thanked me a few months ago because the that knowledge helped him get a job. They asked him some questions about myers briggs temperment sorter and he explained that I forced him to talk the test. He explained the dynamic between him and I and what things we both excell at.

I was proud of him for that.

I'm very thankful to my mom to introducing me to ray bradbury when I was younger and reading me all kinds of good literature. I think a lot of parents don't read to their children anymore. They let the tv do all the talking. Kids are really missing out these days.

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