Currently Reading

February tends to be the month when the highest winter bills roll in.  With that in mind, it is time to get lost, hide, and otherwise disappear into a stack of books.  While that won’t make what you owe go away, staying true to a reading list has the benefit of maintaining sanity.  Sure, comfort could be found in other routines, such as washing dishes or walking the dog, but they don’t necessarily transport you elsewhere, or edify.  Yes, it is arguable that walking the dog transports and doing the quotidian dishes allows you to think through a complicated project.  So too, the roofer does his geometry, the bank teller rehearses her rap for when she serves as club DJ, and the lawyer loses herself in sunset photography.  We all have something.

I want to share my 2016 reading list with you, and what I expect to learn from it.  I’ve already socked away a few.  Here’s a quick breakdown:

Signatures of Life by Edward Ashpole.  Don’t laugh at the name.  Alright, you can.  My goal with pursuing books like this is to eliminate the crap surrounding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  Instead, Ashpole puts himself in it up to his ankles while standing on his head.  A serious reader would put it down after the first chapter.  Now you know I’m not as serious a reader as I’d like to be.  Ashpole could have made his case in a few sentences and left it at that.  But no, he drones on about certainties no exo-planet scientist would commit to.  At any rate, do not read this book.  It really sucked.

Astoria by Peter Stark.  If you liked Stephen Ambrose’s epic about Lewis and Clark entitled Undaunted Courage, this book is in that vein.  Most Americans living today do not realize the struggle it was to pioneer the West, but Stark makes it vivid for us by choosing the marginalized story of John Jacob Astor’s plan to colonize the Columbia River watershed for the fur trade.  An amazing book.

God: The Failed Hypothesis, by Victor Stenger.  Now this is not an apologetic for atheists, but a scientific investigation into the attributes of the Judeo-Christian God, and why scientific tests of that God do not hold water.  Having been a fundamentalist Christian, I now seek to bolster my rationales against belief, simply because I see a gross lack of evidence.  Stenger gives a good 15 rounds in this boxing match, and wins by TKO.  After all, you can’t knock out an opponent that isn’t there.

An Erotic History of Advertising, by Tom Reichert.  I’m a quarter into this book, and it is about what I expected in terms of describing the reasons manufacturers pursue marketing their products with sexual images and verbiage.  Lots of naughty bits, but it’s a little like ‘reading’ Playboy.  But if you want to sell less-than-exciting widgets to people, try sex.

Others on the list:

Light, The Visible Spectrum and Beyond – a bit of a coffee table picture book on electromagnetic radiation.

The Color Revolution – about the 20th century’s discovery of using color as a tool.

Copies in Seconds – the story of Xerography and its inventor Chester Carleson.

Endgame – about chess champion Bobby Fischer

The Asteroid Threat – about near Earth objects and the cosmic shooting gallery that is our solar system

The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence – What I hope is a much better book than Signatures of Life!

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars – What I hope is even better than The Eerie Silence!

The Rational Animal: How Evolution Made Us Smarter Than We Think

Who is Rational? Studies of Individual Differences in Reasoning

The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of Self

Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective

A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

Functional Inefficiency: The Unexpected Benefits of Wasting Time and Money

Then, to spice things up:

Lolita

Women

Women in Love

Biographies of Roger Daltry, Nicola Tesla, Eugene Shoemaker, and Amy Winehouse

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