Archive for Books


My random-book-picker recently picked a collection of Coleridge verse and prose from my unread-books shelves. It’s a hardcover roughly the size of a mass-market paperback. It’s 350 pages of Coleridge’s writing, plus a hundred pages of notes at the end. But what makes it unusual is that the notes are in Russian. (The verse and […]

Unread-books update: 250 TPBs/HCs to go

Milestone: I’m now down to 250 unread trade paperbacks and hardcovers. Which means I’ve reduced that number by 100 since my Facebook progress post almost exactly a year ago, when it was at 350. And during that time, I added about 5 books to the list (a couple that I had neglected to add before, […]

Sturgeon books I didn’t know about

I thought that I had read all of Sturgeon’s fiction except for one novel. But it turns out that he wrote five other books that I hadn’t heard of. Three of them are novelizations of movies: The King and Four Queens (1956) Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) The Rare Breed (1966) But […]

Parke Godwin’s _A Truce with Time_

I read Parke Godwin’s novel A Truce with Time: A Love Story with Occasional Ghosts in 1990, shortly before my college graduation. (The book had been published in 1988; it was written in 1986, and set in 1979.) What I remember of my reaction to it is that it felt to me more mature than […]

On the uses of encyclopedias

I’ve finally finished reading Andrew Brown’s A Brief History of Encyclopaedias. I continued to find it both interesting and annoying all the way through. (It’s less than 120 pages long, but it took me a few days to read it because I kept falling asleep. That’s not the book’s fault; I was inexplicably sleepy all […]

How not to describe the Cantor set

The latest book from my unread-books shelf is Fractals, Chaos, Power Laws, by Manfred Schroeder, which I am currently perusing over lunch. It belonged to my father, so it’s been sitting on my shelf waiting for me to read it for 15+ years. I already knew that it had pretty fractal pictures in it, and […]

A City in Winter, by Mark Helprin

I loved Mark Helprin’s novel Winter’s Tale when I read it circa 1990, so I was disappointed to later learn that he’s a conservative commentator. His 1996 short book A City in Winter has been sitting on my bookcase for a couple of decades now; part of my delay in reading it has been hesitancy […]

Russ reviews

My pick-a-random-unread-book system recently picked Joanna Russ’s reviews-and-essays collection The Country You Have Never Seen. I’m not normally a big reader of reviews—I don’t hate them, they’re just not something I tend to be super into. But in this case, I laughed out loud half a dozen times in the first couple dozen pages. Partly […]

Braudel’s _Structures of Everyday Life_

I’m continuing to read/skim Fernand Braudel’s 1980(ish) The Structures of Everyday Life: The Limits of the Possible (volume 1 of his three-volume work Civilization and Capitalism, 15th–18th Century). I continue to find it a mix of fascinating and annoying—there’s a wealth of information here about what Braudel calls “material life” around the world during that […]