Monday, February 22, 2010

books

Geez my reading habits have fallen off a cliff in the last six months. That tends to happen when involved in research, the all-consuming activity that crowds out everything else that might fill up the little gaps of time throughout the day. (In NY, having a job I hated had the opposite, escapist effect. I guess there are trade-offs in everything.)

1984, by George Orwell
- Got bored with this in 8th grade and didn't finish (didn't finish much fiction at all back then), but it's one of those books that's embarrassing not to have read. I was surprised how fantastical it was. Orwell was obviously at least as inclined to invent worlds as he was to comment on politics. It went too over the top for me to be able to take it seriously but obviously it was more impactful at the time it was written (and probably still more important to maintain in the collective consciousness than I'd like to believe.)

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens - This was just great the whole way through, and hilarious. This guy knows an unbelievable amount about the history and text of the major religions so it was also unexpectedly interesting and fresh. His recount of the founding of Mormonism and many other minor incidents of blatant religious fraud, is particularly entertaining.

Discovery: A Memoir, by Vernon Smith - I never expected to like a memoir, and didn't expect this book to be as memoir-ish as it actually was, but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. Vernon Smith may be my favorite economist. His life story is intertwined with his intellectual journey and to read that in a narrative form is very fascinating. Of course it helps that he comes from my neck of the woods and also loves the outdoors and went to the same University as me and has that lovable midwestern anti-snootiness and an entire worldview I agree with...