Some Book Notes From a Long Train Ride

I’ve just completed a 24 hour or so train trip to the East Coast. In the absence of computers and the net, books were read.

I’ve really enjoyed reading through the first parts of the Princeton Companion for Mathematics. I’ve been away from academics and “real” mathematics for almost 20 years. This book is aimed at a mid-collegiate level math background and so far is pitch perfect for me, although I’m just getting into topics in section 3 with which I’m not very familiar. Anyhow I recommend it highly.

St. Siluan the Athonite is a great spiritual read, but best taken in smallish bites … at least for me.

The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy was very good and a very short study on why a little self-examination and reflection is a good idea. Actually (as my parents don’t regularly read this blog), I’ll admit that I’m going to give it to my father for Christmas once-read.

I’m about half-way through Ian Banks The Algebraist which paints an interesting galactic society without breaking (much) known laws of physics (I think wormholes, if possible are harder to “work” with than suggested). Oddly enough for the beginning parts of the book the hero brought to my mind my impression of frequent commenter “the Jewish Atheist.” I’m getting hints half-way through that this is a book about oppression and liberty.

I’ve read a few chapters of Fagles and Fox recent translation of The Aeneid and had brought a parallel book The Black Ships but didn’t get a positive impression of the second from the first 10 or so pages and will defer returning to that for a while.

Finally, I still have “grand” plans on reading a Banks “Culture” novel (The Player of Games) and a translation of Henryk Sienkiewicz With Fire and Sword before getting back to the midwest, but that will depend on time remaining and how much the Companion grabs me in the meantime.

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  1. Oddly enough for the beginning parts of the book the hero brought to my mind my impression of frequent commenter “the Jewish Atheist.”

    LOL, I guess I have to read it now.