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Books I’m reading

November 3, 2008

I’m not sure if you any of you are like this — but I have a tendency to try and read many books at once. What happens, of course, is it takes forever to finish one of them. I think I need to focus on one and try to actually finish it!

At any rate, I don’t have time for a good geology post right now, so here’s a list of some books I’m currently trying to read:

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The Fourth Turning by Strauss and Howe — I started this one recently and like it so much so far that I might finish it relatively soon. The Fourth Turning discusses cycles in history and how they are tied to social generations. It focuses on 20th century American history and speculates about the future, but there is also quite a bit on ancient civilizations and mythology in the beginning of the book. The other cool thing is that this book was written in 1997 — it’s always interesting to read about prediction for time periods that have already happened or are occurring. I’ll write more about it when I finish it.

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Out of Control by Kevin Kelly — This 1994 book is awesome, but extremely dense. Kevin Kelly packs so many ideas into a single paragraph that if I re-read it the next day I learn something new. The subtitle for this book is ‘The New Biology of Machines’ and discusses (so far … I’m only partway through) the concept of evolving and adaptive systems, especially with respect to collective entities (e.g., the good ol’ ant colony example). Although I’m only in the first third of this book, Kelly discusses these concepts within the context of human-made machines, systems, or other technology. It’s very interesting so far.

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Year Million edited by Damien Broderick — This book is a collection of essays from various scholars, scientists, authors, and journalists looking forward one million years and speculating about what will become of us. I’ve read about half of the essays so far and they’ve covered topics such as biological (and specifically human) evolution, environmental/climate change, ecosystem change and variability, geological change, and social/technological trends. As with many compilation books, each essay stands on its own — some I like way better than others. This format also goes well with my can’t-finish-a-book-in-a-reasonable-amount-of-time problem.

This last book makes me want to ponder a million years out in a blog post — in fact, I just made it an Accretionary Wedge theme.


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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2008 4:15 pm

    Yeah, I have the same problem. Right now (outside of my thesis/science oriented reading) I am (re)reading:
    The once and future king (second time)
    Finishing off the Sherlock Holmes canon (only half of Valley of Fear and parts of “His Last Bow” to go)
    The Water Room (second in a series of locked room mysteries that I can’t put down).

    Year Million sounds like the same idea as Supercontinent (which looks forward to the next supercontinent on Earth). I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet (also it isn’t in paperback yet, so a bit pricey [for a grad student anyway]), but it looks interesting.

  2. November 3, 2008 7:45 pm

    Thanks for the good book ideas. I also read about 3-5 books at once, and don’t finish all of them – I hate to admit. I can think of a few million-year things.

  3. November 4, 2008 7:44 pm

    I’m on a massive Cormac MacCarthy tear right now….Suttree, Blood Meridian…he knows some geology, give him a chance.

    I’ll definately check out your selections too.

    fuckin’ a

  4. November 5, 2008 8:22 am

    Joe, I got a buddy who loves MacCarthy books … I still haven’t read one. In addition to reading too many books at once, I tend not to read fiction for some reason … maybe I’ll change that with a MacCarthy book.

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