The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Readings for May 2013

It turns out that my Harper's subscription had been mis-routed to some other Nathan Smith in the area. I am working with them to get it straightened out and for back issues to arrive. Until then, I read anything but.

The Other Wind by Ursula K. LeGuin

What I love about prolific authors is that you can always go to them in a pinch. I was wanting to read a bit of fantasy. I thought, "I know, I have not read all of the Earthsea cycle!" So I bought The Other Wind.

LeGuin truly has mastered the short novel. She tells a deep story. Her books do not get overlong, yet neither do they feel short on detail. I am not sure if anyone else writing science fiction or fantasy has her skill in this arena. Definitely a recommended read.

The Glory of Their Times by Lawrence Ritter

The Glory of Their Times is Lawrence Ritter's excellent compilation of interviews with "old time" baseball players. He went all around the country for years to gather stories from elderly ex-players. The result is fantastic reading for baseball fans. It is really great to hear the perspectives on the early decades of the game.

There was a general consensus that the adoption of the "live ball" and emphasis on power hitting was a negative development. Many players lamented that Major League Baseball was now (in the 1960s) a less cerebral game. Some insisted the old-timers were the best, but others conceded that the modern athletes were better. Mays and Koufax were two names which kept coming up. Best of all for me were the multiple perspectives on the same events. In some cases the details were identical - you could really tell there was an oral history among players. But in some cases there were some discrepancies.

This book really is something of a classic. While reading I could see how this work is foundational for other classics, including Ken Burns' documentary. It is a must-read for baseball fans.

Periodicals

  • Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet #22 - For the most part I loved this issue. One continuing qualm I have about speculative fiction is my suspicion that authors are being unclear for its own sake.
  • Scientific American January 2013 - Cameron Smith's examination of "How Humans Will Evolve on Multigenerational Space Exploration Missions" was a really fascinating look at an important topic which is not often thought about in the context of space exploration.
  • Scientific American February 2013 - The featured article suggests that human memories are "striped" across many neurons, but not as many as we might think. Sounds like a computer storage array to me.

Just keep reading.

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