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Now Reading

October 28, 2022 am31 6:03 am

I stopped reading. I wrote about it yesterday.

I still was reading on line. And I can read – you know – sound out the words, figure out what the author was writing. But I want to get back into “get lost in the pages” kind of reading. And I tried to jump straight in, and well, I am trying something else.


The New Yorker, print, comes each week. I skim the cartoons. If I laugh at any of the lame jokes, I have the sense not to share that. And I read the opinion piece at the start of the Talk of the Town. I find it pretty New York liberal (not a great compliment) without being The New York Times New York Corporate Liberal (which I despise). And I am pretty good at reading more of the short pieces. I do not read something more substantial each week, but getting there. And their reviews (art, books, at the back) are not for me. Nor is their fiction. But the writing I do read, I like the voices in The New Yorker, and the quality of the writing is very very high.

The Economist, print, comes each week. Look, it’s kind of cheating to go for a pile of short articles, but that’s what I am doing here. I rarely read their full briefings or intelligence reports. The Economist represents a very definite point of view – I like to call it “City of London” – the financial center of what is no longer the most powerful economic power in the world. Because it is well-written, and has a really bad sense of humor, and because it doesn’t hide its pov, it is kind of an enjoyable read. And I definitely learn stuff – The Economist does not treat regions of the world as unworthy of coverage.

Scientific American. Print. I so want to get through every one of these. And I don’t. But I absolutely AM READING parts of each issue now, and this was just not the case half a year ago. It’s good science, pretty current. It’s written simple enough for me, but even then I find parts challenging. And what I read, I learn from. It’s only once a month, and I guess it represents a place I want to get to, while I know full well I am not there yet.


My first strategy – just open something and read – didn’t turn out too well. So I pulled a group of three books, and rotated reading from each. Three became four, became five. While I was in Maine, I read a little from each each day. Today I am more likely to pull from two on any given day, sometimes one, rarely three.

And what is in progress?

The Counter-Revolution of 1776, Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America. Gerald Horne. Completely different take on 1776, the motivations of the actors, and the centrality of slavery to the revolt of the colonists. I’m about 45% of the way in. It’s a slow slog. Horne’s writing is academic, with lots of footnotes. And the organization is partially thematic, overlain with chronology – but it is NOT chronological, which I find super-challenging.

Math Girls. Hiroshi Yuki. My only fiction, and it is loaded with math! Real math. Strange, I think it is YA, young adult, but the romantic story lines eat up maybe 10-15% percent. The school story line is maybe 5-10%. And 75-85% is math, which you would think makes this comfortable for me. That’s not entirely correct. Some of the math is different from math I’ve worked on, and some is presented in idiosyncratic ways. I was going faster, but slowed down. I’m about 40% done.

Child Prisoner in American Concentration Camps – A Memoir, Mako Nakagawa. I’ve already finished a book from a child’s viewpoint, and this is my second. I have more to come. I’ve just started this, not 5% of the way, but it will go very fast.

The Battle Nearer to Home: The Persistence of School Segregation in New York City. Christopher Bonastia. Mostly focused on the 50s and 60s, right through Ocean Hill – Brownsville (the 1968 strike against community control), and then jumps forward to more recent struggles. I’m about 75% done, and I’ve gotten past the strike (I know, none of us really have). The writing is well-footnoted, but the style is accessible. I should write more about this book. Maybe I will. I might recommend it. Bonastia is at Lehman College, but I never met him, never encountered him until recently on a social media platform.

The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health. David Montgomery and Anne Biklé. I read Montgomery’s Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations years ago. I think I bought copies as gifts for friends and relatives. I was a fan. One day in IFC I saw a documentary, DamNation, about removing dams from rivers in the Pacific Northwest, and what a positive effect dam removal had on the ecosystem, in some cases along First Peoples to return to or restore cultural practices. And Montgomery was a talking head in that film. I wiggled my toes with delight when I realized who it was (silently, of course, so as not to disturb the seven other guests in that theater). I’ve just started. But I already know. Hmm. Montgomery:Scientist::Social Historian:Historian. And that’s cool

And straight up math?

I’d like to get some collaborative reading going – but haven’t found my text and partners yet. For now I am just going through a couple of things I read with kids, but now super slowly and carefully.

Numbers and Curves by Franz Lemmermeyer. It’s really an on-line number theory text. But we used the first chapter to construct the naturals from Peano’s Postulates. Progress is very slow, but quite satisfying. This does not feel easy. But it’s a different sort of reading.

An Introduction to Elementary Set Theory. Guram Bezhanishvili and Eachan Landreth. MAA put this out as a pdf – it’s a historical survey, with little bits of Cantor and Dedekind interspersed with some basics. I always enjoyed using this, and I’m just close reading to make certain there are not details I’d manage to overlook. I’m also assembling notes on what I added to this – certainly my students loved the mysterious notation. Cool, but that makes this reading even more divergent. That’s ok. I like this too.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2022 pm31 5:37 pm 5:37 pm

    Math Girls sounds right up my alley: but no Kindle edition. And it’s six books in a series. Booo to them.


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