Bedside book pile

by Stubborn Mule on 17 July 2011 · 5 comments

Bedside booksJust as topics for blog posts are piling up, so are the books on my bedside table. I have always read more than one book at a time, but things are getting out of hand at the moment, and that doesn’t even take into account the books I have on the Kindle.

In an effort to prioritise my reading and clear a few from this precarious pile, I thought I would take a look at some of the books here on the blog.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Carol Tavris, which was the subject of my last post, is a fascinating examination of cognitive dissonance. I was only about a quarter of the way through the book when I was inspired to write that post and now that I have nearly finished, it has not disappointed. Topics as diverse as suppressed memory syndrome, what makes relationships succeed or fail, international conflict, racism, bullying and false convictions are all examined through the lens of cognitive dissonance. It only ended up at the bottom of the pile when I stacked the books for the photo, so it should come straight out and be the first one I finish.

I started reading Javascript: the Definitive Guide by David Flanagan quite a while ago when I was playing around with the charting tool Protovis. At the time I had some ideas for doing more than a few blog posts, but I’m a bit too busy to take them any further at the moment. Much as I would like to improve my facility with Javascript, I think this book should be retired back to the bookshelf for now.

A friend was working in Japan back in 1995 and was unlucky enough to be caught in the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway. I had spoken to him about it a few times when I came across the book Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche by Haruki Murakami. Best known for his fiction, Murakami turned to non-fiction for the first time with this series of interviews with survivors of the attack. It makes for grim reading and so, as each chapter focuses on the story of a single interviewee, I have taken to reading a chapter or two at a time, turning to lighter subjects in between. This one can stay on the table.

Playfair’s Commercial and Political Atlas and Statistical Breviary by William Playfair is the oldest book here. Written in 1801, I regularly dip into this one for the pictures not the words. Regular visitors to the Stubborn Mule will know I am a chart enthusiast and William Playfair is one of the greatest pioneers in the field of visual representation of quantitative information. He is credited with inventing some of the most fundamental tools in the charters toolbox: line charts, bar charts and even pie charts. For a couple of years now I have meant to write a post about Playfair and this book can also stay on the table, at least until that post gets written.

At this point it is starting to seem as though I only read non-fiction. That is not quite true and there are two novels here: American Pastoral by Philip Roth, which I have started and Anathem by Neal Stephenson which I have not. Given how long it took me to get through Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I should really finish American Pastoral before I embark upon Anathem.

Given how long this post is already, there are clearly too many books to list here (and likewise too many to finish any time soon), but for the benefit of those readers who enjoy my posts about money and debt, I should point out that Monetary Economics by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie is there too. There is plenty of future blog material in that book, I have no doubt.

 

 

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dan July 17, 2011 at 10:03 pm

i read the murakami book on the sarin gas attacks. i think it would be worth revisiting post fukushima.

2 Pfh007 July 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm

The kindle , iphone , ipad sync approach has done wonders for my bed side table but not for the reading back log.

Impulse purchasing is just too easy – especially when interesting books are the subject of mule posts!

Fortunately moving west as given me a solid 45-50 minute public transport commute which has helped with the virtual pile.

3 Ramanan July 20, 2011 at 2:58 am

Sean,

The last book is also written by Marc Lavoie :)

The reason for this comment is that according to Marc, the book was originally supposed to have been written long back – as early as early 90s, and had many drafts but simply didn’t move forward. Then they collaborated over many papers and had more to write and still no progress on some disagreements on definition of profits. Marc then had to tell Wynne that “you have less time to live” and after than he can write whatever he wants !

Here’s the story http://www.levyinstitute.org/conferences/godley2011/Lavoie.pdf

Here’s Marc’s autograph on my copy of the book http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16533182/Godley/IMG_0884.JPG

Too bad I couldn’t get Wynne Godley’s autograph.

4 Stubborn Mule July 20, 2011 at 6:51 am

Thanks Ramanan…I’ve updated the post.

pfh007, you are right about the Kindle. I didn’t even start on the books I’ve got in there that I am part way through!

5 Paddy July 23, 2011 at 8:28 am

I read the Roth book a couple of weeks ago. Dark, but high quality.

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