Saturday, August 23, 2008

National Year of Reading

I was sent a link for The National Year of Reading so I thought I would point this out to anyone who wasn't aware of it. How many books have you completed this year, and how many have you started but not finished? Well the only fiction book I can recall reading is The Good Earth which was a birthday present last year. Apart from that - zilch. I bought a few fiction books and put them on my shelf, but never have I read them. One such book which I need to read is Big Bad Wolf by James Patterson!

Hmm, that's fiction over so lets move onto the Maths books. For the first time in my whole little life, have I started to read another book after starting a different one. The Maths book which I have completed are Fermat's Last Theorem (by Simon Singh) and and... ah yes, Nature's Numbers and Letter's to a Young Mathematician (by Ian Stewart). Well these are general audience maths books, but I'm stuck thinking of any more that I have finished reading! Surely there must me more? Yep, Timothy Gowers book - Mathematics, A Short Introduction. I think that is finally all of them.

Ah well, I won't damage my diminishing brain cells by mulling over this. Now over to general audience Maths book that I have started reading but not finished. Well there's The Code Book by Simon Singh, but I have a very good excuse for this! Have you seen the font size in his book? It's tiny! (There's no such thing as a lame excuse...and this is the reason I can't get started on Music of Primes). I've started the Millennium Problems by Keith Devlin, but the "physicy problems" erm... well were at the end of the book hence that's not been finished.

I started reading An \sout{Un}*apologetic Mathematician by Hardy, but I unfortunately failed to see his greatness in that book. I actually enjoyed the preface more (!) and I don't know when I stopped reading his book. I do intend to review it when I finish it, and don't get me wrong, he was an amazing mathematician but.... It's like someone telling you that a movie is brilliant and describing it in such a way that you expect to find it equally amazing. How disappointed are you when you find the movie not so great? I think there was a hype around Hardy like that around Fermat. Fermat didn't disappoint though. (Or perhaps I didn't like the way Hardy wrote, for I thought he was cool-ish whilst reading the preface?) The books actually available online now, so feel free to have a read of it.

*I had actually written "unapologetic" first, but when I googled it I got some egg on my face!

Recently I have started and stopped reading An Imaginary Tale of \sqrt{-1} by Paul Nahin. No reason for stopping, for his book also had a brilliant preface but I never got my hand into it. Currently (and fingers crossed that this book is read fully!) I'm reading the book about Erdos. Actually, that book will be completed so I'll keep my comments to myself about it. (One comment will have its own post though!) The Man Who Only Loved Number is an unfortunate tale in some sense, but I will leave that thought there. (I don't want to get myself started on the review prematurely!)

Whoops the paragraph above stalled towards the end as I couldn't make my mind up! Anyway other books which I've worked through (i.e. general text books) are an Ian Stewart and David Tall book, but I'm straining to remember its name. How to Solve it by Polya was pretty good, but I don't recall "finishing it". I've started a book by John Mason and that's all I think. (I'm definitely not going to mention the text books that I have worked through, because for each module I need about five different books! Well a certain chapter from one book, and another chapter from another and so on...).

There you have my badly disciplined reading habits. I read blogs if that counts? Well I read them less than when I first started, because something has to always give way, but I still do read! Don't I? I was given a reading list of non-mathematical books by a supply teacher in my school (five years ago!) which I found the other day. I might post it (in the name of the Year of Reading of course).

However, just because I haven't been reading the books, that doesn't mean I have to stop buying! I haven't even collected the books that I bought from the Springer Sale yet, and I possibly won't ever really need them. Ah well, books make me feel weak at the knees so I buy them due to medical reasons. :p Do you think my mum will believe that though?

On the webpage I linked above, one can design their own cool logo. I designed my logo (on the right) which isn't very cool, but I made it mathematical though! (That should score me some points with the judges.) Any guesses on what on earth I have written? Please don't disappoint me, just read what it says! Have fun designing your own logo and feel free to post them. I can't turn my computer off tonight because I want to make a bookmark with my design and I can't save it. It's late (early) at the moment and the printer makes a racket, so I can't print it just yet.

I hope to complete the books that I have started and I wish that someone out there has a worse track record than myself! (In the nicest possible way of course...) If you don't give a statement my detective skills will inform me that you are too ashamed to admit anything *cue evil laugh*. Or perhaps I should stop being a detective and concentrate on reading my own books! Doh. Ah well it was worth a try.

So in the spirit of this post: Read.

PS: It's late (early) so I've lazily not linked anything today. I'll save that for a rainy day...


Steph said...

You should definitely read more. Fantastic non-mathematical books (off the top of my head) that I have read (and indeed re-read) this year include:

"Like the flowing River"- Paulo Coelho.
"The Shadow of the Wind"- Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
"The Time Traveller's wife"- Audrey Niffenegger.
"Freedom Next Time"- John Pilger.
"Lolita"- Vladimir Nabokov
"The Autobiography of Quincy Jones"- Quincy Jones.
"Mutants"- Armand Marie Leroi

The wonderful books by Matt Ridley (which I have previously mentioned): "Nature via Nurture", "Genome", "Origins of Virtue".

And well, any of Agatha Christie's "Poirot" books, my favourite being "After the Funeral".

Lovely stuff.

Beans said...

Hi Steph,

I couldn't agree more! It's weird because from all of my friends, I am the only one who has stopped reading since university started. Bella reads books the night before exams! (I think I should aspire to do that as well...) How do you manage to find time to read that many books though?!

Paulo Coelho is a fantastic author. I recall reading The Alchemist at school and it was a great read. I think this is the best time to confess that even after my AS Biology teachers encouragement, I have yet to read an Agatha Christie novel!

I tend to read a lot of Ian Rankin (my current favourite!) John Grisham, James Patterson etc. And the Jason Bourne novels are fantastic too (in my opinion).

Thanks for the suggestions though, I'll add them to my all time non-mathematical book list (which I might post later today).

Steph said...

I really like John Grisham too.

I normally get through 1 or 2 books a week. I always read before I sleep or if I am eating alone. Quite a few of my friends stopped reading after high school as soon as it was no longer compulsory, which I found quite strange. I don't think my brother has read a book in years. I did English Literature at A-level and was close to doing it at university and so I am glad I haven't lost the love of reading.

Around exam time I'd always read books I've read hundreds of times- I think the familiarity of them each night had a calming effect on me. Main example- Harry Potter.

Christie books are very easy to read, and really fun too.

Beans said...

My favourite John Grisham novel has to be "The Brethren". That was a great book, and the first of his which I read.

Wow--you must be a fast reader! I can't read "quietly" or in my head any longer, and have to read semi-loudly (if that makes sense) so it takes longer now. Sometimes I end up repeating sentences for quite a long time. In my defence, I have to build the story/picture in my head you see. For example I have my own Hogwarts in my head, hence why I detest the movies so much!

I used to read before sleeping, but not any more. And a few of my friends haven't read a book in years too! I still enjoy reading and want to read, but I can't find the time to do so... I think I'm going to try reading books during exam time too. (Since you just mentioned Harry Potter, I am reminded of the fact that since book seven I haven't read them again!)

Christie has a book about a murder with something Bromide (?) I think, which my Biology teacher enjoyed very much! Aah, I do miss reading and (sometimes) completing a whole book in a day.

Jake said...

I'm not a massive Grisham fan but out of the books of his that I have read 'The Brethren' was definately my favourite.

At the moment I'm re-reading the entire Jeeves and Wooster canon for about the third time. If you like farcical comedy, they are definately a good read.

Beans said...

I don't know whether I mentioned it in my post, but The Brethren is my favourite too!! That might be down to the fact that it was the Grisham book I read, but it was great.

I'll keep my eyes out for Jeeves and Wooster. At the moment I have "They Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" on my desk, which might be the last book I read before semester officially starts!

Jake said...

Oh I saw that in the bookshop last time I was there but didn't fancy it. There is also a movie based on it coming out shortly.

Beans said...

I have heard about the movie, but my main motivation in reading the book was it's length! I have since finished reading it, and it was definitely a brilliantly written book.

It was such a simple but powerful story and I'm just waiting for daylight so I can discuss it with the person I borrowed it from! I would definitely recommend it. :)