Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Latest Books

So I finally finished the book "This is Your Brain on Music", which turned out to be a pretty interesting read. I described it somewhat earlier, but basically it was a book about why we love music, what about music makes our brain recognize, assemble, and appreciate it. It is the kind of thing that I want to read again as I learn more about music and the technical aspects of it, but it was really pretty accessible to the lay reader as well. I recommend it to anyone who just loves music but doesn't actually know why!

Last week I also read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which was incredible. The way it was written was just really impressive. I didn't have any trouble with the writing and punctuation (lack of quotations) that could be annoying to some. There was so much about this book that was so good, and left me wanting more. I think the fact that we didn't really know too much about what caused this apocalyptic event, that we didn't know how old these people were, where they came from, where they were headed would sometimes be frustrating. The way it was written and the fact that the reader can become so invested in the character can balance the frustration with appreciation. It's been a while since I had eight pages left in a book and didn't want to read them because then I would be done. I plan on devouring the remainder of this author's work.

Another book I started recently (it's a big one and I am only 1/4 of the way through) is The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, by Rick Atkinson. This gives a detailed history of the Allied campaign in Sicily and Italy, starting from preparation to make landfall in Sicily. It's amazing how much stuff went wrong for the Allies - how many paratrooper snafus, how much of an issue logistics was, how much of a problem cooperation between England and the US was, and even how much of a problem inter-branch communication and cooperation was. This is an interesting book 150 pages in - it's the kind of history book that reads unlike a history book, and I've enjoyed it thus far.

Finally, my current subway reading is The Second Civil War, by Ronald Brownstein, which tells the story of extreme partisan politics in the United States - how it has evolved since the late 1800s, and how it affects the ability of the legislature to pass laws - what's good about it, what's bad, and (hopefully) what we can do to overcome extreme partisanship. It's part history, part political science, and thus far an informative and easy read. It's been enjoyable learning about the people behind the names on the Congressional Buildings down the street from me - Cannon, Rayburn, Dirksen, etc. I'll write more on this one as time goes on, but it's a good follow-on to the book 'America's Three Regimes' that I read last year. Hopefully the Obamanation of our government will render all this extreme partisanship moot, but I have my doubts.
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