April 2021 books read

Running teddy bear
  • The Secret World of Teddy Bears: A Rare and Privileged Glimpse into the Lives They Live When You’re Not There – Pamela Prince, 1983. A compendium of photographs of teddy bears doing various human things, accompanied by cheesy poems about them as characters. Not really worth listing except for my own future reference: I came across this in a bookstore when it was new and the photo of the jogging teddy bear stuck in my head. Years later, when I became a runner, I tried to find it again, but there are so many teddy bear books that I couldn’t ID it. About a decade ago I stumbled across it in an antiques shop in Florida, decided it was not worth what they were asking, but either didn’t record the details or lost track of them. The research was easier now – thank you Internet! I do love that the running teddy bear (Howard) has a “dog” (Rudy) who is also a teddy bear.
  • Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Use About Our Future – Peter Ward, 2007. This was on my to-read list for a long time, and the content is interesting, but alas the writing is horrible – very long, confusing sentences. I did learn about Canfield oceans, the Manicouagan crater, and an unlikely-sounding theory that people living in tropical latitudes all need drugs to get through the hot and humid days (kava, betel nut, khat, coca) – don’t all human societies have intoxicants?
  • Firefly: Legacy Edition, Book One – 2018 (compilation of the Serenity comic book #1-3). I love the TV series, and these stories are a bridge between them and the movie. I enjoyed them, especially the variety of artist takes on the characters, but it doesn’t quite scratch the itch and I didn’t rush to request the sequel.
  • Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter – Ben Goldfarb, 2018 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • Howards End – E. M. Forster, 1910 – For Second Monday. Quotes marked but lost.
  • A Fatal Grace – Louise Penny, 2006. I’m really enjoying the Chief Inspector Gamache series so far, and this is only the second. Three Pines is delightful even though it feels quite unrealistic based on my experience of small rural towns (but maybe Quebec is different!).
  • Asimov’s Annotated Paradise Lost – text John Milton 1674, notes by Isaac Asimov 1974 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • The Number of the Beast – Robert Heinlein, 1980. Re-reading late Heinlein feels more and more like eating processed snack foods – I enjoy it enough to keep going, but I know there are better things out there I’ll like even more. This time the pull was revisiting the wish fulfillment of being able to access fictional places, especially Oz and the Lensman universe (which I only know through this book – I’ve tried a couple of times but the pulp content has proved too high for me in the raw form…)
  • Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America – Kerby Miller, 1985. Such a dense book I mostly skimmed it, but still pulled quotes so TBD.
  • The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own – Joshua Becker, 2016. OK but not memorable compared to other declutter books I’ve read. Every opportunity to re-awaken any miminalist instincts I have are welcome, though, as I incline more to maximalism (with a family tendency to hoard).
  • Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change – Maggie Smith, 2020 – The author of the amazing “Good Bones” tweeted these thoughts to herself in the aftermath of a devastating divorce. It’s somewhere between self-help and poetry, and 100% great.

I’m the literary executor for my father, Peter Caws, and I’ve been scanning and uploading his articles that weren’t already digitized. (Then I’ll go back and OCR the ones that are just image scans so there will be full text for those as well.) He was a philosopher who strove to write clearly enough that a general audience would understand his work, so I’ve been enjoying the reading as I proofread and remove the word-dividing hyphens. The two I did in April:

  • “What is Structuralism?” (Partisan Review, Vol 35 #1, 1968). I started with this one because it was requested by a researcher. “All works have constantly to be rethought if they are to be more than archaeological curiosities.” It also features an amusing caricature of four leading lights of structuralism (Foucault, Lacan, Levi-Strauss, and Barthes) by Maurice Henry.
  • “Mathematics and the Laws of Nature” (Bulletin of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics, Vol 35 No 2, 1959).