Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Book List Meme from Lost in Books

This meme is hosted by Rebecca from Lost in Books.
This week's task is to name 3 books that intimidate you.
Oh boy. Only three?

Men of Mathematics by E.T Bell

I have never been good at math. I could be a case-study for students whose abilities are crippled by well-meaning parents & teachers- we moved a lot (military family) and I missed some lessons and ended up confused. All I can remember is grown-ups saying "well, girls aren't usually good at math, anyway."

Since I like reading to improve myself, I occasionally tackle math books thinking it will help me. This one was on sale at Waldenbooks, I had a coupon and it's a nice hardcover. Turns out, I may have skipped too far ahead. Just maybe.
This is from a random page, in the chapter about Isaac Newton:

The binomial theorem generalizes the simple results like
(a+b)^2=a^2+2ab+b^2, (a+b)^3=a^2+3a^2b+3ab^2+b^3
If you read from the beginning, this is relatively easy. But if you take a break-say, go to the bathroom or sleep or eat-you come back and have to look up words all over again. Am I going senile? Or is this a mental block? I don't know, but maybe the For Dummies series can help.

2. Anything by Heidegger &/or Neitzsche

There is an SNL skit from the 90s featuring Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. In this skit Adam Sandler says "Kill me now, God!"
This is how I feel when I try to read modern philosophers.

Greek philosophers are cool. I get Socrates. I get Plato. I even get Aristotle. They tend to be translated in ways I can understand and their ideas seem more pervasive- I've run into them before.
Modern philosophy is often based on whatever came before it. You have to read Kierkegaard before you read Heidegger and you have to understand Hegel to know what Kierkegaard is going on about.

It's like a really hard game of telephone.

War and Peace
Everyone who does this is probably going to have at least one Russian Novel on their list, I think. I do like Dostoevsky's books. But I've never even cracked
War and Peace open.
When I see it sitting on a shelf, or being lowered by crane into a library or hauled by oxen into a Barnes and Noble, I see my own mortality stretching before me.

Every 19th century novel has bits that seem dry and uninteresting, that you have to slog through (
Moby Dick, for example). That's okay. But if that happens during a book as long as War & Peace, I would find it nearly impossible to finish.Someday, if I am ever imprisoned or laid up with some long illness or confinement, I'll give it a try.
I promise.

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lilly said...

Lol!That's a funny post but I totally agree with you on the mathematics. I also remember having read War & Peace but not what it was about or can't even recall a single character.

Avid Reader said...

I agree with all of these! War and Peace always seemed insurmountable to me.

Jill said...

War and Peace was the first on my list! Also on it is Rohinton Mistry'd A Fine Balance. It's so big and weighty that I am afraid of the commitment it will involve!

Rebecca :) said...

First, I have to commend you for picking up books trying to learn about math. I hate math. I didn't skip lessons because of moving a lot and I still can't add without counting on my fingers. I looked at that Newton equation and started having heart palpitations and broke into a cold sweat.

Second, I'm totally with you on War and Peace. I didn't even get through the movie.

Now, I love Neitzsche in bits and sections but I still haven't mastered sitting down and absorbing large chunks. It takes me a while to absorb the depth of what he is saying.

Thanks so much for participating this week!