Category Archives: Book reviews

P.G. Wodehouse

So I started reading a few of his novels, including the collection “What Ho!” What to say? He’s generally good for a laugh; much of the humor has a timeless aspect that stands up pretty well after decades. I would … Continue reading

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“Ever since Darwin” by Stephen Jay Gould

I picked this collection of essays (selected from Gould’s mid-1970s contributions to Natural History) up during a recent visit to Rodgers Book Barn (along with “The Panda’s Thumb”, and another book I’ll write about later). Pop-science writing always runs the … Continue reading

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“Jackson, 1964” by Calvin Trillin

Trillin is wonderful and I would read pretty much anything he writes (though Tepper isn’t going out wasn’t my favorite). This collection (published in 2015) is of his reporting on race over 40 years, beginning in 1964. (There is another … Continue reading

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Finding the magic coins

I’ve been reading through Daniel Velleman and Stan Wagon’s puzzle book Bicycle or Unicycle? and generally enjoying it – the puzzles include simple variations on classics, clever things I haven’t seen before, and some nontrivial uses of real mathematical thinking … Continue reading

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“A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson

This has been on my shelf for a while — I certainly read some of it in 2011 (the bookmark I was using was an ATM receipt from FPSAC Iceland) but then set it aside until recently.  Overall, I thought … Continue reading

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“Urban Forests” by Jill Jonnes

The subtitle of this book is “a natural history of trees and people in the American cityscape”, but it is really a social history, not a natural history.  Much of the book concerns the question of how the ornamental trees … Continue reading

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“Tepper isn’t going out” by Calvin Trillin

I don’t think I would describe this as a “novel” — rather, it is a joke taken too far.  But Trillin is a genuinely funny person, and there are amusing moments throughout.  A pleasant, easy, silly read.  I am a … Continue reading

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“Dialogues on mathematics” by Alfred Renyi

For various reasons I have recently been reading a bunch of books broadly addressing the theme “what is mathematics?”  (Linderholm was accidentally a lead-in, and clearly belongs in the category.)  This one is a short (under 100 pages) and snappy read, … Continue reading

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“Mathematics Made Difficult” by Carl E. Linderholm

I have seen attributed to Halmos (Linderholm’s advisor) the description of this book as an in-joke to the mathematical community, and that’s about right: I don’t think it would be possible to explain why it’s funny to someone who doesn’t … Continue reading

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“The Table Comes First” by Adam Gopnik

In the preface, Gopnik writes, “We shouldn’t intellectualize food,” and on that count I think the book is a failure; as a result, some chapters are something of a slog. But others are wonderful.  (They vary quite a lot in … Continue reading

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