Category Archives: Book Notes

L&C: The New Yorker on Cults and Narratives

As if I had cued it with yesterday’s post about Why People Believe, particularly the final item by David Brooks, as well as the last of my four new provisional conclusions, the new issue of The New Yorker has a … Continue reading

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Lewis Thomas’ THE YOUNGEST SCIENCE

Subtitled “Notes of a Medicine-Watcher,” this is a 1983 collection of essays in an autobiographical structure by the author of three acclaimed books of essays, beginning with THE LIVES OF A CELL. (I reviewed the third one here). The startling … Continue reading

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L&C: Steven Pinker on Steven Johnson

Sometimes a good book review can save you the trouble of reading the book itself — or propel you into reading a book you might otherwise pass over.

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Dole & Asimov’s PLANETS FOR MAN

Stephen H. Dole and Isaac Asimov, PLANETS FOR MAN (Random House, 1964) Here’s an older book co-written by Isaac Asimov, based on a RAND study by Stephen H. Dole, called PLANETS FOR MAN, from 1964. It’s about consolidating available knowledge … Continue reading

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Nonfiction Notes: Adam Grant’s THINK AGAIN

Adam Grant, THINK AGAIN: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know (2021) This is a recent book, still on the bestseller lists, by an author I had not previously encountered. He’s a professor and TED talker. The book seems … Continue reading

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Nonfiction Notes: Alan Lightman’s PROBABLE IMPOSSIBILITIES

Alan Lightman: PROBABLE IMPOSSIBILITIES (2021) This is a new book of essays by a professor at MIT, author of earlier books including the well-regarded novel Einstein’s Dreams (Wikipedia, way back in 1993) and most recently of essay collection Searching for … Continue reading

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Nonfiction Notes: Elizabeth Kolbert’s UNDER A WHITE SKY

This modestly-length book is a sequel of sorts to the author’s The Sixth Extinction (2014), which won a Pulitzer Prize and which I greatly admired. (My review here.) That book was about how the human impact on the planet, especially … Continue reading

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Nonfiction Notes: Carl Sagan’s BILLIONS & BILLIONS

Carl Sagan: BILLIONS & BILLIONS: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (1996, Random House) This was Carl Sagan’s final book, it says, published in 1997 not long after his premature death in 1996 at age … Continue reading

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Notes and Quotes: Robert A. Heinlein’s BETWEEN PLANETS

This is the fifth of Heinlein’s so-called “juveniles,” what would be called YA (young adult) books today, that Heinlein published from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. I posted about the second of them, SPACE CADET, here last year, … Continue reading

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Notes and Quotes: Richard Dawkins’ UNWEAVING THE RAINBOW

Here is a middle-period book by the Oxford scientist whose writing mostly focuses on evolution; this one is an exception. Its topic is the beauty of science, how science addresses the “appetite for wonder,” and how people who don’t understand … Continue reading

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