A Diverse Reading List

I looked over to my stack of books and saw that I have a very diverse reading list at the moment. I thought it would be fun to list the books and share a favorite quote.

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

This is this first book by Stegner that I’m reading. Actually all the books that I’m reading at the moment are written by the authors who I’m reading for the first time. Crossing to Safety is my book group’s pick from last month which I wasn’t able to finish. (I had a good excuse with the new job. Yes I usually finish the book before we meet!) Here’s a favorite passage from the sections I’ve read already:

“In fact, if you forget mortality, and that used to be easier here than in most places, you could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras. Seen in either geological or biological terms, we don’t warrant attention as individuals. One of us doesn’t differ that much from another, each generation repeats its parents, the works we build to outlast us are not much more enduring than anthills, and much less so than coral reefs. Here everything returns upon itself, repeats and renews itself, and present can hardly be told from past.” pg 4

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Basho
Translated and introduced by Nobuyuki Yuasa

I’ve read Basho’s work before, but never this one which is of his most renown works. And when I was in the bookstore browsing, the thorough introduction by Nobuyuki Yuaka caught my eye. He places Basho in historic perspective and explains his significant part in the development of the Haiku.

Here’s one of Basho’s haikus at the beginning of a Travel Sketch entitled “The Records of a Weather-Exposed Skeleton”

In a way
It was fun
Not to see Mount Fuji
In foggy rain

Vertigo by W.G. Sebald (More on Sebald in The Guardian)
Translated by Michael Hulse

I’ve had this book for several years, so I’m not sure where it came from. I’m guessing I read about W.G Sebald and nabbed it somewhere along the way and hadn’t found time to read it yet. He’s one of those authors I’ve been meaning to discover for a while and even though he is German, I’m reading him in English translation.

”  There they stayed for several days, visiting the famed underground galleries of the Hallein salt mines, where one of the miners made Mme Gherardi a present of a twig which was encrusted with thousands of crystals. When they returned to the surface of the earth once again, Beyle writes, the rays of the sun set off in it a manifold glittering such as he had only seen flashing from diamonds as ladies revolved with their partners in a ballroom blazing with light.
The protracted crystallisation process, which had transformed the dead twig into a truly miraculous object, appeared to Beyle, by his own account, as an allegory for the growth of love in the salt mines of the soul. He expounded this idea at length to Mme Gherardi. She for her part, however, was not prepared to sacrifice the childish bliss that filled her that day in order to explore with Beyle the deeper meaning of what was doubtless a very pretty allegory as she sardonically put it.” pgs.25-26

Code 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig

I bought this book last March at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas where Lessig spoke. Lessing now at Harvard, was a Stanford Law professor and the founder of their Center for the Internet and Society, gave a masterful presentation and I wanted to dig deeper into his thinking. This is the next book I’m going to read. The blurb on the back says: “this foundational book as become a classic in its field” and “In this remarkably clear and elegantly written book [Lessig] takes apart many myths about cyberspace and analyzes its underlying architechture.”-Wired.


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