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What was the Whole Earth Catalog?

20 Nov

I still have several editions on my book shelf!

(Hat tip to BoingBoing)

Philip K. Dick dreams of bookstores

20 Oct

A few weeks ago, I wrote about books appearing in dreams. Recently, I have been reading Philip K. Dick’s novel Valis and last night I came across this:

“The Empire never ended,” Fat quoted to himself. That one sentence appeared over and over again in his exegesis; it had become his tag line. Originally the sentence had been revealed to him in a great dream. In the dream he again was a child, searching dusty used-book stores for rare old science fiction magazines, in particular Astoundings. In the dream he had looked through countless tattered issues, stacks upon stacks, for the priceless serial entitled “The Empire Never Ended.” If he could find it and read it he would know everything; that had been the burden of the dream.

What is striking to me is that I have had similar dreams of looking in bookstores for some important book that would clear up the great mysteries of life.

My guess is that “The Empire Never Ends” is a reference to Asimov’s Foundation series, which first appeared as a serial in Astounding Stories.

61 Books in a Year

26 Jul

Ken Norton explains how he did it:

When I analyzed my reading habits, I realized that despite only finishing five or six books a year, I was already spending a big portion of my evening reading: social media, the news, Silicon Valley think pieces, and my Pocket backlog. Some of it would be worthwhile, but I wasn’t deliberate in how I chose to spend my time (ahem, Wikipedia wormholes). Junk reading, like junk food, is momentarily satisfying but terrible for you in the long term. I didn’t need to read more, I thought, I just needed to read healthier.

He has four other suggestions. I wonder how much of my reading is junk reading? There are certain blogs I look at everyday, but I think I mostly profit from that. I don’t spend time on Twitter or Facebook, but I do spend a lot of time reading newspapers on my Kindle. Norton seems to have the same issue:

I’m still a news junkie when it comes to politics, but I’ve metered the time I spend reading the news (primarily to keep my blood pressure down). I subscribe to important publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post, and I try to pepper short bursts of news over the course of the day. I also don’t load news or articles on my Kindle.

 

 

Public Service Alert: Scam Sellers on Amazon

17 Jul

I buy a lot of books from Amazon and I often buy them from third party sellers. Many of the books I purchase are out of print and hard to find and I don’t mind the wait, since my pile of unread books is always high.

However, I was recently scammed by a third-party seller on Amazon and I thought I would let my readers know about it.

I ordered a book from from a third party seller on Amazon, the price was attractive, but it never arrived. When I checked into it I found these reviews on the seller:

amazon

There were a couple hundred reviews along the same lines. It turn out that this a common scam on Amazon, here ‘s an article from Forbes with more details.

The most straightforward way to protect yourself from this would be to pay attention to the seller reviews.

Does Tyler Cowen have a limited vocabulary?

16 Jun

In a recent blog post, Tyler Cowen wrote  “I think of myself as commanding only a limited English-language vocabulary.”

I am very skeptical of this claim.

Cowen has a Ph.D. from Harvard and higher education is positively correlated with vocabulary size. Cowen is also a famously fast reader of complex academic texts. I do not see how such a reading speed would be possible without good sight reading knowledge of a very large vocabulary.

Here is Cowen’s advice for reading fast.

And here is his trip to The Strand with Michael Orthofer.

“How To Read 100 Books A Year”

28 Apr

Things are pretty busy over here at Peakmemory with the approaching end of the semester. So I draw your attention to this piece by Darius Foroux.

Always Be Reading means that you:
Read on the train
Read while you’re breastfeeding your baby
Read while you’re eating
Read at the doctor’s office
Read at work
And most importantly — read while everyone else is wasting their time watching the news or checking Facebook for the 113th time that day.
If you do that, you’ll read more than 100 books in a year. Here’s how. Most people read 50 pages an hour. If you read 10 hours a week, you’ll read 26,000 pages a year. Let’s say the average book you read is 250 pages: In this scenario, you’ll read 104 books in a year.

Raymond Smullyan

13 Feb

I am surrounded by the books of Raymond Smullyan and I was very sad to read of his death at age 97 in today’s New York Times. When time allows, I have been been very slowly working my way through his Set Theory and the Continuum Problem (co-authored with Melvin Fitting). For a more gentle introduction to his thought try Who Knows?: A Study of Religious Consciousness or his autobiography Some Interesting Memories: A Paradoxical Life.

Here is piece composed by Jeanell Carrigan in honor of Smullyan:

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