Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ann Littlewood

Ann Littlewood was a zoo keeper in Portland, Oregon for twelve years. She raised lions and cougars, an orangutan; and native mammals, as well as parrots, penguins, and a multitude of owls. The financial realities of raising primates (two boys of her own) led Ann to exchange a hose and rubber boots for a briefcase and pantsuit in the healthcare industry. Ann has maintained her membership in the American Association of Zookeepers and has kept in touch with the zoo world by visiting zoos and through friendships with zoo staffers.

Her new mystery is Night Kill.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I try to balance my reading thus: two mysteries, one non-fiction, one literary fiction. This plan was meant to nourish the zoo mystery series I write, my long-standing fascination with environmentalism, botany and zoology, and a large, erratic list of occasional interests. Well, it was a good idea. My actual current reading includes The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs (encounters with wild animals), Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (a fine first mystery), The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (you'll never look at humanity the same), and Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (about Arab-Americans). Oh, and Darkness & Light by John Harvey and Hannah's Dream by Diane Hammond. Sigh. Not enough hours in the day. At some point I throw up my hands and say, "I can read 'em or I can write 'em, but I can't do both at the same time."
Visit Ann Littlewood's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Claire Berlinski

Claire Berlinski has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New York Sun, the Oxford International Review, Asia Times, the Weekly Standard, the National Review, Policy Review, Azure, Traveler's Tales, and numerous anthologies.

Lion Eyes, the sequel to her novel Loose Lips, was published in Spring 2007. Her first non-fiction book, Menace in Europe, was published in February, 2006. Her new book, There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters, is just out from Basic Books.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Here are some of the books I've looked at over the past week or so. Most are books I'd read before; I just went back to check them again, for one reason or another. I'll try to explain what I was doing that prompted me to pick these up; the logic of it isn't immediately obvious.

I read Bernard Henri-Levy's new book Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism, because I was asked to review it. I don't know if I would have read it otherwise, but I'm very glad I did. I thought it was very effective. The second half of the book, in particular, is outstanding. Then I was thinking about Margaret Thatcher's speech at Bruges (this is the 20-year anniversary of that speech), so I went back to my shelf and had a look at the first and second volumes of her autobiography, as well as her book Statecraft (which I recommend enthusiastically to anyone looking for an introduction to her thoughts about foreign policy). I also re-read parts of John Campbell's gold-standard biography of Thatcher (the second volume), as well as an excellent book, which very few people know about, called The Future of Europe, by the economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi. They make a very compelling argument that Europe is on a state-subsidized train to economic and political irrelevance.

Are we counting reading on the Internet, too? Because if so, I also spent a lot of time on the website of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation. I stopped by to consult the text of the Bruges speech, but I got sidetracked when I saw that the foundation has published the secret files of George Younger, one of Thatcher's longest-serving Cabinet officers. Interesting! I wish these files had been open when I was doing the research for my book.

Then somehow -- there's no logical connection -- I ended up having a look at my friend Elizabeth Pisani's new book about HIV, The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels, and the Business of AIDS. It's great. Then I was thinking about Sarah Palin, which prompted me to think about her speechwriter Matthew Scully and to look again at his book Dominion. This book made a massive impression on me -- in fact, it's the book that made me into a vegetarian. How Scully can reconcile his views with Palin is not quite clear to me. It was none the clearer for having looked at the book again. Somehow from there I followed a link from Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog to and managed to waste half a day there.

I'd go back to compile a list of what I read, but I fear being sucked down the vortex again. I found a villanelle I'd once read by Elizabeth Bishop called One Art, which reminded me that Marilyn Hacker had written a clever villanelle in reply, which prompted me to look that up, which prompted me to read quite a bit of Hacker's poetry that I'd never read before; I then tried my hand at writing a villanelle and discovered that it's pretty tough. Then for no special reason I rounded out the evening by reading the middle parts of American Shaolin, by Matthew Polly, which I started a few weeks ago--I'd skipped right to the end to find out how the big fight turned out, but I got curious to know what happened in between.

Oh, and I re-read "The Waste Land," because a friend was visiting and he'd never read it before, so I read it to him. And I re-read the first few chapters of A Tale of Two Cities, for reasons that would take too long to explain.
Visit Claire Berlinski's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alan Jacobs

Alan Jacobs is professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. He is the author of several books including The Narnian, a biography of C. S. Lewis, and Original Sin: A Cultural History.

His literary and cultural criticism has appeared in a wide range of periodicals, including the Boston Globe, The American Scholar, First Things, Books & Culture, and The Oxford American.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Right now I'm in the middle of Nicholson Baker's witty and curious Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. Baker always writes beautifully, but he's also a man of enthusiasms and frustrations, which is not always good. This is for work, sort of, because I'm in the early stages of writing a book about reading, but I'm also making time to read things just for fun. That was the spirit in which I picked up David Liss's A Conspiracy of Paper: a book about a retired-pugilist-turned-private-investigator in 1719 London had to be quite distant from any contemporary concerns, right? — except that it's also about the early stock market, prone to bubbles of excitement and, and when confidence fails, sudden and dramatic crashes. As I say: quite distant from any contemporary concerns.

I also recently finished Neal Stephenson's new novel Anathem, and was so enthusiastic that I contacted a friend who works for a new online magazine called Culture11 and asked if he would run my review: you can find it here--"World of Wonders."

Next up: Leo Hollis's London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London, a history of the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of 1666.

Alan Jacobs blogs at The American Scene.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Irene Pepperberg

Irene M. Pepperberg is an associate research professor at Brandeis University in Massachusetts and teaches animal cognition at Harvard University. Her work has been featured in major newspapers and magazines in the United States, Europe, and Asia, as well as on tele­vision, including the now-famous interview of Alex by Alan Alda on Scientific American Frontiers. Her new book is Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--And Formed a Deep Bond in the Process.

I recently asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Not much time for reading theses days, but recently finished Water for Elephants and am now reading the galleys for Derek Bickerton's Adam's Tongue.
--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 24, 2008

Barry Goldensohn

Barry Goldensohn is a Professor of English and Poetry at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. He was the Dean of the School of Humanities and Arts at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and has also taught at Goddard College and the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is the author of five collections of poetry.

Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Today I'm reading Diary of a Bad Year and repeatedly Victor Hugo's poem "Booz Endormi," trying to figure out what makes it so powerful in spite of itself.
Read, or listen to Barry Goldensohn read, his poem, "Walking in Fog."

Visit Barry Goldensohn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough is the founder of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, as well as a writer for and the former editor-in-chief of

Her new book is Things That Make Us (Sic): The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar Takes on Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the White House, and the World.

Recently, I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Writing is my day job, but I’m always thinking about what kind of writing I’d like to do next, and how I might stretch my muscles. This means I don’t read a ton of non-fiction, though I do always enjoy it.

I’ve become completely enchanted with children’s literature—specifically, novels for young adults. There have been several articles written about the renaissance of the form and how we’re living in a new golden age, and it’s true. There’s some really incredible stuff out there. If you’re just getting started, check out the Michael Printz award for ideas. The National Book Award committees also pick good choices, and they just released a new raft of nominees. I’ve started seeking out literature from other parts of the world. As the world becomes a more global, interconnected place, I think we’ll see more sharing of literature. So far, most of what I’ve loved hasn’t been translated, but I definitely have my eye on Japan as my next country to visit through a book (so much cheaper than airfare).

Here are some books I’ve enjoyed lately:

The White Darkness is written by the English author Geraldine McCaughrean. She feeds the fierce hunger I've had of late for books written by non-American writers. There's just something that really tickles my ears when I read something with an accent.

My other favorites:

Tales of the Otori by Lian Hearn. These are set in feudal Japan. Originally a trilogy, the series expanded to five books. I would have happily read ten more, and can't wait to see the forthcoming movie. Her writing is beyond gorgeous, and her characters are rich and fantastic—think Ninjas, witches, and superheroes in love and at war. Hearn is an English author living in Australia, though she's spent years in Japan.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. A young magician in England summons a reluctant demon, and together they have to save the world from power-hungry madmen. These books are built beautifully around interesting, compelling, and truly funny characters, and if you can get to the end of the third one without feeling a serious pang, then you need to have your heart examined.

The Spell Book of Listen Taylor by Jaclyn Moriarty. Arthur A. Levine, the editor best known for bringing Harry Potter to the United States, has a great eye for international books that deserve an American audience. He's published Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass) Markus Zusak (Getting the Girl, and one of my non-Levine favorites, The Book Thief). I absolutely love Jaclyn Moriarty, and think Listen Taylor is her best yet. It tells the story of an adolescent girl who discovers a book of spells that undo the lives of all the adults around her. It's marketed as a young-adult novel, but I can't imagine anyone well into old-adulthood (sigh) not loving it.
Visit Martha Brockenbrough's websites at, and

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 20, 2008

Peter Dauvergne

Peter Dauvergne is Professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on the politics of global environmental change, including current projects on sustainable consumption and corporate social responsibility. His books include The Shadows of Consumption (MIT Press, 2008), Paths to a Green World (MIT Press, 2005) (with Jennifer Clapp), Loggers and Degradation in the Asia-Pacific (Cambridge University Press, 2001), and Shadows in the Forest (MIT Press, 1997), winner of the 1998 Sprout Award from the International Studies Association for the best book in global environmental affairs.

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I am an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction. I only write non-fiction, but I'm constantly reading fiction to enjoy a good story as well as develop my ear for high-quality writing. I mainly read non-fiction books to think about big ideas, although I have a strong preference for books that draw me through an argument with striking images, curious stories, and convincing information.

I especially enjoy reading classics by writers who I feel can help me to improve my own writing. A few days ago I finished Ernest Hemingway's novel, To Have and Have Not. I finished this short book, but I was not able to relate to the rough language, wooden characters, or disjointed narrative: I would not recommend it. (The Old Man and the Sea and For Whom the Bell Tolls are much better.) I'm now near the end of John Steinbeck's Cannery Row, a light novel with lively characters and humorous stories. (Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath are both more hard-hitting.) In the next day or so, I'll begin George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Unlike with fiction, I tend to read two or three non-fiction books simultaneously. I'm now reading Paul Collier's The Bottom Billion and James Gustave Speth's The Bridge at the Edge of the World. I will soon start Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded as well as the book Beef, a history of how the cattle industry has changed the world by Andrew Rimas and Evan Fraser.
Read more about The Shadows of Consumption, and visit Peter Dauvergne's faculty webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peter Golenbock

Peter Golenbock's books include two titles which hit the bookstands last Tuesday, In the Country of Brooklyn and American Prince, a book he wrote with Tony Curtis. His biography of George Steinbrenner comes out in the spring.

The introduction to In the Country of Brooklyn begins:
The is one of those magical experiences where at the beginning of the process you wonder if any publisher will be savvy enough to understand exactly what it is you’re trying to do, and at the end of the process you say to yourself, “How in the world did I accomplish this?”[read on]
A few days ago I asked Golenbock what he was reading. His reply:
More often than not, I read biographies or autobiographies. I recently finished reading Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown, a really great journey into the life of one of rock's geniuses. Before that I read The Great One, a biography of Jackie Gleason by William Henry, and before that I completed Bobby and J. Edgar, a truly great piece of reporting and writing about the Kennedys by Burton Hersh.
Learn more about Peter Golenbock and his work at his official website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 17, 2008

Andy Clark

Andy Clark is Professor of Philosophy in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He is the author of several books including Being There: Putting Brain, Body and World Together Again, Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies and The Future Of Human Intelligence, and the newly released Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and Cognitive Extension.

Earlier this week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Fiction Books:

Michael Chabon: Kavalier and Clay
Neal Stephenson: Interface


True Believers (Marvel Limited Series)
The Authority (Wildstorm)


Jerry Fodor: LOT 2
Maryanne Wolf: Proust and the Squid
Visit Andy Clark's University of Edinburgh webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Rachel Toor

Rachel Toor teaches writing at Eastern Washington University, is a columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, and a senior writer for Running Times. She is the author of The Pig and I: How I Learned to Love Men (Almost) as Much as I Love My Pets and Admissions Confidential: An Insider’s Account of the Elite College Selection Process.

Her new book is Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running.

A few days ago I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
Thinking about the answer to this question made me realize that my reading habits are, well, both odd and entrenched. I always have one audio book of nonfiction going in my car. I just finished listening to John McPhee read Uncommon Carriers. (He has a kind of twang, for a Princeton boy, and sounds older than I think he should, given that he is, you know, a god.) Next up is Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary?

I always have a book, and about a zillion episodes of This American Life, on my iPod, which I listen to when I run (if I'm not running with other people or doing a speed workout). Right now I'm about a third of the way through my friend Jess Walter's novel, The Zero, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

By my bed I have towering stacks. During daylight hours, I'm only allowed to read nonfiction that is work-related. So I'm going through Nicholas Lemann's history of the SAT, The Big Test, and also Jerome Karabel's The Chosen, about the history of admissions at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. This is because I was asked to write a chapter for a three-volume history of the business of higher education.

Then, before I go to sleep, I always read from a mystery (or other genre-ish) novel. At this moment it's an older Lee Child, from his Jack Reacher series.

And, of course, I've just re-read Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains and am about to start in on (again) Michael Lewis's exquisite Moneyball, for a graduate class I'm teaching.
Visit Rachel Toor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nick Bostrom

Nick Bostrom is the Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University and a full professor in the Faculty of Philosophy. He has more than 140 publications to his name, including the books Anthropic Bias (Routledge, 2002), Global Catastrophic Risks (OUP, 2008), and Enhancing Humans (OUP, 2008).

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I happen at the moment to be reading A Primer on Decision Making: How Decisions Happen, by James G. March. Judging by the title and the cover, it looks like yet another one of those decision-theory-for-managers books that clog the business section in most bookstores (you know the ones typically produced by business consultants who feel that they must publish one book to establish their credibility, whether or not they have anything new to say). And the undistinguished prose also bears the hallmarks of something composed in great haste. So much greater, then, my delight in discovering that this is actually a very good book - substantial, original, erudite, and wise (judging from what I've read thus far). A special virtue of the book is that the author has a grasp on two very different outlooks on decision-making: an economic expected utility framework, and a sociological perspective, and he is able to bring these together in interesting ways. The book certainly towers over all the competitors in the same category that I have come across. Instead of flicking through it quickly, as was my original intention, I'm now planning to give it a careful read.

I'm also reading The Shape of the Past: A Philosophical Approach to History by Gordon Graham, and a short technical paper, "Convergence of Expected Utilities with Algorithmic Probability Distributions," by Peter de Blanc). I've not read enough of these yet to comment.

I'm also reading as an audiobook (I love audiobooks!) The Diary of Samuel Pepys.
Visit Nick Bostrom's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Asali Solomon

Asali Solomon was born and raised in Philadelphia and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Trinity College.

Get Down, her first book, earned her a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” for 2007, and was a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

Earlier this month I asked Solomon what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm reading for the classes I teach, but it turns out to be serious pleasure reading. I just re-read Toni Morrison's Love, which disguises itself as a sort of playful riff on some of Morrison's other books, but turns out to be the history of everything: women, men, girls, black people, America, love, food, pettiness, class, cruelty, snitching, sex, Eden, social movements. It sounds daunting but it goes down easy and has about the most amazing final sequence I've read in any book.

I've also been brushing up on the stories of Flannery O'Connor, the only writer who can make me laugh out loud at ignorant racist white Southerners and their black farm help.

Then finally I'm reading Fledgling, the final novel by Octavia Butler, whose sudden death in 2006 I still can't get over. It's about a 50something genetically engineered black vampire in the body of an 11 year old girl who has to avenge the deaths of her family. It's one of the most profound and freaky books you'll ever read. (RIP, Octavia).
Read an excerpt from Get Down, and learn more about the book and author at the publisher's website and the Asali Solomon AALBC webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, October 10, 2008

Joe Abercrombie

UK fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie is the author of the First Law Trilogy: The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged and Last Argument of Kings.

Recently, I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Over the last couple of weeks - in an airport, on a flight, and standing on the stairs for an hour this evening - I have been reading an exciting first novel that has set its genre aflame, called The Blade Itself.

I know what you're thinking. "But isn't that your book? How dare you promote it in such a barefaced manner? You pompous arse!" And you'd be right. I am a pompous arse. But not for that reason. Because although I have been reading an exciting first novel entitled The Blade Itself, the genre it set aflame was not fantasy but crime, and the author was not me, but a very pleasant young man from Chicago called Marcus Sakey.

Allow me to explain. It was, I think, several months after I sold my book, The Blade Itself, to a publisher, but several months before it was published, that I became aware that someone else had sold a book called The Blade Itself in the US. There is no hint of copying, the timing makes it impossible, we had simply, simultaneously, picked the same title, derived from a quote from Homer's Odyssey, "the blade itself incites to violence." Great minds think alike, I guess. And mine. When The Blade Itself was optioned for a film a few months ago I received a welter of congratulations from readers. A welter which greatly surprised me, since my agent had not been in touch. It was, in fact, Marcus Sakey's book, The Blade Itself, which had been taken to the bosom of Hollywood. In Siena, Italy a couple of weeks ago, my wife needed a book for the flight, so we stopped into a bookshop to peruse the English Language section. As I occasionally do when in a bookshop, I checked to see if my books were in stock. They did have The Blade Itself. You guessed it. Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself.

So I thought I'd check it out. And I'm glad I did. It's a recognisable style of story - guy with a shady past makes good but his shady past comes back to haunt him - but it's nicely written with some good characterisation, a strong eye for detail, and the tough prose one would expect. At times I felt the plot tended to drive the characters rather than the other way around, but the build up and climax really were cracking, hence my finishing the book standing on the stairs. All in all a great piece of crime writing, and I look forward to reading whatever else Sakey puts out. Providing none of it shares titles with any of my other books, of course....

So my advice? Read The Blade Itself. Both of 'em.
Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz wrote of the First Law Trilogy: "Abercrombie has written the finest epic fantasy trilogy in recent memory. He's one writer no one should miss."

Learn more about the author and his work at Joe Abercrombie's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Martin Millar

Martin Millar is the author of Love and Peace with Melody Paradise, Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation, Lux the Poet, The Good Fairies of New York, Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving, Ruby & The Stone Age Diet, Lonely Werewolf Girl, and Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me ... and other novels and plays and short stories and articles.

Bookslut called Lonely Werewolf Girl "a combination political thriller and werewolf soap opera -- if your idea of soap opera includes some seriously bloody confrontations between creatures that can rip your arms off.... Basically, this book is a delicious 550-page romp through urban fantasy versions of London and the Scottish countryside that draws you in from the first few pages and does not let you go."

At the end of last month I asked Millar what he was reading. His reply:
I like Japanese comics, or Manga. In the past few months I've worked my way through a large bundle of Naruto, by Masashi Kishimoto. Naruto features hordes of fighting Ninja, which is basically what I want from Manga. I've been reading some of Bleach, too, by Tite Kubo. Both Naruto and Bleach are very popular Manga but I've been reading a few other interesting titles too, such as Apothecarius Argentum by Tomomi Yamashita, an unusual tale about a Japanese apothecary.

Also on the comic front I've been reading some huge volumes of Neil Gaiman's Collected edition of Sandman, which is great. I did read Sandman when it first came out, and I'm very pleased to have these collected editions.

Other than that I've been re-reading the collected short stories of Somerset Maugham. Somerset Maugham is one of my favourite writers, and an excellent story-teller, though I'm not sure if many people read him nowadays. I particularly like his stories based on his travels in the far east, through the rubber plantations of Malaysia and Singapore, in the 1920s.

I greatly enjoyed Sons of Avalon: Merlin's Prophecy, by Dee Marie, an Arthurian novel concerning the early days of Merlin, and now I've moved on to Selected Political Speeches by Cicero. I'm keen on classical history, and Marcus Tullius Cicero is my favourite Roman. We know a lot about him, thanks to all the letters and speeches he left behind. He was executed on the orders of Marc Anthony; I've never liked Marc Anthony because of that.
Visit Martin Millar's website, blog, and MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, October 6, 2008

Susan Reinhardt

Susan Reinhardt has been called “the Southern Belle’s answer to David Sedaris” and “a modern-day, Southern-fried Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry.”

She is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist and author of three books -- Not Tonight, Honey: Wait ‘til I’m a Size 6 (2005); Don’t Sleep With a Bubba Unless Your Eggs are in Wheelchairs (2007); and Dishing with the Kitchen Virgin (2008).

Recently, I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
It's really crazy because I read three books at a time. Currently, I'm reading one I'd never choose on my own, but a friend said the writing was sharp and clever. It's called Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, and it's by Diablo Cody, who wrote Juno, the film, and won and Oscar for it.

I'm also reading a sappy Nicholas Sparks novel, Nights in Rodanthe.

In addition, I read short humorous stories by authors like Laurie Notaro and David Sedaris.
Read Reinhardt's interview with Mary Ward Menke at January Magazine.

Visit Susan Reinhardt's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dan Hooper

Dan Hooper is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago and an Associate Scientist in the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, where he investigates dark matter, supersymmetry, neutrinos, extra dimensions, and cosmic rays.

He is the author of Dark Cosmos: In Search of Our Universe's Missing Mass and Energy, a SEED magazine Notable Book, and the newly released Nature's Blueprint: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force.

Last month I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
If you look at the stack of books currently on my nightstand, you will find Bob Woodward's new book, The War Within and Unended Quest by the great philosopher of science, Karl Popper.

Along with these, which I am actually in the process of reading, I have a much larger stack of books that I would like to get to eventually. These include The Black Hole War by Leonard Susskind and the novel Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (I very much enjoyed his other book, Wicked).

Within the last month or so, I finished reading Bill Clinton's autobiography My Life and The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis. I also read a book about the philosophy of Ayn Rand, but can't say that I found it very compelling.
Visit Dan Hooper's website and view his lecture on dark matter and dark energy for non-scientists.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thomas P. Slaughter

Thomas P. Slaughter, Professor of History at the University of Rochester, is the author, most recently, of The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition (Hill & Wang, September 2008).

Last week I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Do you really want to know that this morning I have read chapter drafts from two doctoral dissertations, a book manuscript for a New York publishing house, a manuscript submitted to a journal of environmental history, and my email? I also started on the New York Times during breakfast, and found that yet again I have not won a MacArthur genius award, but that no one whose work I despise won one either.

Now, I’m going to write; I’m working on a book called Independence: The Beginnings of the United States, which looks at the American Revolution from a global perspective on the eighteenth century and in light of Just War theory. When I get home this afternoon, I will dive into the snail mail; after that there will be the Algebra II text that my son is wrestling with and a draft journal entry that my daughter will be writing for her English class. The first is a challenge; the second will be gripping. Tonight, I will pick up where I left off last night in the Library of America volume Zuckerman Bound, which collects Phillip Roth’s trilogy from the 1980s. I finished The Ghost Writer and am now reading Zuckerman Unbound.

I also have the September issue of Lapham’s Quarterly on the nightstand; this one is about “Ways of Learning” and I am fascinated by the journal’s concept, organization, quirky choices, and brilliant strokes. I want to finish Elizabeth Kolbert’s article in the July 7th and 14th New Yorker, which is on the Danish Island of Sams, where residents have achieved zero carbon emissions and produce more energy from renewable resources than they use.

I used to read the New York Review of Books, but it bores me so I go to sleep a little earlier instead.
Read more about The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition at the publisher's website.

Thomas P. Slaughter's other publications include The Whiskey Rebellion and Exploring Lewis and Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue