Monday, February 20, 2012

Book list, classes and parallel universes

I am back from class, and it's late.  I signed up for another course--this one on Seamanship.  It's basic information but helpful in preparation for Sea School which I plan to attend some time in the near future.  I am going to go for a Master's license of as much tonnage as I am allowed with my qualifying sea time.  Most probably, that will be a 50 ton vessel.  One would think that after so many years of school, that I would be sick of it by now.  But it seems that I am a born student of something, whether it is marine science, marine piloting, seamanship, or the Twelve Steps.

Tonight, we talked a bit about the recent Costa Concordia wreck on the reef off the coast of Italy.  It seems to eerily echo what happened with the Titanic.  A misjudgment and human error resulted in a terrible tragedy, although the Concordia incident was not nearly as horrible as that of the Titanic.  I've read a few books on the Titanic sinking, and every one sends chills through me.

Reading starts my day and also ends it.  I read a few blogs and read the newspaper (which takes all of 15 minutes in this town) in the morning.  In the evening, I read more blogs, read class material, and finish up the day with the latest book.

Reading has been a great escape for me over the years.  I still lose myself in books, just as I did as a kid.  Back then, it was a good way to avoid having to go to the dinner table.  It was a way to separate myself from my father when he was in his cups.  Now, it's a way to learn about people, adventures, and life experiences that I find fascinating.  Maybe there is still the escapism in books.  I don't really care.  All I know is that in the few hours a day that I spend reading, I come away a better person for it.

Here's a list of what's stacked on our bedside tables:

Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond between People and Dogs by Caroline Knapp. Ms. Knapp lost her parents, sobered up and adopted Lucille who provided not only companionship but love.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. An honest look at a genius who changed so much in technology.  A revolutionary of a different ilk.

Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz.  You can tell that we like reading about dogs.  Knowing how dogs view the world gives me hope that humans may one day be as civilized.

Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Here is the question of this book: "What is reality?". Lots of information on physics for the non-theorist. That's good. String theory and its hypotheses of ten spatial dimensions and one time dimension, parallel universes, and time travel make me aware that "Beam me up, Scotty" may indeed be possible.

The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks.  Passion, sadness, love, rage, sex--lots to think about and to quiet the mind.

Greedy Bastards by Dylan Ratigan.  Bank bailouts, outsourcing, corporate greed, oil, health care--I need to read Rumi after reading this.  And also think about a parallel universe.  Che (see below) had a solution but not one that I like.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.  Another type of parallel universe that isn't pleasant. Heavy stuff about an adolescent who was passed from one dysfunctional family to another.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion.  Not as good as the Year of Magical Thinking, but another look at death and the fears of getting old.

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson.  After 800 pages, I will know more about Cuban history, the revolution,  and the enigmatic Che than I want to, but social injustice is something that interests me.  I am ploughing through it, even though the sociopathic behavior and the mass murder of so many is hard to take.  Not a parallel universe to Steve Jobs. And not the solution to the Greedy Bastards.

I'm getting ready to head off to read for an hour.  It feels like a good night to read about dogs.  Here's hoping for insight.

What books are you reading? Give a little synopsis if you want. 


  1. Love the reading Syd -- I finished Inside Dogs a few months back. And I'm the same kind of eternal student -- always studying something. An old habit.

  2. I like to read non fiction and biographies also. Presently reading the 4 Hour Body. Sounds good in theory..but is rather punishing in practice.

  3. Syd,

    I admire your determination. I too believe learning is a life long avocation. Although, all I sit on myself is a high school diploma, not a single hour of college I feel learning is a way of maintaining youth, body and mind. Maybe it is just my excuse but learning can be done outside the classroom. Being curious drives me to read, write and analyze what I see and experience. That's a powerful motivator.

  4. The books on my table are very different, but we share the love of reading.

  5. I read every day too. Thanks for sharing your reading list! I see at least a couple I need to add to my list.

  6. I think growing up in an alcoholic household nurtured my love for reading as well. I just finished Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and have been trying to finish L'etranger by Camus. I speak French every day but can't seem to get myself to read it.

    If you haven't already, check out In The Heart of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick a great read for sealovers.

  7. My nonfiction is usually covered by New Yorker magazine. I learn so much in those pages. I read all the time and when I'm not reading with my eyes, I'm listening to books on one sort of player device or another.
    And blog-reading, of course!

  8. Pack of Two sounds good. I read Running with Scissors...the rest is pretty deep stuff. I have Blue Nights but haven't read it yet. Finance...bleck, although of course it affects my life everyday. You are a smarty Syd....that just seems to emanate from your posts. :o) I am just me. I do love me some Rumi though and Sharon Olds. Have you read any of her work? The Father is really something.

    I had a lady who just recently died...the second oldest in our county at 111. She was from England and so adorable and had all of her wits about her. She told me that her neighbor had been one of the musicians who played music while the ship sank. She said she went to his memorial and cried a lot. She was so sad that he was gone.

  9. have a few books on taht list that i def want to read between the isaakson book and the one on che...i love books and they def are an escape for me from time to time...

  10. The fate of the Titanic always gives me chills, too. I would like to read the Steve Jobs book. Please let us know what you think of it. I wish I had more time to read. I'm thinking of investing in Lionsgate entertainment, so I may read The Hunger Games next.

  11. I recently finished
    "Overdiagnosed - Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health" A fascinating read.
    Books have been a comfort, a consolation and escape for me since I was a very small child. I've taught myself to sew, do stained glass, type, garden, paint, and more, all with books.

  12. I can't fall asleep at night if I don't spend some time reading. I've been wanting to read 'Inside of a dog' for awhile.

    At the moment dealing with Pickles blindness, I'm looking for something to give me more insight into what she's going through. I think the fact she used to be (she's intimidated by crowds now) a working dog makes it harder for her.

    I think the seaman classes are perfect for you. The sea seems to hold some part of your spirit. (Hugs)Indigo

  13. I also love to read, but that wasn't always the case. Growing up my parents had to work hard to get me to read, but then I hit high school and you couldn't get me to stop reading!

    I also like to read about dogs and feel the similar hope the insight will give me. I will have to check out Inside the Dog.

    My list of want reads is quite large... I just take it one at a time. Right now I'm trying to get through Daniel Goleman's Working with Emotional Intelligence. I find the topic of Emotional Intelligence fascinating.

  14. I read "Running With Scissors" a couple years ago, before seeing the movie. Last fall I read "Dry" and most recently "Magical Thinking" (yeah, that title 'spoke' to me) and "Possible Side Effects". Augusten may be self absorbed to say the least, but I love his sagas in the first person.

    Next up is his brother's book:"Look Me in The Eye" about growing up 'different' and finding out late in life that he had Asberger's Syndrome all along. Or, as Augusten puts it, "Ass Burgers" An Al-Anon friend lent me the last 3, and advised me to save "Look Me in The Eye" for dessert. So that one's up next! :-)

  15. I hate to admit it but I have nothing i am reading at the moment. Though I have a TBR pile I just haven't felt like tuning into it yet. Last year was full of new novelists and 19th century literature, including War and peace which I didn't find a bore at all...long yes but not dull if you like that era and non brief style of writing.

  16. I'm reading a great book now - The Anti Cancer Life. It's a fascinating read about how lifestyle impacts our bodies and how we can use our natural immunity to help fight cancer. The part that I am most interested in is the section on the "Anti Cancer Mind". It parallels the AA/Al-Anon mindset.

    The auther wrote another book called Not The Last Goodbye that I plan on reading next. It's about death and dying and embracing it gracefully.

  17. I grew up an avid reader and "escapist" myself... I love the writings of JRR Tolkein and other fantasty stuff. These days I am more taken with my craft of marketing and sales, so much of my reading involves those topics. I am presently reading "The Thank-You Economy" by Gary Vaynerchuk.

    I read Scripture and recovery literature as well ass several blogs on a daily basis.

  18. You have some good reads ahead! I would also like to mention something about "Blue Nights," Dideon's book about the death of her daughter. There is a lot of chatter on the InterWeb that her daughter, Quintana Roo, died of alcoholism. Not mentioned in the book. I'm just sayin'


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.