Category Archives: Books

Book Mooching

I recently signed up to BookMooch which is a little community site whose goal is to enable you to “give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want”. You can read more about the site, its goals and activities for yourself.
Essentially you use the service as a means to advertise books that you don’t want any more. People can then “mooch” them from your list, and you pop it into the post to them. Similarly you can browse books offered by others, and ask them to send their unwanted copy to you. Every time you send a book you score a point. Every time you mooch a book you spend a point. So you’re encouraged to share books in order to be able to receive them.
There’s a bit more to the point system which offers further rewards for being a good community member, and encourage you to advertise more books, but that’s the process in a nutshell. And the process seems to work very well. For the price of postage (about

Judging Books by Their Covers

Geoff has written up a nice article about what he’s dubbed Early Social Bookmarking: cues he used to help him choose/select books from his school library.
I used to use a cue to help me find books too. But in my case there wasn’t a social element it was a simple visual cue. The technique was simple, and went like this: I would walk to the middle of the small portakabin that served as the local library in Dawley, and then slowly turn around and look at all the shelves from a distance. What I was looking for was books with yellow jackets.
Victor Gollancz published a lot of excellent novels including (and most importantly to me then), a lot of science fiction. All of their books had trademark yellow dust covers and so they easily stood out from others on the shelves.
Having found some candidate yellow books I simply strode across the room to take a closer look. Rinse and repeat.
So yes, I really did judge books by their covers. And very well it worked too.

The Library of Unwritten Books

I just saw a piece about The Library of Unwritten Books in the Book Show on BBC 4. Couldn’t resist digging up more information.
This BBC News story “The art of not writing books” is a good introduction, with some more details here.
Such a cool idea. Hope the books get collected into a published anthology as I doubt I’ll make it to any of the events. Or would having them be published defeat the idea?
Love the book boxes too.

We’re All Harmonies

Attempting to bring the teetering pile of books in my “to read” pile under control I’ve banned myself from Waterstones and the local library so I don’t get tempted to buy any others. So far it’s been mostly successful: I’ve strayed in, but not actually bought anything.
In typically anal retentive fashion I’ve adopted a strategy for working through the book list. I could have used date of purchase or alphabetic order to organize my reading list, but instead have sorting them by category. So at the moment I’m working through all the physics books whilst absorbing the occasional novel as light-relief.
I’ve already read Flatland, Flatterland, Information, and am currently working through Hyperspace, with the Elegant Universe next and last on the list.
So I now understand more about multiple dimensions, string theory and quantum physics than I ever did before. Which means that I’m still hopeless lost, especially when the current interpretation of quantum physics may be crumbling. Still, fun and intriguing stuff.
The purpose of this post though was to note what it is that I find so fascinating about string theory: if all of space-time can be reduced to the vibrations of 10 dimensional string (or maybe 26 depending on which theory you subscribe to) then that means we’re all just harmonics. A melody within the greater score that is the world around us.
And what really gives the romantic in me a nice fuzzy feeling is the thought that my children are new harmonics, new melodies that have unfolded from the overture of their parents.
So the saying is true, we really can make beautiful music together.

The Fifth Sentence

Passing on a meme I caught from Norman Walsh. The fifth sentence on page 23 of The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson is:

But while Lord Finkle-McGraw was not the sort to express feelings promiscuously, he gave the impression of being nearly satisfied with the way the conversation was going.

This isn’t the book I’m reading, that’s Foucault’s Pendulum, this was just on my desk in work as I’ve recently lent it to a colleague.

My Light Cone

I just noticed on Interconnected that Matt Web has created a little utility to generate your own personal light cone as an RSS feed.

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The Man Who Loved Only Numbers

I enjoyed reading Mark’s infinite hotel posting today. I’ve recently finished reading “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers”, a biography (actually more of an oral history) of the mathematician Paul Erdös.

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Canterbury Tales

The BBC have just started a series of modern adaptations of Chaucers Canterbury Tales. I’ve just finished watching the first of these, The Millers Tale, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Funny and bawdy; what more can you ask?
If, like me, you’ve never read the original poems then you may be interested to know that the Gutenberg project has the full text available complete with footnotes. Something different to read on my next train journey.

Book Of Pages

A few weeks ago the Dodds family joined Bath library (or re-joined in my case). Ethan loves reading so it was an opportunity to introduce him to the delights of the public library as well as an opportunity for Debs and I to save some money; if we enter Waterstones we buy books, end of story.
As we expected, Ethan loved it. The kiddies section is well-stocked, complete with giant teddy bear at the entrance and a big toy train inside which they can sit in. It’s carriages are loaded with books.
I love it too, especially as I’ve discovered that in the “teenagers” section they’ve got a bunch of graphic novels. Allows me to get my fix of comic book fun without incurring the financial overheads. So far I’ve read Superman: No Limits (pretty good), Clerks – The Comic Books (Hillarious), and The Book of Pages which is an absolute gem.

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Reading To Some Purpose

…and that purpose is “Keep Leigh Away From The Computer”. Getting a bit fed up with programming and web surfing recently, so I decided it was time to pick up my reading habit once more.
Here’s where my paper-surfing has been taking me. In case you’re interested.

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