Saturday, July 09, 2005

Books I have started, but haven't finished... and why

This is certainly not a list of ALL the books I have started and not finished. Indeed, there would not be enough room to list all of those (and, for most of them the answer to "why?" would be "because it was boring.") No, this is merely the list of started-but-not-finished books currently sitting on my desk, most with their own curled up book mark!

Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman
(Have read about 45 of 138 pages)
Richard Feynman was a downright genius, and was hilariously funny. I recommend his book "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" to anyone (maybe I will have to review that one some time.) But Six Easy Pieces is, as the back cover says, "an unparalleled introduction to the world of physics by one of the greatest teachers of all time." I found his explanation of electromagnetic phenomena both interesting and easy to understand. I don't know why I stopped reading this book, but I know why I started. I have taken three formal physics classes, and I found myself utterly confused in every single one. As a result, I still do not understand even the most fundamental concepts in physics, and I want to. So, I got this book. Very likely that I will finish it. Whether I will brave the sequel Six Not so Easy Pieces, remains to be seen.

Brining Up Boys by James Dobson
(Have read about 20 of 257 pages.)
Aye, aye, aye. It took everything I had to get through those 20 pages. After those 20, he still hadn't started saying anything. I didn't even find the letters from girls about why girls are better than boys (an vice versa) remotely interesting or even cute. As I read, I found that his writing style annoys me for the same reason that I don't like listening to him on the radio - he doesn't get to the point fast enough for me. Now, don't start sending me hate mail, dear Christian friends. I know there are plenty of people out there who think he can do/say no wrong. And, while I'm not one of them, I do think that Dr. Dobson is a wise man, and that a good deal of his advice is beneficial. That is why I WANT to read the book. But MAN, is he making it hard on me. I don't know if I will get through this one... I will keep you posted.

In Search of Schrodinger's Cat by John Gribbin
(Have read 105 of 275 pages.)
Okay, remember how I said that I was always confused in physics class? Well, this became a problem when I took physical chemistry my junior year (hands down, the most difficult class I have ever had.) Not understanding physics is a bit of a problem in a class like p-chem. The bad thing about this is that p-chem is where you cover some seriously interesting concepts like thermodynamics (I LOVE that stuff) and quantum mechanics. I started reading this book because it was supposed to be an explanation of quantum theory for the masses. I figured my pitiful knowledge of physics would require such a non-technical approach. And let me just say, this book is so completely and utterly interesting! Gribben gives great historical detail about the evolution of atomic theory, which I totally eat up. And the material about quantum theory is confounding and shocking and mind-bending. I love it! So, why didn't I finish it? Because it hurts my head! The material Gribben presents is cumulative in every way. So, I found that I was having to go back and re-read stuff just to get myself through the next paragraph. I guess I just didn't have enough time to read AND comprehend it all. Geez, oh PETE, this book is fascinating, though. One of these days I will get through it.

Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall
(Have read 43 of 384 pages.)
In all fairness, this book hasn't been around my house nearly as long as the others on this list. And I really WANT to read this book, in a have to sort of way. Folks in the adoption community (at least the ones who think that valuing my daughter's culture and heritage will mean more than just eating Chinese food) have highly recommended this book. Admittedly, some of my beefs about this book are dumb. But here they are. First, there are far too freiking many headings. (This is a problem because I tend not to read headings, I don't know why...but then I get confused, because suddenly the topic has changed...duh!) There will be a heading, followed by one short paragraph, and then another heading. On one set of facing pages, there are actually 5 headings! It drives me bonkers. Second, there are some things in there that aren't news to me, and I get annoyed having to read stuff I already know . Third, there are sections about things that I am not really concerned about, and don't feel like reading (like "Are organized hate groups a threat to our families?" Not that it would be such a big deal for me to read the ONE paragraph that follows that heading... but I digress.) Anyway, I think this is a really important issue for my family. Important enough that I certainly see myself picking up this book again. But, when I do, I think I'd like to use the headings to scan the book and read what interests me. Of course with headings like "Don't turn into a psychological dentist," this may be difficult. Oye.

Darwin's Black Box by Michael Behe
(Have read 81 of 292 pages)
I am going to make a serious statement that lots of people are going to think is stupid or ignorant or delusional, but not necessarily surprising to anyone who knows me. Here it is: I think that the scientific topic that has deluded more people than any other is the Theory of Evolution. Spare me your rants, everyone. And yes, I think a lot of scientists are deluded about it too. (I think it mirrors the way that physicists and chemists of the modern era were loathe to "change their minds" about atomic structure - despite evidence to support the quantum mechanical model of the atom - because their current understanding "worked" to explain experimental results. But, maybe this is a topic for another post.) I wanted to read this book because it gives the biochemical evidence/explanation of why evolution (of one species from another) is not possible. I also wanted to read some good scientific information from someone who isn't a creationist, but discounts evolution just the same. Behe makes his points early on, and does so very convincingly. I got "stuck" in his presentation of the examples that illustrate his point. They are, obvioulsy, biochemical explanations of the systems of different creatures which have been used by evolutionists to support their claims. But, I get his point, and the biology part is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO boring. (And, at this time, I must digress by saying that I can't stand it when people say things like "You'll like it. It's all about science." Well, not all science is the same, and handing someone like me a book about biology is like handing a journalist a book about writing haiku and saying "You'll love it. It's all about writing." AAAAAAAAARGH!) But ANYWAY, I am stuck. I might just skip over the examples and read the rest of the book. (And one of these days, I'd like to flesh out this parallel between the evolution of atomic theory and the evolution of "Evolutionary thought.")

And this concludes my little foray back into the blogging world. I don't know when I will be back. But I have had a few things "rattling around" lately, so maybe some time soon... if I feel like it.