I am now reading six books at once, and although I know plenty of people read that many at once and more, I can’t help but feel that my reading is getting a bit out of control. Six is a lot for me, and I have a couple books I need to get to soon for book groups, so the number may go up.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Emily promised to leave some books on the nightstand for me to look into while I was there, and I ended up bringing two of them home, in spite of the fact that I need no more books whatsoever (and she calls me a pusher!). One of them is Keith Devlin’s The Math Gene, the first couple chapters of which I’ve now read. I keep talking about how I want to read more about math and science and yet I haven’t done much of it, so it’s high time I got to a book like this. So far it has discussed the definition of mathematics and its relationship to arithmetic; the factors that go into possessing mathematical ability, such as number sense, numerical ability, and algorithmic ability; and the extent to which animals and babies have a sense of numbers. If phrases like “algorithmic ability” sound frightening, I can assure you that Devlin is a very clear writer with a knack for explaining things. Eventually he’s going to get to an argument about how math is like language, and I’m looking forward to learning about it.
I am also borrowing Virginia Rowans’s 1956 novel The Loving Couple, written under a pseudonym by Patrick Dennis, the same guy who wrote Auntie Mame. It’s a fun novel, set in the New York City area and telling the story of a young couple whose marriage is falling apart. What’s interesting about it is the way it’s told in two parts; one half of the book is from the woman’s perspective and the other is from the man’s. The book itself is in two parts, with one cover devoted to her and one to him, one story starting in the usual way and proceeding until the middle of the book, at which point you have to flip the book over and start at the other end. It’s impossible to tell which side you are supposed to start with — you just have to pick one arbitrarily. I started with the woman’s perspective and finished it this morning; now the story will start over again from the beginning, but this time from the man’s point of view. It will be interesting to get his take on things.
I wonder if, when picking up this book, most people begin with their own gender as I did, or if people are just as likely to begin with the opposite gender. That would be an interesting thing to know, wouldn’t it?
The book is highly entertaining, even if it is dated and not masterfully written. It’s a good light read, and I always enjoy reading about NYC and its environs — there’s a lot going on here with the tension between the city and the suburbs.
I’ll just have to tell myself there’s no rush to finish all these books; it’s only when I start to want to finish something that reading many things at once begins to feel like a burden.