One day. Legal holiday. Back in my youth this wouldn’t be so but evidently things are so bad that the proles and serfs need all the slack they can get.
Second day of fog. Most enjoyable. I sit and look at how the light gets dispersed and try to figure out the phase function and from that the distribution of particle size. Loads of fun and lots better than what the poets talk about.
Ran across an article [Link] on LifeHacker entitled “10 Books You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Really Read Them).” It rather bemused me. First of all I have not claimed to have read a book that I hadn’t read since I was in high schule. And then I did read one of those synopsis books. That was because it was an assigned book, usually from “English” class, and hideously unreadable.
So I was moved to comment on the list, which is rather strange, partly in what’s on the list but mostly what isn’t.
1) Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
I admit I haven’t read this book. In fact, I don’t remember the author and have no memory of ever having heard of the book.
2) Dune by Frank Herbert
Read this one when it first came out. Horrible. At least in comparison to Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” which came out the same year but superior to the first Tolkien book which was also popular that year. Probably indicates I have a great distaste for fantasy. Technically, I can’t even call this science fiction; Herbert has too strong a mystical streak. Some of his other stuff is much better.
3) Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
I actually read it. Also horrible. And if there was any humor in the book it eluded me.
4) Foundation by Isaac Asimov
Read this five or six times. Masterpiece. Of course by itself it’s an incomplete story. You have to read all the Foundation books.
5) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Another one I have never heard of.
6) 1984 by George Orwell
Read this one. Overlong for the story. Very British. And it wasn’t even assigned in a course.
7) Last and First Men and Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon
I read them and didn’t like. Discovered Stapledon wasn’t for me. A bit too much “Golden Age.”
8) The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Passable. Some of her other works much better.
9) Dhalgren by Samuel Delany
Superb. Wonderful. A juvenile for adults.
10) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Another one I haven’t heard of by an unknown author.
About half of these are by unknown (to me) authors, and several of the rest are almost orthogonal authors. Why no Heinlein or Anderson? Is the list deliberately chosen to be of lesser authors? I don;t know who built the list but they are definitely suspect.