asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Bed and Bookshelf

I've finally acquired a decent bed: inexpensive, sturdy, practical, firm (I like firm), the right height, and - very important - wide enough to pile books on and still leave room for me. In other words, perfect for reading in bed.

"Reading in bed" is a luxury I haven't indulged in for a while, and I mean to start correcting that. Sure, you can read sitting in a chair or lounging on a couch, but when you're lying comfortably in bed you've got no distractions. All the other sensory input is muted, and your eyes and brain can focus on the page.

So now I've finally got a suitable environment to properly read all those tons of books sitting on shelves and in boxes waiting to be read. Here are some of the ones I'm working on now:

Arthur Koestler. Koestler accounts for several of the books in the large collection I inherited from my mother. Among them is The Act of Creation, Koestler's exploration of the creative process. I'm now in the first section, dealing with the nature of humor. Koestler coins the term "bisociation" to describe an idea that joins together two habitually incompatible frames of reference - arousing that flash of insight that leads to laughter.

Three books about Jewish Iraq. I am re-reading When the Grey Beetles Took Over Baghdad, Mona Yahia's autobiographical novel of her escape from Ba'athist Iraq, along with Memories of Eden, Violette Shamash's memoir of Jewish life in Baghdad throughout the 20th Century; and Unwitting Zionists by Haya Gavish, a study of the Jewish community in Zakho, in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan.

Linear algebra. David C. Lay (4th edition) is the book I used in school, and I'm using it for review, along with David Poole (2nd ed.). I like Poole because he emphasizes graphical interpretations in R2 and R3, which makes the material more intuitive for me. My big struggle with Lin Alg was dealing with a lot of jargon and very abstract ideas, so anything that makes it more concrete helps.

Swahili. I'm hoping to master enough of the language to be able to use it the next time I visit East Africa, whenever that may be. (Swahili isn't widely spoken in Uganda, but it is in Kenya and elsewhere.) The Living Language Swahili course is a nice balance of theory and practice, presenting grammatical concepts (noun classes, verb tenses, etc.) in systematic fashion as they come up.

So that's what's on my "to read" shelf. I'm optimistic about the prospects of getting steady work in the near future, so I'll have a somewhat stable schedule and enough income that I can relax and read.
Tags: books

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