Those legions of readers who eagerly await my book reviews have been frustrated by the absence of any entries for a long time. You are both going to have to learn patience. It’s not that I have stopped reading; I have instead stopped writing book reviews, largely because I’m finishing fewer of the books I start to read. The problem is simple: since I already know everything there is to know, I find little of interest in new books.
Well, OK, maybe I don’t already know everything there is to know, but I am finding it difficult to read a book that doesn’t spend a lot of time going over ground I’m already familiar with. Sure, there are zillions of books about topics I don’t know anything about, but most of these books cover fields that don’t much interest me, like creole cooking or the latest accounting methodologies.
I therefore decided that it might be worthwhile to go back and re-read some of my old favorite books. I have over 2,000 books in my personal library, and some of my favorites I read decades ago. So I pulled some of them out and tried them again.
The experience is intellectually bracing. What you get out of a book depends heavily on the education you bring to it, and so books that I read decades ago feel fresh and new when I re-read them with my much expanded knowledge.
Here are some of the books I have been re-reading:
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. A great general introduction to all aspects of linguistics
The Structures of Everyday Life
The Wheels of Commerce
The Perspective of the World. These three books describe the rise of capitalism in the 15th-18th centuries
On the Shoulders of Giants. Complete translations of the great works of science: Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton
I’m learning a lot from these.