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« January, 2011 »
The Calculus Diaries

This book helps you understand calculus. Rather it probably helps you understand why you don’t already know calculus. Ouellette has an approachable likeable tone and uses a lot of interesting contemporary examples to help you understand things like derivatives and integrals and why you might care to even know this stuff. She delves into a lot of interesting math history and really works hard to make examples that are real-world and relevant, using such locations as Disneyland, a surfing beach in Hawaii and Las Vegas.

That said, I still don’t know calculus and I think it’s not her fault. The book, while upbeat and “you can do it” in tone is also sort of a popular approach to the work and so is sometimes jokey when maybe it should be more explanatory. Ouellette’s husband is a physicist and she admits herself that she was not the most eager of math students herself. So there’s a camraderie aspect that didn’t resonate with me [probably because I am a grouch] and every time they went to a new fancy location to illustrate some principle or another, I’d jadedly think “Oh I guess that vacation is a tax writeoff then.” Most people who are not grouches will enjoy this book.

Silent on the Moor

This is the last in a trilogy of pretty interesting Victorian-era mysteries. The covers make them look a bit like bodice-rippers but they’re really pretty tame as far as that sort of thing goes. I enjoyed the period attention to costumes and locations and the endless analysis of what and what wasn’t “proper” for the times as well as the strong female leads. The stories both wrap up tidily and also leave room for more exploration of the characters so readers can feel a sense of closure but also look forward to more books.

The Underground House Book

This book was written in a time when oil was getting mroe expensive and people believed that lifestyle changes such as underground living were the only way they were going to be able to surivive. With this in mind Stu Campbell starts researching what it takes to build an underground house. This book is part research, part boosterism and part hippie fantasy [complete with photos of cozy underground bunkers]. The last chapter of a book has Campbell excitedly preparing to build the underground house of his dreams in collaboration with noted designer Don Metz.

I was curious whether Campbell really did live out his dream and was both happy and sad to see that he and his wife lived in a “radically earth-bermed house” in Stowe for almost thirty years until his death in 2008. Nice work.

Silent in the Sanctuary

Somehow I read this and forgot to write it down. It was good. I just got the third one and was trying to figure out if I’d already read it. This is a placeholder for the second book which I read sometime last year.

All Fall down

A student gave me this book when I told her I liked mysteries. I have no idea why the cover has dominoes on it or what the title is about. I enjoyed it, but it seemed to hit all the hot-button issues: sexual abuse, kink, lebianism, lady cops, sisterhood, a bunch of others. It was fine, I wasn’t unhappy that I read it, but sort of made me appreciate the regular authors I enjoy more than I already do.