Books of January 2012

I’ve overall been extremely slow with book reviews on this blog, the basic reason being that I never get around to listing and reviewing all the books I read. So, my new (hopefully consistent) project is to keep a constant list of all books I read, with a shorter review along with them. Seeing as I want to give the books some time to sink in, I’ll start with January’s books this month and then list February’s next month.

  • Carl Sagan: “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” (1997)
    • A celebrated book deserving its celebration, one of the absolute best – if not the best – introductory books to scientific philosophy and skepticism for both the lay person and the academic. Sagan’s final book before his death is not only a book for debunking pseudo-scientific claims (if that’s your goal, there are much better books and web sites). It is a testament both to critical thinking and to the human species and the cosmos. Sagan postulates that science is not just a nice thing to have around for the practical technology it creates, but it is absolutely vital for our continuing survival as a species, a candle in the dark, flickering and trembling before the darkness of superstition.
    • (A longer review can be found here)
  • Gold, Guthrie, Wank: “Social Connections in China: Institutions, Culture, and the Changing Nature of Guanxi” (2002)
    • This seems to be the best collection of thoughts on the sociological phenomenon of guanxi (关系) so far. With eleven distinguished researchers writing on their own specialities, the book defines guanxi and its many aspects as well as any book can in 300 pages.
    • (A longer analysis in Swedish can be found here)
  • Simon Singh: ”Fermat’s Last Theorem” (1997) [in Swedish translation: ”Fermats gåta”]
    • A fascinating discussion of an on first sight mundane and boring topic. Singh goes through the history and the solution to Fermat’s famous last mathematical theorem, bringing forth both fascinating characters and the discoveries of science.

 

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