Posts Tagged ‘animals’

7. “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void,” Mary Roach

December 24, 2010 1 comment

Mary Roach looks at the history of the US (and Russia’s) space program to feel out the feasibility of a future peopled mission to Mars.

This is the sort of thing Mary Roach does well: exhaustive Googling paired with access to important people and a willingness to ask questions that embarrass both of them. Poop factoids abound and it is a fun and quick read.

Note to self: Read Mike Mullane’s biography. Apparently he is one of the astronauts most willing to make a good poop joke.

Page count: 321
Page total: 1,865


54. “A Fish Caught in Time,” Samantha Weinberg

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

A quick and very readable history of the re-discovery of the coelacanth, a fish more than 80 million years old and which was believed until 1938 to be extinct.

Weinberg tells the story of the coelacanth through the people who become obsessed with finding it, entwining their lives and their search. I think I caught coelacanth fever, because I keep finding myself fantasizing about how fucking amazing it would be to catch a living fossil, something people believed no longer existed, and something people still hope can tell us more about the moment we climbed from the deep.

Page count: 226
Page total: 14,602
Call number: QL638.L26 W45 2001x

36. “Galapagos,” Kurt Vonnegut

May 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Told by Leon Trotsky Trout, a million-odd year-old-ghost, this is the story about the near-end of humanity, evolution, and the danger of our great big brains (which always seem to be up to no good). This is standard Vonnegut fare: a first person omniscient narrator, jumbled timeline, paranoia about technical advances, and a loving critique of humanity.

A couple quotes:

And I pity him, because I can still remember what I was like when I was sixteen. It was hell to be that excited. Then as now, orgasms give no relief. Ten minutes after an orgasm, guess what? Nothing would do but that you have another one. And there was homework besides!

Which reminds me of an “Arrested Development” quote:

GOB: I’d give anything to be eight.
GEORGE MICHAEL: I’m thirteen.
GOB: No, I wasn’t crazy about thirteen: the acne. The self-conciousness. The erections.

Back to “Galapagos”:

That was another thing people used to be able to do, which they can’t do anymore: enjoy in their heads events which hadn’t happened yet and which might never occur. My mother was good at that. Someday my father [Kilgore Trout] would stop writing science fiction, and write something a whole lot of people wanted to read instead. And we would get a new house in a beautiful city, and nice clothes, and so on. She used to make me wonder why G-d had ever gone to the trouble of creating reality.

Page count: 295
Page total: 17,211

34. “The Old Man and the Sea,” Ernest Hemingway

May 19, 2009 1 comment

Well. That about broke my heart. I can’t believe my father recommended this to my (extremely empathetic) younger sister.

Page count: 127
Page total: 16,572

19. “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, L. Frank Baum

February 20, 2009 1 comment

Hey look, I finally did some required reading. It was a good run I had going there.

Anyway, we’re all familiar with the movie and the book is pretty similar in feeling, though the events are different. The illustrations (which are the original ones by W.W. Denslow) freak me out a little. I kept looking for racialized subtext, a la Roald Dahl’s first version of the Oompa Loompas.

Pages: 240
Total: 13,086
Currently reading: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity; and The Secret Garden

7. “Next”, Michael Crichton

December 12, 2008 Leave a comment

There are about seven plot lines in this book and Michael Crichton pulls them all together! It is a triumph. Problem is, it takes him about 475 pages to start doing it.

Page count: 528 Total: 2521

4. “Congo”, Michael Crichton

December 3, 2008 Leave a comment

I re-read this just after Michael Crichton died, and the next day I went to the zoo with my students. Yes, I did try to talk to the gorillas. They were not having it and one of them ate her poo instead.

Page count: 313