Elizabeth Smither — The Mathematics of Jane Austen

It was probably the title that enticed me to buy this collection of understated short stories. The title story is about a woman trying to write a thesis on the use of mathematical concepts in the writings of Jane Austen. It’s clever, amusing and likeable. I enjoyed reading the stories, which made a relaxing contrast to the harrowing writing of Lucia Berlin or Miranda July.

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One Hundred Prisoners and a Light Bulb — van Ditmarsch & Kooi

You and two other logicians (Alice and Bob) are in a room. A controller comes in and paints a spot onto each of your foreheads. You can each see the others’ spots (Alice and Bob both have black spots) but … Continue reading

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The Ring of the Nibelungen — P. Craig Russell; Rudolf Sabor

I’ve heard of comic operas, but here is a comic based on an opera. My children have some books illustrated by P. Craig Russell, so I was excited to find that he has produced a comic book adaptation of Richard … Continue reading

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The Mind-Body Problem — Rebecca Goldstein

If you don’t already know a lot about the history of philosophy, you will by the time you’ve finished this book. If you do, then you’ll recognise a lot of it. Like Goldstein’s more recent 36 Arguments for the Existence … Continue reading

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On What Matters — Derek Parfit

How should we live? And why does it matter? This book is just amazing. In its two massive volumes, Derek Parfit lays out a very detailed and very carefully argued ethical framework. It’s like a prodigiously sustained deep dive into … Continue reading

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The Long Earth — Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter

Like a lot of great SF, this starts with just one single premise. What if we suddenly discovered an unlimited number of pristine Earths, and we could all travel between them at the flick of a switch? One day, a … Continue reading

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“Some of my moments of deepest…

“Some of my moments of deepest self-satisfaction have been brought on by the perfection of my parallel parking.”
— Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem

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Meg

Meg is the Italian Björk. And if you think that’s glib, try this: Meg would be the result if Björk joined Fever Ray and they went clubbing in Naples. Glib, yes, but maybe on the right track. Of course there … Continue reading

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“Scared is scared of all the things you…

“Scared is scared of all the things you like”: A Six-Year-Old’s Advice on Life and Overcoming Fear, Turned into a Heartwarming Movie www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/20/bianca-giaever-th… via @brainpicker #fb

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A Selfie as Big as the Ritz — Lara Williams

I loved this book of short stories even though most of them don’t end especially happily. The stories are written in a variety of voices, but almost all concern young women navigating problematic relationships. (Some of the women are older; … Continue reading

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