Thursday, June 2, 2016

America's Bank- The Epic Struggle to Create The Federal Reserve by Roger Lowenstein (2015, ISBN 978-1-59420-549-1)
This book presents a description of the political process that resulted in the Federal Reserve. Some of the history of the older attempts to create a US central bank are described as well as why a central bank is needed.
Received as a Christmas present 2015.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Beautiful Geometry by Eli Maor and Eugen Jost. (2014, ISBN 978-0-691-15099-4.)
51 chapters of interesting mathematics. Each chapter contains one mathematical idea or theorem. Each chapter also contains one or more drawing(s) that illustrate the idea or theorem.
Purchased from Amazon on 1-19-2014, for $20.79

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cosmos by Carl Sagan. (1980, ISBN 0-394-50294-9) Based on the the 13-part TV series of the same name. That TV series was recently updated with a newer version with Neil deGrasse Tyson. A great book. Contains a lot of interesting stuff, a bit out of date in terms of space exploration (a lot has happened since it was written in 1980.) Still worth reading ( you can find used copies very cheap on Amazon.) I got my copy back in the 1980s.
Contains a proof that the square root of 2 is irrational. Discusses the Googol and the Googolplex. This book contains much information about science and the history of the world, etc.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Universe Within by Neil Shubin (2013, ISBN 978-0-307-47327-1)
Subtitle: The deep history of the human body.
An exploration of human anatomy and how it relates to the evolution of the universe. Another great science book.
Purchased at Powell's 15.95$
Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, (2009, ISBN 978-0-307-27745-9)
Subtitle: A journey into the 3.5 billion year history of the human body.
About human anatomy and human evolution. The author is a paleontologist and professor of anatomy. Great science writing, easy to read and very informative.
Purchased at Powell's 16.00$

Monday, November 3, 2014

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. 1976 Folio Press (BOMC edition.) ISBN 978-0850671063. The story of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, Marius, Javert and many many more characters. A very complex story of hardship, sadness and happiness.
I found this translation very readable. This is a deluxe printing which I got from the Book Of The Month Club, probably back in the late 1970s.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

squirrel seeks chipmunk by David Sedaris. 2010, ISBN 978-0-316-03839-3.
A collection of short stories. All of the characters are animals, playing human roles.
Purchased at Powells 2014-01-14 for $7.98.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

 The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil. This book was the companion to a TV series that was shown on the American TV network PBS in the 1980s.
I really like this show and so I bought the book, in fact I have three editions of the book ISBN 0-670-80467-3 , ISBN 0-14-009435-0 and ISBN 0-14-015405-1.
I especially liked the early history of English.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Story of Mathematics by Richard Mankiewicz (2000, ISBN 0-691-08808-X)
This is a history of mathematics. It is a high level summary, probably intended for people who are not mathematics or science oriented, but are interested in learning some of the history. The book does not cover any of the details of the areas it discusses. There are lots of interesting pictures and quotes.
Purchased  2001-7-20.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. 2004, ISBN 0-618-00583-8.
This is a fantastic book. I loved reading it. (The entry on wikipedia contains a lot of information about the book.) Highly recommended for those interested in learning something about how various living things are related. Since this is a non-fiction science book, information contained in it will change a bit as new discoveries are made, still much of the information is well establish, so this book should be a good introduction to evolution for the layman for many years to come.
Purchased new from the PSU bookstore on 2-23-2005 for $28.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien 1937, ISBN 0-395-17711-1 and 01532. A fantasy novel about a world inhabited by various humanoid creatures called Hobbits, Dwarves, Wizards, Elves, Goblins, Dragons, etc. Very entertaining and very popular. This is the third time I have read this book. Twice I read the paperback shown (01532 Ballantine Books) and once the hardback slipcase edition. The paperback was purchased back in 1971 or 1972 for 95 cents. The hardback was purchased on 2002-1-2 from Borders Books for $35.00.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In Pursuit of the Unknown by Ian Stewart, 2012, ISBN 978-0-465-02973-0. Subtitle: 17 Equations That Changed the World. This book has a label on the back the says Mathematics, but I think it should be labelled Physics, etc. It is really more about the subjects of the equations than the mathematics. Subjects discusses include Pythagora's Theorem, Logarithms, Calculus, Newton's Law of Gravity, Square Root of Minus One, Euler's Formula for Polyhedra, Normal Distribution, Wave Equation, Fourier Transform, Navier-Stokes Equation, Maxwell's Equations, Second Law of Thermodynamics, Relativity, Schrodingers Equation, Information Theory, Chaos Theory and Black-Scholes Equation.
If you are interested in how mathematics is used in the real world, I think this is a good introduction. It is well written, informative and I think entertaining. Sadly there is no list of books for further reading.
 Purchased from Amazon on 2013-3-7 for $20.51.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952, Y3814 Signet)

I think a lot of people read this book when they were in school, but I was never assigned to read it. I bought a copy years ago, but just got around to reading it. I used to think that this was non-fiction for some reason, but of course it is a novel.

The story is about the experience of a black man growing up in the south and then moving to NYC.

Probably purchased at Powell's Books, date unknown, price $2. This book was a discard from a school library.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Glorious Golden Ratio by Alfred S. Posamentier.  2012, ISBN 978-1-61614-423-4. If you are interested in Mathematics then you'll love this book. The golden ratio is a number which occurs in geometry over and over again. The golden ratio is also related to the Fibonacci and Lucas numbers. This book discusses how to construct the golden ratio, how it has been used in the past and gives many examples of it in geometry. Purchased at Powells books, on 1-21-2012, for $27.00.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. 2000, ISBN 0-14-200027-2. This translation is by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Written by Tolstoy in Russian from 1873 to 1877.
I have three other translations of this book (Magarshack, Carmichael and Edmonds.) I think I read it once when I was in high school and again in college. This book is considered by some to be the greatest novel ever written, while that seems a bit much, it can be said that it is a very good novel and well worth the time it takes to read. At over 800 pages it is a challenge for the modern reader. I am glad that I re-read it. The story is about Anna and her dive into destruction, but also about Levin who maybe discovers the meaning of life. The two characters are Russian aristocrats who live in a world of privilege. I think Anna and Levin only meet once during the novel, but they know each other and have many friends in common.  
Purchased from Powell's books 2002-1-22, for $16.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sefer HaChinuch / Book of Mitzvos, Volume 1, Mitzvos 1 - 65. 2012, ISBN 978-1-4226-1189-0.
This is a multi-volume English elucidation of a 700 year old classic of Torah scholarship. The Torah is described by the Jews as having 613 Mitzvos. A Mitzvos is an obligation or prohibition. The familiar 10 commandments are included in these Mitzvos. The author of this book is unknown, however he is thought to have been a disciple of Ramban. There are many references in the book to Rambam. Interestingly, there is not complete agreement on what are the 613 Mitzvos. This book details some of the confusion regarding this situation. Also, the way these Mitzvos are understood by the Jews can be surprising. For example, Exodus 20:13 (20:15 in King James) says "You shall not steal." This is described in this book (Mitzvah 36) as a Prohibition against Kidnaping. This book contains the Hebrew text and enhanced English translation with notes and insights. Purchased from Artscroll  3-1-2012, for $27.44.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fallen Angels by Harold Bloom. 2007, 978-0-300-12348-7.
The concept of fallen angel as discussed in this book is different than the usual as given by the above link. Bloom here describes a theory that all humans can be viewed as fallen angels. Interesting book. Purchased September 2012 from Cameron's Books for $5.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Joseph Smith by Robert V. Remini. 2002, ISBN 0-670-03083-X.
This is a biography of Joseph Smith, jr. who was the founder of the LDS movement (Mormons.) The book is well written and I enjoyed reading it. Seems to be objective without being pro or con concerning the veracity  of Joseph Smith claims or those of his dis-tractors.
Purchased from Powells on 6-3-2012 for $7.95.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. From the book The Complete Pelican Shakespeare. (1969, ISBN 0-670-77076-0.) Shakespeare is fun to read, but hard because the language is so complex. This play is about two pairs of twins that are separated when babies and grow up in different cities. Then as adults they meet but not until after a lot of confusion of idenity, etc.
This a book I purchased a long time ago at PSU bookstore for $16.95.

2012-08-17, Taming of the Shrew 
2012-09-17, Two Gentlemen of Verona
You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh (2009, ISBN 978-1-59030-675-8) This a book about Buddhism. Specifically it is about living in the present moment.  This is achieved through breathing meditation. "Breathing in. I know I am breathing in" and "Breathing out. I know I am breathing out." The book discusses this breathing meditation but does not contain much about the basic of buddhism. It is primarily a discussion about the benefits of living in the present.
Purchased from amazon, 9-11-2009, for $13.57.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Book of Mormon, A Biography by Paul C. Gutjahr. 2012, ISBN 978-0-691-14480-1.
This book is about the Book of Mormon. It contains a disscussion about how the book was created and its effect on American culture, during its 180 year history. The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the LDS church. It is not regarded as sacred by any other religion.
Purchased at Powell's Books for 17.50 on 6-3-2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Romania, An Illustrated History by Nicolae Klepper. 2002, ISBN 978-0-7818-0935-1.
This book provides a concise history of the area now known as Romania from pre-history to just after 2000. For me the most interesting parts were the early chapters (1-7) that covered the ancient and medieval history. From the book it seems clear that Romania has had a long history of struggling with more powerful neighbors from the Greeks and Romans to the Ottomans and the Austro-Hungarians and Russians.
Purchased at Powells books, 6-3-2012, 16.95.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Pythagorean Theorem by Alfred S. Posamentier.  2010, ISBN 978-1-61614-181-3. Subtitled: The Story of Its Power and Beauty.
The cover shows a "Pythagorean Tree" constructed from layers of Pythagorean triangles with squares on their sides. (Discussed in chapter 7.) This book is similar to the book by Eli Maor, but covers topics not discussed in that other book. Both books are worth reading.
Purchased from, 10-5-2010, for $19.71.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

 The Divine Comedy - Paradise by Dante, translated by Dorothy Sayers and Barbara Reynolds. 1962, ISBN 0140441050.
The Divine Comedy - Paradise by Dante translated by Charles Eliot Norton. 1892, PDF from
This is the third and final volume in Dante's poetic description of a journey through the three realms of the afterlife. In this volume Dante enters paradise, the heavens of crystalline spheres that surround the earth. There he meets various Saints who enlighten him concerning the nature of the divine and salvation. Dante's universe was the Ptolemaic system where the Earth was at the center and the Planets (wanderers, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars,  Jupiter, Saturn ) and stars occupied various crystalline spheres that rotated above the Earth.  
The Sayers translation was purchased back in the 1970's for 90 cents, probably from a book store near PSU. The Norton translation was a .mobi file ( a project Gutenberg book downloaded from the internet. Also, can be found at

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How to Answer a Jehovah's Witness by Robert A. Morey. 1980, ISBN 0-87123-206-5. Purchased on 2-17-2012 for $ .01 + 3.99 s&h from Thrift Books via Amazon Marketplace.
This book purports to teach Evangelical Christians how to talk with and convert Jehovah Witnesses who might come to their house to promote their religion. The idea of the book is to prove that the Watchtower Society promotes false prophecies and that therefore their version of religion is false.
The real way to talk to them is to just not answer that door and whatever you do don't give them any money or let them in your house!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blues People by LeRoi Jones. 1963, ISBN 0-688-18474-X.
Subtitle: The Negro experience in White America and the music that developed from it.
This book is about African-American music. How it got started with the slaves from Africa and their work songs, to Gospel, to Blues, to Ragtime, to early Jazz and to the various forms of Jazz that developed up until about 1960. (At least the edition I read stops at about 1960.) Doesn't discuss Rock or any more recent musical forms. Very interesting, written at a College level.
Purchased at Cameron's 1996 for $2.50.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Divine Comedy - Purgatory by Dante Alighieri, tr Dorothy L. Sayers, 1955, ISBN 0140440461. The Divine Comedy - Purgatory tr Charles Eliot Norton, 1891.

The Sayers translation was an actual book. Probably purchased in 1973, for $1.05, maybe at Powells, maybe at a bookstore by PSU. This translation has a long introduction and notes after each canto. Plus there are several Appendix that discuss certain issues in more detail. In the Divine Comedy Dante mentions many people and scholars have tried since it was first made available to determine who these people where. Matilda is one such character who has be speculated about for many years. This translation is again in verse form, that tries to reproduce the Italian Terza rima.

The second translation I read was the Charles Eliot Norton. This is a file I read on my kindle (, which can be found at websites that have public domain texts. I think this was originally a project Gutenberg text (here.) This translation is older and in prose form. It also has notes to explain the various references.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

How to Answer a Mormon by Robert A. Morey. 1983 ISBN 0-87123-260-X. Recently there has been talk in the media about Mormonism vs. Christianity. Mostly because of a republican candidate for president. So I thought it would be interesting to read a book on the subject. I have read about Mormonism before, I even tried to read the Book of Mormon (I found it too silly. Read it here.) This book however doesn't discuss Mormonism vs. Christianity. Morey's attack on Mormonism is based purely on the prophet-hood of Joseph Smith jr. and what he prophesied. Morey's idea is that all of Mormonism rests on Joseph Smith being a Prophet and if he is shown to be a false prophet then the religion is false.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Divine Comedy: Hell by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy L Sayers. 1949, ISBN 0 14 044 006 2.

The Divine Comedy: Inferno By Dante Alighieri, translated by Charles Eliot Norton. 1891.

The Sayers translation was the actual book. I purchased it probably in 1973. This is the third time I have read it. The Norton translation is an ebook (, it is a Gutenburg text, google it.) I don't remember where I downloaded it from, but it is in the public domain.
I read these two translations canto by canto. Sayers tried to translate into English the poetic form of the original Italian. She discusses it in the introduction. Norton is a prose translation. Both have notes to explain various references, but Sayers are much better (of these two.)

This is a story that takes place in medieval Italy. It is about a lost soul (Dante) searching for the truth. Hell is populated with many famous people, some real and some fictional. Also, there are many people that Dante knew, but who are unknown today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Genome by Matt Ridley. 1999, ISBN 0-06093290-2. Subtitle: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. This is a popular science book. It is about the human genome, the genes that produce humans. Those genes are stored in 23 pairs of chromosomes, hence the 23 chapters. The author discusses one gene for each chromosomes and in doing so covers a wide range of topics. Purchased 8-12-2002 at Borders for $14.00. This is the second time I have read this book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey by Spencer Wells. 2002, ISBN 0-691-11532-X. This book is a history of the human race as told by the genetic information sampled from various people around the world. The author describes how he and many other scientists have discovered the migrations of human populations since man started to leave Africa around 50,000 years ago. The book is mostly non-technical in the way it explains the ideas covered. The book explains some basic ideas about how genetics works and how it is involved in the evolution of man. There is a TV series with the same title. Purchased 1-26-2003, from for $20.97.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Oxford Dictionary of Islam edited by John L. Esposito. 2003, ISBN 978-0-19-512559-7. This is a dictionary, a reference book, and therefore not meant to be read from cover to cover. I have read part of the beginning and will probable continue to read a few pages from time to time. So far I am not enjoying this as much as the Thomas Hughes book. That book is much older and much bigger and not as politically correct, but it was more interesting to read than this book. The entries were usually longer and frequently contain references to the Quran, etc.
Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins. 1996, ISBN 978-0-393-31682-7. This book is about the Theory of Evolution or Darwin's idea of Natural Selection. It discusses how generations of individuals are more or less successful at passing their genes on to succeeding generations thus 'selecting' some genes while others are de-selected. This process is impersonal and not directed by anything, it is just the result of the actions of the environment on a population over a period of time. This author discusses how something which seems to be improbable could over many thousand of generations be slowly perfected (to its current observed state.) Excellent book, worth reading more than once. Purchased at Powell's 9-9-2011 for $7.98.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Hastur Cycle, edited by Robert M. Price. 1993, ISBN 0-56882-009-7. Subtitle: 13 Tales of Horror Defining Hastur, the King in Yellow, Yuggoth, and the Dread City of Carcosa. This is a collection of short stories that are related because the involve the use of Hastur, Hali, Carcosa, the King in Yellow, etc. The stories are written by Ambrose Bierce, Robert W. Chambers, Karl Edward Wagner, James Blish, Arthur Machen, H. P. Lovecraft, Richard A. Lupoff, Ramsey Campbell, James Wade, August Derleth, and Lin Carter. These stories were written from the late 1800's into the 1980's. In the introduction the editor describes this as a revised edition of Spawn of Cthulhu.This book was purchased on 9-9-2011 at Powell's books for $15.50.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Islamic Invasion by Robert Morey. 1992, ISBN 0-89081-983-1. Subtitled Confronting the World's Fastest Growing Religion. This book is critical of Islam. The book makes some good points, but is mostly everything negative the author could find to say about Islam. The author is a Christian who seems to feel the need to defend his religion by attacking others. Besides books on Islam he has written books about Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, Roman Catholicism, Masons, etc. I guess these books are meant to enlighten the Evangelical Christians on how to deal with everyone else who believes something that they don't believe.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Maker of Moons by Robert W. Chambers. 1896. This is a collection of short stories written by the American writer R. W. Chambers. The collection was published in the late nineteenth century. Most of the stories are romantic, but some are "weird". R. W. Chambers is considered to be one of the writers that influenced H. P. Lovecraft. This book was a PDF that I read using my Kindle. The type was a bit small, but the scan was clean. The scan was made by Google and obtained from

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Man of Numbers by Keith Devlin. 2011, ISBN 978-0-8027-7812-3. Subtitled: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution. This book is about Leonardo of Pisa aka Fibonacci. The book is well written. However, not much is known about Fibonacci, so it is a bit thin. The book describes Fibonacci's contribution to the western world as one of making the Hindu-Arabic number system more available to merchants and bankers in medieval Italy. Fibonacci did this through his book Liber Abbaci (the Book of Calculation). The book introduces the Hindu-Arabic numbers and how to do calculations with them. It does this mostly by presenting story problems that would be easy to understand or were relevant to the merchants of that time. The book also introduces algebraic ideas concerning how to solve story problems. Today the name Fibonacci is associated with Fibonacci Numbers. This because this number sequence appears in Liber Abbaci (see page 404, Liber Abaci, translated by L. E. Sigler) in a story about rabbits. The story, like the many other stories in the book, is intended as a way to use the number system to do math problems and not as a treatise on rabbit biology (or Fibonacci numbers either.) Purchased at Powell's books, 9-6-2011 for $25.00.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Fabulous Fibonacci Numbers by Alfred S. Posamentier and Ingmar Lehmann. 2007, ISBN 978-1-59102-475-0.
This book discusses the Fibonacci numbers. It gives some of their history and many of the areas of mathematics and science that are touched by this number series. Also, discusses the Lucas numbers and the Golden Ratio. If you enjoy mathematics and numbers then you'll love this book. My only complaint is that the proofs of some of the statements were placed in an appendix instead of inline with the statements. Purchased 10-30-2007 at Powell's, for $28.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Golden Section by Scott Olsen. 2006, ISBN 978-0-8027-1539-5. Subtitled Nature's Greatest Secret. Also, on the cover in small hard (for me) to read print it says "the essential guide to the deepest mystery on earth" and "a little book about the secret of life." This is a little book. It is not tiny, but it is smaller than most hard covers. The entire "Wooden Book" series is the same size. This book has many fine drawings illustrating the various subjects described. The book has 26 chapters and seven appendix. The chapters are each two pages long, with one page of text and one page of drawings. The subject is mostly "phi" (the Greek letter "phi" is used as a symbol for the number) an algebraic irrational number that appears frequently in nature. "phi" is approximated by the ratio of succeeding Fibonacci numbers 8/5,13/8, 21/13, etc. It is these Fibonacci numbers that usually are found. "phi" itself is given by the expression (1+sqrt(5))/2. The decimal value is approximately 1.6180339... While this book is mathematical in some of its content it is mostly mystical ideas related to how the numbers occurs in many places. I found this book very interesting to read and if I find the time may read it again. The text however is very terse, each chapter just scratches the surface of an idea before it goes on to another. If you are interested in "phi", but don't have a lot of time, then this book will introduce you the subject. You may find that when you have learned some about "phi" you will want to learn more. Golden Section is sometimes called Golden Ratio.

Monday, September 5, 2011

In The Quarter by Robert W. Chambers. 1894. This is a short novel about a student living in Paris and studying art. It appears to have been Mr. Chambers first novel. I found it easy to read. The version I read was an ebook ( file created from a Project Gutenberg text. I don't remember where I found it. I read it on my Kindle. I think you can also find pdf of this file on

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Aeneid by Virgil, translated by Robert Fagles with Introduction by Bernard Knox. 2006, ISBN 0-670-03803-2. Last of the three epic poems from the Greeks and Romans. This story, written by Virgil, hundreds of years after Homer tells of events that occur at about the same time as the Odyssey. It is the story of Aeneas and other surviving Trojans who escape Troy and make their way to Italy to found Rome. The story has elements of both Odyssey and Iliad in it, the long wandering journey and the epic battles. Book was purchased at Borders, 11-17-2006 for $32.00.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Facts on File - Calculus Handbook by Eli Maor. 2005, ISBN 0-8160-6229-3. This a reference book intended for students of calculus. There is a six page historical introduction to calculus. This followed by four sections of reference material. The first is a Glossary that defines many terms related to calculus, trigonometry, analytic geometry and strangely economics and finance. The second section contains Biographies of various mathematicians, third is a section of Chronology that lists significant events in the history of mathematics and finally the fourth section has some tables listing various facts about trigonometry and calculus.
The glossary is hard to read from beginning to end because it is an A-Z dictionary of math terms. It isn't intended to be read that way, but instead as a place for the student to look up terms. The other sections can be read from beginning to end or just those parts that the reader is interested in.