I read a lot of books about math as a kid, but the two that made the biggest impact on me were Douglas Hofstadter’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach” and “The Bill James Baseball Abstracts, 1982”, probably Because no one bills itself as a book about mathematics.
As a teenager I developed ideas about literature. Adrienne Marek, my dear English teacher, who died last year, gave me a copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to read and write in exchange for our final exams, which I remember attending some sort of math competition. Had been. I became obsessed and read all of Atwood’s 1970s novels, none of which I really understood, but I could feel it Something was happening.
What was the last book you recommended to a member of your family?
I told my son CJ, who is in ninth grade American history, J.J. Asked to read “Big Trouble” by Anthony Lucas, mainly so that I can read it together with him and finally finish it. It chronicles the United States from the Civil War at the turn of the 20th century through the story of the 1905 assassination of a former governor of Idaho by dynamite. When I took history as a kid, you never learned about it. any of these; They went through the Whiskey Rebellion in really fine detail, they did Jackson and the Civil War, Lincoln was killed, then suddenly it was May and there was still 150 years left and it was “Okay, there was World War I, we won, Then they did World War II, we won again, have a great summer. ”
If you needed to read a book from the President, what would it be?
James C. “Seeing Like a State” by Scott. I learned a lot about the notion of “readability” from it, the way governments create formal structures that allow them to understand the messy world of people, then systematically mistake those formal structures for the real world. . The book teaches epistemological humility, which is a good thing for a government leader. In “Shape” I’ve written a lot about gerrymandering, which really brings you to the fact that “the people who sit in the legislature” isn’t such a great formal proxy for “what the people want”. Especially when those in power do not want this.
You are hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers do you invite, dead or alive?
Not Janet Malcolm – the idea of being watched from her pitiful gaze is terrifying.
Which books are you embarrassed to not read yet?
The books I am ashamed of not being able to read are the books of my friends, which I will not name because my friends do not know that I have not read their books yet.
What are you planning to read next?
I have a “read to read” shelf for it. It currently includes “Mathematics for Human Flourishing” by Francis Su, “We Ride on Sticks” by Quan Barry, “The Ideas That Made America” by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen. But I rarely read what I plan to read next.