Books read in November

He, She & It.
Marge Piercy.
Another futuristic tale from Piercy concerning a woman, her son and a robot. I love how Piercy imagines the world mid-century. I hope it isn’t like that, but you never know.

Outlasting the Trail.
Mary Baumgardner O’Brien
I grew up on pioneer tales and read a lot of Oregon Trail novels. For some reason, I can’t think of a single adult novel about the Oregon Trail published in the last five years. Either the pioneer stories lend themselves better to children’s literature or our frontier ancestors are not in vogue right now.

This tale is based on the true story of a woman whose husband sets out happily for California, dragging his wife and family along. Not far into the journey, a major depression sets in, leaving him argumentative and unable to pull his weight. His wife Mary must step out of her sphere and ensure the family gets to California.

The story was pretty interesting, but I was skeptical of a lot of the thoughts put in the main character’s head by the author. They did not seem authentically eighteenth century to me.

The Importance of Being Kennedy.
Laurie Graham
This book was a delightful, breezy tale of the Kennedy clan with a Kennedy nurse as the main character. The book takes a dim view of Rose Kennedy and a dimmer view of Joseph Kennedy. The story was enjoyable and the narration was breezy and funny at times, too.

The Annotated Secret Garden.
Ed. Gretchen Holbrook Gerzman
Though I felt the annotation in this book was lacking at points, I always enjoy this story.

Pet Food Nation.
Joan Weiskopf
Why you probably don’t want to feed your cat or dog commercial pet food. My guess is, that if you read this book, you will start looking for other sources of food for your pet.

Peter Jordan
Dishwasher Pete has a book! The story of Pete’s quest during the 1990s to wash dishes in all 50 states. Jordan’s writing style is entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny at times and caused me to question the nature of success and how we define work in this country. Highly recommended. He also loves Portland.

10 Days in the Hills.
Jane Smiley
Unlike Celebutantes, this is an enjoyable novel of the Hollywood world. I enjoyed the plot device Smiley used to keep nine people in the same house for ten days, as well as the various characters. There is a lot of sex in this book and I found the scenes well written, much better than your average romance novel. The book is nice and thick, it makes fabulous beach read material.

I am America and So Can You.
Stephen Corbet.
I broke Corbert’s hard and fast rule to purchase the book, not get it from the library. Fans of the show know how funny this book is. Non-fans will enjoy it too. I read this in dribs and drabs over six weeks and there was much to chortle about. The side notes in the margin were particularly ingenious.

Bringing Down the House.
Ben Mezrich
The true story of how a group of MIT students successfully counted cards in Las Vegas and won millions. When this book came out and the author was promoting it I was fascinated by the story. I forgot about it for a few years, until the movie based on it premiered this summer. Reading the book, I can hear the conversations the producers must have had to make the story more “Hollywood.” I enjoyed both the book and the movie, though if you are going to indulge in only one, I would recommend the book.

Started but did not finish
Math Equals: Biographies of Women Mathematicians and Related Activities.
Teri Perl
More research about Mary Somerville brought me to this book, by the same author who wrote Women and Numbers. This book is written for the middle school/high school level and the Discovery Activities are more difficult. A well-done book, I may return to it in the future.

Woman and Numbers: The Lives of Woman Mathematicians Plus Discovery Activities.
Teri Perl
Research about Mary Somerville for a paper in my Historical Topics in Middle School Math. This book is suitable for late elementary school/middle school students and includes fun math activities after every famous woman mathematician.

Women in Mathematics.
Lynn M. Osen.
Well-researched articles about a variety of women mathematicians.

The Usbrone Complete Book of Chess.
Elizabeth Dalby
I can’t play chess. I know how the game works, but I have no understanding of strategy. I checked this book out in an attempt to change that, but then had no time to actually learn anything from it. The book is written for children, thus making a good introductory book for any age. It is vividly illustrated and has links to every lesson to reinforce your learning.

Slide Rule.
Robert Scaffold.
My next paper topic for the Math class.

Douglas Arther Brown.
I dated a guy who was the oldest of a set of triplets, and the three of them fought all the time. This fascinated me, and I wondered if that had to do with the fact they were too crowded in the womb, or family dynamics or other influences. So I was interested in this story of triplets, but the plot didn’t hold my attention. And usually I like books with alternating narrators and letters.

Did not even start
A History of the Logarithmic Slide Rule (very long title after this)
Florian Cajori
It was written a long time ago and skimming the introduction I found that the entire book is built on a false premise. I was supposed to read the addendum first, then read the book. It seemed too much trouble so I just didn’t bother.

Graphic Aids in Engineering Computation.
Randolph Hoelscher and others.
More books for slide rule research that I didn’t actually read.

The Slide Rule Handbook.
James Own Perrine.
And even more books for research.

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