It’s hard to beat a good book. I enjoy books but find reading from a computer monitor difficult. There’s something about words on paper.
Mind you, computers and the internet do provide a beautiful compliment to books. I have often found that after reading a book I can go on line and find other material by the same author. In some cases I can also find video and audio material – lectures given by the author, documentary programmes based on the author or book, and interviews from book tours.
Sometimes I actually find out about new books and authors from web sources and this encourages me to go out and get the book. Podcasts like The Brain Science Podcast have been invaluable sources of new reading material.
Recently I came across two interesting books discussed on the Blogging Heads podcast site. This usually has two people discussing a subject and is available as both video and audio. I don’t bother with most of them but these two were fascinating.
In The Artistic Animal John Horgan discusses the new book The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution with its author Denis Dutton. One review of this book describes Dutton as an “aesthetic philosopher” who “sets out to do for art what Steven Pinker and others have done for psychology, language, and religion: consider it from a Darwinian standpoint.” Dutton’s contribution to this podcast was certainly fascinating and I look forward to reading his book.
In the other podcast, Entanglement untangled, Lousa Gilder and George Johnson discuss Louisa’s new book. Entitled The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn the book gives the story of quantum mechanics. She comes far closer to the present in her discussion than most histories do and also utilises an unusual creative tool for science histories – “constructed dialogues” between the scientists involved. These dialogues are based on papers, journals and letters. Sounds fascinating and I will definitely look out for it.