Posted by: Matt | December 10, 2007

Non-Fiction Kick

It seems the only posts I manage to write lately are about new books. Guess I had better keep buying! Went on a bit of a shopping spree this past Saturday, think of it as a sort of early Christmas present. I came home with 4 new books, all of them non-fiction since I am on a non-fiction kick lately. The books are:

The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin – I hope I can understand this one, it sounds like it might be over my head. I plan on reading it as a sort of response to Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh – This looks like a great book on the beginning of the universe which fits in nicely with my renewed interest in Astronomy, plus the cover is shiny.

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond – I’ve realized there’s a lot I don’t know about evolution, particularly of us. With all the controversy surrounding it lately, actually since the theory was first realized, I thought I should learn more. Jared Diamond is also an author I’ve thought about reading several times but never have, and he’s a geographer like me!

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson – This is another book which I’ve heard good things about for years and with the publication of the second book in the trilogy this looked to be a good time to pick it up. It was also time to get back to my interest in World War II.I have also decided to start taking notes when reading non-fiction. I don’t plan on going back over them but I think that writing will help me remember what I learn for longer. Unfortunately this means it will take longer to get through them, but I hope the benefit will outweigh the negative.



  1. Taking notes will almost definitely help you to remember more details, Matt, and I think it’s worth the extra effort and time. I used that method for so many Civil War histories that I ended up with several notebooks crammed with facts and interpretations of what I read. Those notes still come in handy when I need to refresh my memory about something that I remember reading about in one of the books.

  2. I really enjoyed Brian Greene’s first book about string theory but I have to admit that I felt a little like this afterward. Interested to hear your review of the Trouble with Physics.

  3. Sam – Now I just have to see if I can stick with it or if I get impatient and stop taking them. I just need to find the right balance between not enough and too many notes.

    Jonathan – Thanks for the cartoon link, that seems to summarize pretty nicely what many think of string theory so far.

  4. Not looking at your new books – I’ve already picked up a couple from your purchases. I’m still on a fiction kick though.

    Jared Diamond has a new book out? I did not know that.

  5. @ Carrie K, THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE is actually an old Diamond book that came before either GUNS, GERMS, AND STEEL and COLLAPSE.

    I’d be very interested to hear what you think of THE THIRD CHIMPANZEE, Matt. I thought GGS was much better than TTC, but maybe having never read GGS you’ll have a different opinion.

    Bryson’s A SHORT HISTORY blew me away, but GGS knocked me off my feet. They compliment each other perfectly I think.

  6. J.S. Peyton – Thanks for clearing that up for Carrie, I had meant to respond but kept forgetting. I have thought several times about reading Guns, Germs and Steel but never have. If I like The Third Chimpanzee I will pick it up.

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