so many books, so little time in the day

In the last couple of days I seem to have accumulated a pile of lovely enticing books to read. (& I didn’t even buy them – our wonderful science librarian sends new books through from time to time). I’m spoilt for choice, in fact. And I still haven’t finished Microcosm!

This would be because, when it comes to reading for pleasure (yes, OK, some might say I have a weird sense of what makes for pleasureable reading!) I’m not particularly disciplined. I’ll often have 2-3 books on the go at once. So recently Microcosm has been put aside for the joys of Coral: a pessimist in paradise, by Steve Jones. (Jones’ other books include The language of the genesThe single helix, & Almost like a whale, all of which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.) Coral begins with & keeps coming back to coral, formed by the action of millions of tiny polyps – close relatives of sea anemones & jellyfish. I got sucked in to the book because its first chapter deals with the formation of coral reefs, & how Darwin’s original explanation for this was vindicated by the unlikely agency of the French nuclear bomb testing program on Bikini atoll in the Pacific. Since I’m in a ‘reading lots about Darwin’ phase, I was hooked.

But now look at what’s on my pile! There’s David Attenborough’s latest, Life in cold blood – & we’ve got the TV series of the same name coming soon as well. I enjoy reading Attenborough not least because I can ‘hear’ him speaking as I follow his words on the page. And there are lots of pictures – always good at the end of a long day!

That’s joined by Life as it is: biology for the public sphere, by William Loomis. I ordered this one the last time we were asked to choose books for the uni library because I help run Cafe Scientifique in Hamilton & the whole purpose of the Cafe movement is to put science in the public sphere. And this book is a look at issues that can be controversial – stem cells, euthanasia, evolution – & emphasises how important it is for people to have a bit of scientific understanding when making decisions/choices in these contentious areas. Or so the publisher’s blurb says; I’m looking forward to reading that one at lunchtimes (it’s more ‘serious’ than Attenborough & I don’t like ‘serious’ in the evenings if I can avoid it!).

And there’s the enticingly-titled Sex, sleep, eat, drink, dream, by Jennifer Ackerman. No, it’s not a bodice-ripper (although I suppose that I could pretend that it was, for the benefit of those who occasionally tell me off for reading ‘serious’ stuff at lunchtime – it would need a better cover picture, though!). It’s a look at the intricacies of your body’s inner workings, written in a most engaging way by a science journalist, & I’m really looking forward to it.

But… not yet. There’s that box of marking in the corner. I’ll just – put the books on the filing cabinet and – walk away… honest…

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