What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

No Impact Man - Colin Beavan No Impact Man by Colin Beavan was a required summer reading text for my university honors program. While this is a good introduction to examining the consumerism and materialism that currently pervades American consumption culture, the science and claims made in this book are shaky. That being said, the data for anthropogenic climate change and the unsustainable practices of the modern industrialized society as conducted by the United States are facts. There is plenty of scientifically collected data that supports this, and serious environmental scientists have no doubt that the data supports this claim. This book examines how these issues are created at an individual level, with the author's attempt to make no garbage and no net carbon footprint, among other things. The way the author presents the data, however, makes his claims less reliable and more frustrating. Statements that could be easily described and supported by data, like the link between high levels of pollution in the Bronx and a high rate of childhood asthma, have no citation in the back of the book. Many of the citations are from popular press articles, and sometimes, like with the 2003 EPA report that 36 American states would in 5 years be experiencing water shortages if then current usage continued, were 5 years old. This is in no way a hard science book, and the research into environmental issues shows this clearly. The experiential anecdotes related are in no doubt important in illuminating the larger cultural issues, like the use of throw away diapers, that make reducing waste and carbon dioxide difficult. However, they are anecdotes from one source. This makes for intriguing reading but poor science writing.Overall, No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process is an curious and enlightening memoir, though in no way a fine example of science writing.

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard