pjo: books

Ella dice que la gente acaba por lo general sintiéndose desgraciada, nada más que por haber creído que la felicidad era una permanente sensación de indefinible bienestar, de gozoso éxtasis, de festival perpetuo. No, dice ella, la felicidad es bastante menos (o quizá bastante más, pero de todos modos otra cosa) y es seguro que muchos de esos presuntos desgraciados son en realidad felices, pero no se dan cuenta, no lo admiten, porque ellos creen que están muy lejos del máximo bienestar.
—  La tregua, Mario Benedetti 
I saw a new world coming rapidly. More scientific, efficient, yes. More cures for the old sicknesses. Very good. But a harsh, cruel, world… and I saw a little girl, her eyes tightly closed, holding to her breast the old kind world, one that she knew in her heart could not remain, and she was holding it and pleading, never to let her go.
—  Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

The Muse Calliope. Ceasare Dandini (Italian, 1595-1658). Oil on canvas. The Bowes Museum.

Half length figure of Calliope, one of the nine muses, daughter of Jupiter and Mnemosyne. She is wearing a rich décolleté dress of red and blue, and carries a laurel crown over her left forearm. Her right hand rests lightly on Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and 'Iliad’ and Virgil’s 'Aeneid’. 

When it comes to winter reading, critic Parul Sehgal looks for one simple thing – vindication of her desire to loaf, laze and retreat from the world, “the assurances, in short, of The Wind in the Willows, whose edicts are sane and just:

No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter.’”

How’s that for hibernation reading?

Image: Paul Bransom’s illustration from a 1913 edition of The Wind in the Willows shows Otter traveling through the snowy woods. (Wikisource)

knightofash-deactivated20150425  asked:

Could you recommend some good cell/genetic biology books to read to get a general handle on the topic? I'm well read in engineering and physics but pretty lacking when it comes to biology. My grandfather was a microbiologist for a few decades and listening to his stories made me interested in cells and the like.

Bookshelf: Part One

Biology & Genetics

First of all, you might want to have a look at some textbook, such as:
Biology by Campbell & Reece.
Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts, etc.
Concepts of Genetics by William S. Klug etc. …

Then you can move more easily through popular science. My favourite books (in English) on genetics/biology are

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
DNA: The Secret of Life by James D. Watson.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
The Violinist’s Thumb by Sam Kean.
The Snoring Bird by Bernd Heinrich.

The Snoring Bird is not entirely related to the topics you specified, but I love this book (I am particularly interested in the ideological clash between “modern” biologists vs.“old-fashioned” naturalists) and when you have mentioned your grandfather, you have reminded me of it.

It goes without saying (… or not) that you can’t delve into all this without knowing the theory of evolution, it’s like trying to build a skyscraper without foundation or scaffolding.

Top 13 Books I've Read In 2013 (In No Particular Order)

Earlier this year I told myself that I would be more picky in choosing which books to read. I was only partly successful. Because this year, I’ve read close to forty percent of all the books I’ve read in my whole life. That’s a lot, I tell you. My goal was to read at least one book per week and I’ve successfully accomplished that and then some. This is what I’ve realized:

Read. It doesn’t matter what it is. Because you’re either a pro-reader or you’re not. And if you complain about things like a character being whiny or crass or dull, or some other things you consider “flaws,” know that someone’s got to write these stories. Someone’s got to write about the good-natured, clumsy girl. Someone’s got to write about the headstrong, independent woman. About the boy who is lonely and cruel. Or the swoony guy next door with a dysfunctional family. All of them could be whiny or stubborn or both. And it shouldn’t matter. Because fictional characters are representations of real people. Therefore, they should be flawed. And books, like people, are different. Don’t expect them to be wonderful right from the beginning. Take your time. It is our job as readers to give these stories a chance. It is the only way we can give back to the brilliant, brilliant writers who poured their hearts into making them. Besides, you never know which ones will disappoint you, move you, break you, make you think, or make you want to hurl the book at someone – you’ll never know these feelings unless you start reading and make it to the end. And we can only say we are fully human when we allow ourselves to experience all these feelings. Don’t be afraid.

This reminds me of the Doctor’s love for the human race and how he thinks we’re giants and, of course, this makes me emotional. But I digress. (I just had to put a Doctor Who reference.)

Either quality equals quantity when it comes to books or it’s completely irrelevant. Read what intrigues you. You can be picky and still read a lot. This is the only way we can discover which books we love and which ones we hate. We define ourselves by the words we keep close to our hearts and the words we’d rather forget. You never lose by reading. You build yourself and you win. You always win.

Read, read, and read.

Below is my Top 13 Books of 2013. For the record, these are only the top 13 books I’m willing to share. I also have another list of books I want to keep to myself. That’s not to say the ones I’ve included here aren’t personal. All of them are personal. But some things are best kept secret.

(All images were taken from Goodreads.)

Blankets by Craig Thompson

I think this is the only graphic novel I’ve read this year, but it turned out to be very significant. I read it at a time when I was questioning my own faith and religion, and I connected with the protagonist in a way that felt like his journey was also my journey.

Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav

I don’t have much to say about this poetry book except that it is simple, uncomplicated, and deeply relatable. If love can be captured into words, this is it.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

This book reinforced my belief that characterization is more important than plot. And that is saying a lot. Because the plot of this book is unlike any other dystopian books out there and the character development blew me away. I also want a Liam.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

If you want to feel better about the world, this book is for you. I am constantly surprised by how powerful middle grade books can be. I came out of this book crying happy tears.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

This book is so atmospheric. When I was reading it I felt like I was there, running through the fields, feeling the wind, smelling the sea, sitting by the cliffs, and fighting my way through my first Scorpio Race. The story is unhurried and there is a certain quietness to it that hit me to my core.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Wow. A few chapters in and I couldn’t put it down. The best thing about Patrick Ness is that he transcends genres. I’m having a hard time putting into words my feelings for this book but there are some scenes here that I will think about for the rest of my life. I’ve been so fortunate to discover Patrick Ness and his works this year and I think he’s actually my spirit author.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is one of those books that I want to keep a secret but feel like not many people know about it, and I want more people to read it. I mean, clearly, historical fiction is not for everyone, but this book is so much more than that. I rarely encounter female friendship this powerful in books and I found it to be both unsentimental and emotional. I know it makes no sense but god, this book keeps haunting me. I could cry just thinking about it. Sometimes I think that there is nothing more beautiful than best friendship and I live for these stories.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The beauty of this book is in the way it just is. The story involves some kind of wizardry, yes, but it doesn’t feel the need to tell you its origin and how supernatural things keep happening. It simply is. And it’s so refreshing. Neil Gaiman’s talent is something you can’t deny.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

This is also one of those books that I want to keep to myself, but unlike Code Name Verity, this one became so popular that I had to come out of some closet just because it was bothering me so much. It felt like other people reading my diary. I really tried not to tell anyone about it, but you cannot bottle greatness and hide it away. This book is so personal to me and one of the books to which I will keep coming back. I will read anything this woman writes.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

This is the only contemporary YA that really stuck with me this year. The way all the characters develop throughout the story is very satisfying and heart-warming I couldn’t help but give Morgan Matson a slow clap. Yes, I was clapping through my tears.  (For the record, I don’t consider Eleanor and Park contemporary. I think it’s historical fiction, sci-fi, sometimes fantasy, coming-of-age, romance, young adult, and non-fiction rolled into one and you can’t make me change my mind.) 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

You either love this book or hate it. I love it. Rick Yancey’s writing is very distinct and unlike any other YA voices that I’ve read. I judge a book more by its beginning (than anything else really) and this book got me hooked right from the start. The story reminded me of The Walking Dead combined with The Hunger Games. But it’s also very special on its own.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Okay, this book is long. But when I got to the last page I realized I didn’t want it to end. There were a lot of feelings involved and I was positively surprised by how much I loved it, considering it was my first sports fiction. This book means so much to me and, like The Book Thief, I finished it with nothing but love for all the characters. Chad Harbach, you are skilled. I exhort you!

The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

This has become my go-to book. I bring it everywhere. I personally think this is David Levithan’s finest work to date.

So there you have it! I’m very fortunate to have read so many personal and memorable books this year and I’m so excited for what 2014 has in store. A quote I love goes, “A good book is an event in my life.” So thank you, authors, you’ve made my 2013 rather eventful and one I will remember fondly.