Behind Door #7: Book Lust

7 December 2006 at 23:51 Leave a comment

These days it seems like the gaps between really good books is getting longer and longer. I’m not just talking about enjoyable books. I’m talking about books that make me check my public library request list twenty times a day to see if the object of my desires is wending its way to me through the maze of inter-library loan. Books that force me to choose whether to stay up all night reading in one big gulp (like I did with Lost in Place) or to take small sips, doling out each page or chapter to make the whole thing last longer (like with Songbook).

I’m not sure that the choice ultimately matters that much since these are the books I reread. Some, like Paris to the Moon or Anyone But You, I return to every once in a while. Others, like The Emperor of Scent, I can’t wait to reread. The day after I finished reading it the first time, I started all over again. I think I read it four times in succession — marking favorite passages with post-it tabs so I could email them to friends — before I finally decided I was developing an unhealthy attachment.

I almost hesitate to type this for fear of jinxing myself, but I think I might have found another one of these books: The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. I’m only about twenty or so pages into it, but already things are looking promising.

Witness the following passage from page 6:

Waste recycling turns out to be a hallmark of almost all complex systems, whether the man-made ecosystems of urban life, or the microscopic economies of the cell. Our bones are themselves the result of a recycling scheme pioneered by national natural selection billions of years ago. All nucleated organisms generate excess calcium as a waste product. Since at least the Cambrian times, organisms have accumulated those calcium reserves, and put them to good use: building shells, teeth, skeletons. Your ability to walk upright is due to evolution’s knack for recycling its toxic waste.


Entry filed under: Books, Julkalendar, Science.

Behind Door #6: Grüß von Krampus! Behind Door #8: The War on Krampus

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