Reading is my first love. As a kid my mother had no problem purchasing primers for me. As I got older I gradually moved up from R.L. Stine, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, J.R.R. Tolkien, and H.P. Lovecraft. While I enjoyed everything that I read I will admit that I was not an adventures reader. If it had nothing to do with horror, science-fiction, insane alien landscapes, or hobbits I was not interested.
That is until I started working in the PSC Library. Part of my job is to put back books that were returned; at first I was indifferent to the books that were not what I normally read. But, I started taking simple glances, which turned to light readings, that ended with me checking out books that I had to keep from reading on the drive home (a dangerous idea by the way). Eventually I became like a foodie in a restaurant and tried everything: the good, exotic, spicy and bland. I have read a good chunk of it all.
Now I keep my eyes open whenever books are returned to see what I can get my hands on. My favorite reads have become the books that I never knew we had, and opened me up to different literary forms.
Here is a sample of the “lesser known” books on the PSC shelves:
Going shopping? Ever wonder what the blue haired anarchist, the flatulent eighty-one year old comedian, or the scary twenty year old who looks like he kills animals shop for? In the hilarious book A La Cart: the Secret Lives of Grocery Shoppers Hillary Carlip actually goes shopping as the side-splitting characters that were inspired by the grocery lists she has been collecting for years. What really got me about the book was how I could have sworn that I had seen those people in the stores that I go to, and that someone had whispered to me the riotous back stories that she came up with. This book is a real pick me up for anyone needing a good laugh.
Mama taught me not to judge a book by it’s cover, but when I saw the cover of the Rububaiyat of Omar Khayyam I could not resist. This is a book that needs to be experienced with its gorgeous tree and vine cover, the vivid paintings inside, the mystic quatrains it holds, and goodness knows even the book’s end papers are striking it really is a book that a hardcore book lover will appreciate. Written by Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet/mathematician/philosopher, between 1048–1131 AD, the Rububaiyat(which means a collection of quatrains) have been used for hundreds of years as tools for a type of divination called bibliomancy, with those of Omar Khayyma being one of the most popular especially in Russia. This book is a true surprise every time that I pick it up I am astonished at what I find inside.
I Am Not Spock is a must read for all science fiction fans and pop culture junkies. Now before you Trekkies/Trekkers start writing angry e-mails allow me to explain myself. I love watching the Star Trek shows/movies, all of them, and I picked up this book not knowing any of the controversy surrounding it. It is a good autobiography, but I can see why fans would be upset because at first glance it seems like he is rejecting the character that Leonard Nimoy is best known for playing, but I think that he actually liked Spock the character he just needed to define his own identity. But, then again you are free to pick up the book and make up your own mind.
I am an English Major, and that should tell you more or less how I feel about math. That is why even I was shocked when I picked up The Math Book by Clifford A. Pickover. This book is a timeline of the major events that happened in the history of math. Now that may sound as interesting as watching paint dry, but the book and it’s stories really grab a person. I never knew that at one point and time math was religion (with it’s own martyrs), or that cicadas helped come up with prime numbers, or that mathematics is used in mysticism, or that calculus was discovered around 1665. What really got me, though, was how new discoveries are going on in the world of mathematics, the timeline ends in 2007, but that does not mean that new discoveries are not on there way. This is a great way to get introduced to the math world and maybe even look further into it.