Books abandoned

For some time now, I have been maintaining a list of books that I am reading and books that I have read recently. Why? One, to keep a record of books that I read that month. Two, because I find similar lists maintained by others often quite helpful. I have read books I won't have read otherwise, if it had not been for reading some blogger's sidebar, and I hope that my sidebar helps too. Three, is thanks to my self-indulgence and pretentiousness.

Prompted by Ashutosh who talks highly of John Casti's Paradigms Lost, I picked up his other book - Five More Golden Rules. I must say, I was gravely disappointed. The book is something in between a text-book and a popular book on mathematics and this approach has led to a really boring book. There are anecdotes and applications interspersed with theorems and hard-core math theory. The irritating part was that Casti after building up the excitement performs the worst escape trick by stating, " ... the details are too complicated to mention here, please see the References." References?! Still I persisted, but after reading 3 out of the 5 Rules, I felt that this book should be abandoned ASAP. Hopefully, Paradigms Lost will be better.

This incident set me thinking. Should I add a Books Recently Abandoned column on the sidebar? or rather Books to Abandon. As I write this, I see the Chomsky sitting on my shelf taken from the library on a 6-month loan (renewed once!). So there should be another category - Books Abandoned With a Sense of Guilt!


Ashutosh said...

Yes, you SHOULD have picked up Paradigms Lost first! None of Casti's books compare to that, which I regard as his magnum opus. Well, you started off on a bad leg...Five Golden Rules is a book which I abandoned too. So now, to make up for this memory, I suggest you start off with Paradigms Lost right away!
And there are so many books that I have abandoned that I never bothered making a list...

Ashutosh said...

Also, I would suggest that you read Ramanujan's (Kanigel) and Paul Erdos's (Hoffmann) biographies...a wonderful combination of mathematical anecdote and discovery. Highly entertaining, both of them. Also Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh.

Hirak said...

In fact, I picked up Paradigm's Lost last night!
I have not abandoned Singh's book. I was upto the point of the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture story when the book was due at the library and I had to return it.

Anirudh said...

I really enjoyed Paul Hoffman's book on Erdos too. I'd never heard of Erdos before I borrowed the book from a friend. I'd borrowed it simply because it was about mathematics and a mathematician.

The one by Kanigel (on Ramanujam) didn't work for me.

And yes Hirak, I do look at the lists on your side-bar so do keep updating them.

Hirak said...