User Profile

Eric Lawton

Joined 4 months, 1 week ago

Book interests very varied. Psychology, sociology, politics, social systems, history, biology, physics, philosophy.

Fiction: science fiction, literary, historical, much more.

Bio: Natural philosopher (STEM background), retired IT Architect. Supporting public policy based on kindness, respect and evidence. Cis, het: he. Settler on the traditional territories the Mississauga branch of the Ojibwa Nation.

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2023 Reading Goal

Success! Eric Lawton has read 51 of 50 books.

Incandescence (2009) 4 stars

Two very alien species and an intro to general relativity

4 stars

One species lives on the interior of a rock in a perilous orbit around a neutron star, and teaches itself general relativity (GR) from scratch from measurements inside the rock. If you pay close attention to their discoveries and calculations, you will get a good foundation for GR and differential geometry, without needing to know any more maths than basic arithmetic. As they gain understanding, they realize their situation, and that it is unstable, so they take action to escape danger. As they do that, we learn how society can be organized in a different, cooperative manner.

The other species is looking for them, having been tipped off by a third species, for reasons that we are left to puzzle over. Their technology is vastly advanced from our own.

One star off because it is fairly hard work to follow the physics, even though I know more GR than is …

History from the pov of rich and poor alike

4 stars

Shows the impact of the big events on the social and personal lives of people. Easy reading. I may have liked it more because as an old man from working-class northern England, I recognized a lot of what happened in the last 100 years of the book from personal and grandparent's lives.

The state in capitalist society (1973, Quartet Books) 4 stars

The Key work of Britain's leading postwar Marxist thinker (and father of British Labour politician …

Good but outdated

3 stars

The main arguments and conclusions are good but it's very outdated in its examples. Not the fault of the author, just that I took a few decades to get round to finishing it as it needs a lot of focus. It wasn't too bad for me, because I lived through many of the examples, which are drawn from Europe, the US and the UK. There were too many quotations from Marx for me, often accompanied by "things didn't turn out that way but he was almost right", which suggests that some newer marxists might be better to use. He is accurate in describing left-wing parties like the UK Labour Party ― it's interesting that his son, who was active there, was active with the ideology which he describes here as unfortunate but inevitable. The other way it's outdated is that although events since the book was published have not been …

A natural curiosity. (1990, Viking) 4 stars

A wide angle view of English society in the 1980s

4 stars

Second volume of series. Best read in order.

I particularly liked it because it covers declining northern English industrial areas centred on friends, family and acquaintances of three people from there who later went to Cambridge University. A sociological and psychological take on the differences between classes and the psychological variety of people of all classes; aristocracy, professional, working, petit bourgois, ...

The age of capital, 1848-1875 (1996, Vintage Books) 5 stars

The Age of Capital: 1848–1875 is a book by Eric Hobsbawm, first published in 1975. …

Excellent history of its period, from one of the best English historians.

5 stars

Very easy to read, draws lots of connections between all its sub-topics. The only drawback was too much Marx. Not the Marxist perspective, which is an illuminating one and present in all his books, it's just that Marx was active in this period and even the book doesn't show that his influence over the events was sufficient to justify how many times he is mentioned.

The radiant way (1987, McClelland and Stewart) 4 stars

Interesting story, set in times and main places that I know well.

4 stars

I love Drabble's writing and this story of three women covered a lot of my own background ― being from Northern England and being a bit of a misfit in Cambridge University, not very long before my times ― so I found its descriptions to be accurate and memory-stirring.

The Third Child (Paperback, 2004, Harper Perennial) 5 stars

Under her mother's constant scrutiny and lost in the shadow of her famous senator father, …

Almost as good as "Three Women"

5 stars

I should have waited a bit after reading "Three Women" because of their similarities.

Still, another excellent character, family and social study, this time focused around US politics. It's told from the point of view of the third child in the family who, unfortunately for us, is excluded from the politics that I would have liked to heard more about, but still reveals a good deal about how disconnected US politics is from the needs of Americans.

Human (Hardcover, 2008, Ecco) 5 stars

One of the world's leading neuroscientists explores how best to understand the human condition by …

5 stars for content, minus 2 for editing.

Very verbose and chatty, useful content per 1000 words low.

Fortunately each chapter has a summary.

The author seems to be addressing American college students, partly becayse psychologists use them for their experiments but also because he uses them for his imaginary dialogues, though he does use imaginary cave painters.