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Mark Anderson Locked account

Joined 1 year, 6 months ago

I am an omnivorous reader.

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David McCullough: John Adams (2002, Simon & Schuster) 4 stars

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the …

I didn't know much about John Adams before reading this book. I came away with great respect for the man and his commitment to independence and his contribution to the founding and growth of our nation. McCullough brings to life the realities of the time period, what travel meant for families, how reading and writing were the life thread between spouses, parents and children. Adams was inspiring in how well read he was, and his productivity in letter writing. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton come out looking tarnished from Adams's side of things.

Alex Christofi: Dostoevsky in Love (2022, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc) No rating

I really enjoyed this book. Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors -- and while I had a cursory knowledge of the big events in his life, I didn't have much understanding of the context for those events, his relationships, and how his novels connected to those events and relationships. This book does a great job of bringing us into Dostoevsky's head and heart when he wrote his great novels, and when he missed the mark (which he himself was more aware of than anyone). His compulsion with gambling is nail bitingly presented alongside its impact on those he loved (how did Anna endure all those pawning of her most cherished things when they needed money the most?!). He lived on the edge of survival and extremes of passion and intellect and physical hardship and illness, losing two children in scenes that are heartrenching, yet this seemed to drive the …

Blake Crouch: Recursion (Hardcover, 2019, Crown Publishing) 4 stars

Memory makes reality.

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he …

Time travel but with memory

No rating

The story revolves around a memory device that can bring people back in time to a memory that they then can change -- but it changes everyone else's memories, and they can then remember those timelines as well. Mindbending fun.

David W. Blight: Frederick Douglass (2018, Simon & Schuster) 5 stars

Review of 'Frederick Douglass' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Highly recommend. This remarkable man stood at the epicenter of the moral and legal battles for abolition of slavery and the rights of Black Americans, and his voice, intellect, and force carries forward to today, as captured in his own autobiographies and the transcriptions of his powerful speeches. He is one of the world's greatest orators and what struck me in this encompassing account of his life is how endlessly he was on the road across America and the UK, standing and delivering speeches -- this hard-earned mastery was the result of a life devoted to his cause and to his craft. I nearly cried at the end of this biography when he died, not only at the renewed sense of loss of his life, but furthermore because all the things he fought so hard for and against continue to be fights in US society today. The fight against racism …

Remi H. Kalir, Antero Garcia: Annotation (2021, MIT Press) 4 stars

Review of 'Annotation' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

An interesting little book that examines annotation as a genre. I typically think of, and am interested in, annotation as an aspect of a close reading of written text that extends from the history of exegesis of sacred text and literature. But this book explores annotation from a far wider scope to include the digital labeling of data sets for training machine learning algorithms and as a tool for fact checking or civic advocacy and improvement. I found it a bit dry at times but found myself later making connections to the book when reading articles about Google deep learning networks annotating brain scans or when using an automated citation manager that needs to be checked to ensure labels are accurate. I have also started using Hypothesis, an open source annotation software that works pretty seamless as an overlay in a web browser. Annotation is much more deeply interwoven and …

Annie Murphy Paul: The Extended Mind (Paperback, 2022, Mariner Books) 4 stars

Review of 'The Extended Mind' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

Lots of intriguing ideas in here -- I've always enjoyed Paul's articles on cognition, assessment, and learning in the past, and the book doesn't disappoint. Some of this research was familiar to me, most especially that related to the relation of the physical environment to thinking, but there was also some that I was not as familiar with, such as gesture as a precursor to language and as an accelerator to language learning. The book's push is against the common view of cognition as an individual, independent act that occurs within isolated brains. Instead, Paul promotes the understanding that our minds thrive in extended relation to the world through our social relationships, our emotional state, and the circumstances of our physical environment. If all you take away from this book is the idea that you need to get up and go for a walk in a park to clear your …