“Space” by James Michener

July 7, 2019 Reviews , ,

I’d picked up the book “Space” by Michener at my local second hand book store, over on Markham Rd:

Google says the store is called “Alfsen House Books“, but I don’t remember ever seeing a sign.

I’m pretty sure I’ve read a few Michener books over the years, including (I think) Mexico, the Covenant, and the Source.  Of these, “the Source” I remember most.  All of these I probably read it in my late teens, which was way too long ago, so I have only vague recollections of them, but I definitely found all of them amazing at the time of reading.  When I grabbed Space at the bookstore, using up whatever credit I had from bringing in books, I didn’t remember having read it.

However, with each page I read, it was like deja-vu.  This was a book I’d definitely read, and hard to believe that I’d forgotten doing so.  Michener books, if you haven’t read any, are all elaborately constructed histories, full of amazing backstory, and the interleaved lives of the characters that make up the stories.  This particular book interleaves the stories of rocket engineers, test pilots, politicians, and their families, as well as the history of the US space program.  It was really fun, ~25 years later, to read it a second time.  This story covers older aspects of the  space program (even compared to when I read it), but it has aged really well.

Years from now, if I see another copy of this book (my current copy is pretty mangled now as I read large chunks of it in the hot tub), hopefully I’ll remember having read twice before, and opt for something new instead.

Awesome bookshelves in my home office space

September 15, 2018 Incoherent ramblings , ,

Sofia and I spend a large part of the day installing a set of four Ikea Liatorp bookshelves in my office today. The shelves fit pretty much perfectly, with a 1/4″ gap on each side. In fact, to get them to fit we had to take the baseboards and window casings off, but I’ll put in new ones butting up nicely to the shelves. When we eventually sell the house, the buyer better be interested in bookshelves, because these are a permanent feature of the house now!

The Liatorp model shelves are nicely engineered.  There are easy access leveling pegs, they join together nicely, and the backer board uses screws with pre-drilled holes in exactly the right places, plug some other plugs that hold the backer in place (far superior to the Billy model!)

Here’s a view of the whole shelf unit, which is loaded bottom heavy since the top shelves are spaces closer at the moment:

I had a lot of fun moving books down from the bedroom bookshelves, and have moved most of the non-fiction content.  I was really pleased that I can mostly group my books in logical categories:

  • Statistics and probability, with a couple German books and a dictionary too big to fit with the language material.
  • Calculus and engineering:

  • Computer programming, including my brand new Knuth box set!

  •  Spill over programming, general physics, fluid mechanics, and solid mechanics:

  • Home repair and handywork, plus two religious books too big to fit in the religion section (I’ve got other religious material in boxes somewhere in the basement, including a Morman bible, a Koran, and a whole lot of Dad’s Scientology books (and a couple of mine from days of old) :

  • Optics and statistical mechanics

  • Investment and economics (although the only one I’ve really cracked of these is the old “Principles of Engineering Economic Analysis” from back in my undergrad days)

  • Electromagnetism and some older general physics books from Granddad:

  • Algebra, complex variables, General relativity, mathematical tables, plus Penrose’s book, which spans most categories:

  • Political, classics, some borrowed Gaiman books, and religious

  • Languages:

There’s a bunch of tidy up and finishing details to make my office space complete and usable, but this was a really nice step in that direction.  Mysteriously, even after moving all these books downstairs from the bedroom, somehow the bedroom bookshelves are still mostly full seeming.  Was there a wild book orgy when we weren’t looking, and now all the book progeny are left behind, still filling the shelves despite the attempt to empty them?