Saturday, June 11, 2005


I like books.

At the moment I am reading "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" by T. E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia - a great movie starring Peter O'Toole). I have been aware of this book for almost as long as I can remember but I was never in a position to match my interest with the actual opportunity to purchase it until a couple of weeks ago while browsing a bookstore in Sydney NSW as we were waiting to return home from a four-month stay in Australia. While noticing a recent biography of Mao Tse-tung in the section on new books (which I had seen mentioned in a Canberra paper a few days earlier in an article on the author, Jung Chang - who also wrote Wild Swans, and which I had bought the previous day) I happened to see the Lawrence book right beside it (someone had placed it there after having second thoughts about buying it). I seized the moment and am glad I did.

If you can follow the convoluted prose in the previous paragraph you may realize that I now have three books to read:

  • Wild Swans
  • Mao: The Unknown Story
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom
The first two promise to provide a rich tapestry of detail about Chinese history while the latter gives a first-person account of the war in the middle east as part of World War I. I do not consider myself knowledgeable on either topic.

However this morning, after reading a few chapters from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, I was glancing at a book by Michael Spivak called Calculus, published in 1967. I have ordered the most recent edition of this book and am expecting it to arrive next week. In the meantime I had borrowed the first edition from the University library. At one point in a discussion of the properties of numbers Spivak mentions a reference. I turn to the references section and notice the following quotation at the preface to the suggested references:

A man ought to read
just as inclination leads him;
for what he reads as a task
will do him little good.
Samuel Johnson


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