What We Are Reading Today: Stephen King’s 11/22/63  

Updated 04 May 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Stephen King’s 11/22/63  

  • Stephen King decides to right one of history’s most monumental wrongs in this morose melange of science-fiction, philosophy and romance
  • King’s painstaking research is evident throughout; his attention to detail a joy to discover on page after page

As a concept, going back in time to correct past mistakes has always been an appealing one.

And in this morose melange of science-fiction, philosophy and romance, Stephen King decides to right one of history’s most monumental wrongs.

11/22/63 throws a humble New England schoolteacher into middle-class America in the 1960s, tasked with preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

No small feat. King’s painstaking research is evident throughout; his attention to detail a joy to discover on page after page.

His character development is strong, as always, and the love story interwoven into the far-fetched, fantastical time paradoxes means there is something for everyone in this rather bleak commentary on humanity’s uncanny ability to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Is it King’s best novel? Not by any stretch. But the atmosphere he creates is a stark departure from some of the better-known titles in his considerable canon.

Fans of alternative histories will love this book.

And for the rest of us, there is a lot to enjoy in the vivid world, flawed-yet-very-believable characters and the assessment on the darker side of human nature that King has written.


What We Are Reading Today: Newton the Alchemist

Updated 21 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Newton the Alchemist

Author: William R. Newman

When Isaac Newton’s alchemical papers surfaced at a Sotheby’s auction in 1936, the quantity and seeming incoherence of the manuscripts were shocking. No longer the exemplar of Enlightenment rationality, the legendary physicist suddenly became “the last of the magicians.” Newton the Alchemist unlocks the secrets of Newton’s alchemical quest, providing a radically new understanding of the uncommon genius who probed nature at its deepest levels in pursuit of empirical knowledge.
In this evocative and superbly written book, William Newman blends in-depth analysis of newly available texts with laboratory replications of Newton’s actual experiments in alchemy. He does not justify Newton’s alchemical research as part of a religious search for God in the physical world, nor does he argue that Newton studied alchemy to learn about gravitational attraction. Newman traces the evolution of Newton’s alchemical ideas and practices over a span of more than three decades, showing how they proved fruitful in diverse scientific fields. A precise experimenter in the realm of “chymistry,” Newton put the riddles of alchemy to the test in his lab.
He also used ideas drawn from the alchemical texts to great effect in his optical experimentation. In his hands, alchemy was a tool for attaining the material benefits associated with the philosopher’s stone and an instrument for acquiring scientific knowledge of the most sophisticated kind.