What We Are Reading Today: Counting by Eugenia Cheng

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Updated 19 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Counting by Eugenia Cheng

The title of Counting contains some revealing wordplay: To count is to tally things up but, also, to count is to matter. 

In this book, political scientist Deborah Stone explores the ways in which these two meanings of “count” are intertwined in society. 

“She argues that our judgments are embedded in the way we count because of the decisions we make about what matters, and that we then use this to make concrete judgments that we claim are based on math when really they’re a result of our preconceived notions,” said Eugenia Cheng in a review for The New York Times. 

“It is a curious experience to agree with the conclusion of a book but not its argument. Stone’s broad message is that we shouldn’t regard numbers as reflecting absolute truths about the world without first considering the methods used to produce those numbers,” said the review. 

“We shouldn’t overstate the power of math and science, but we shouldn’t understate it either,” it added.

Eugenia Cheng writes the Everyday Math column for The Wall Street Journal.

What We Are Reading Today: How to Be Content

Updated 21 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: How to Be Content

Edited by Horace and Stephen Harrison

What are the secrets to a contented life? One of Rome’s greatest and most influential poets, Horace (65–8 BCE) has been cherished by readers for more than 2,000 years not only for his wit, style, and reflections on Roman society, but also for his wisdom about how to live a good life—above all else, a life of contentment in a world of materialistic excess and personal pressures.  In How to Be Content, Stephen Harrison, a leading authority on the poet, provides fresh, contemporary translations of poems from across Horace’s works that continue to offer important lessons about the good life, friendship, love, and death.

Living during the reign of Rome’s first emperor, Horace drew on Greek and Roman philosophy, especially Stoicism and Epicureanism, to write poems that reflect on how to live a thoughtful and moderate life amid mindless overconsumption, how to achieve and maintain true love and friendship, and how to face disaster and death with patience and courage.

From memorable counsel on the pointlessness of worrying about the future to valuable advice about living in the moment, these poems, by the man who famously advised us to carpe diem, or “harvest the day,” continue to provide brilliant meditations on perennial human problems.

Featuring translations of, and commentary on, complete poems from Horace’s Odes, Satires, Epistles, and Epodes, accompanied by the original Latin, How to Be Content is both an ideal introduction to Horace and a compelling book of timeless wisdom.