What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge
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Updated 19 May 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

What We Are Reading Today: The Tower and the Bridge

Author: David P. Billington

What do structures such as the Eiffel Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the concrete roofs of Pier Luigi Nervi have in common? According to The Tower and the Bridge, all are striking examples of structural art, an exciting area distinct from either architecture or machine design.

Aided by stunning photographs, David Billington discusses the technical concerns and artistic principles underpinning the well-known projects of leading structural engineer-artists, including Othmar Ammann, Félix Candela, Gustave Eiffel, Fazlur Khan, Robert Maillart, John Roebling, and many others.

A classic work, The Tower and the Bridge introduces readers to the fundamental aesthetics of engineering.
 


What We Are Reading Today: The Brain in Search of Itself

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Updated 02 July 2022

What We Are Reading Today: The Brain in Search of Itself

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Author: Benjamin Ehrlich

Benjamin Ehrlich’s The Brain in Search of Itself is a lovingly crafted biography of the Spanish scientist (and artist, and hypnotist) Santiago Ramon y Cajal who showed us what our brains are made of.
A Spanish national treasure, Cajal is one of the most important scientists of all time, considered the father of modern neuroscience after proving that the brain was not made up of a fully continuous labyrinth of fibers — as was thought during the 19th century — but rather by individual cells that we now call neurons, those “mysterious butterflies of the soul,” in his words, “whose beating of wings may one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind.”
After a decade’s dedication
to this man, Ehrlich has profound sympathy and great insight into the workings of
his mind. This comes across clearly in the deeply researched, well-written and lovingly crafted biography.
But the strength of the book lies less in the writing than in the life of its protagonist, filled with picaresque adventures, said a review in The New York Times.


What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

What We Are Reading Today: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

“Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy is widely regarded as one of history’s greatest works of literature. 
The novel, first published as a complete work in 1878, is centered around a love affair between Anna and Vronsky, a Russian military officer, with the book’s characters highlighting the conflict between socially accepted norms and human desire.  
Despite being married to Alexie Karenin, Anna has a scandalous affair with Vronsky and moves to Moscow with him. There they live together as a married couple. 
When he finds out about the affair, Anna’s husband gives her an ultimatum: Leave Vronsky and keep the family’s reputation intact — or never see her son again. 
Tolstoy is still revered as one of history’s greatest authors. 
Born to an aristocratic Russian family in 1828, he was a master of realist fiction, and produced plays, essays and short stories. 
His most famous works include “War and Peace,” “Resurrection,” “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” and “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” 
Tolstoy received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909.


What We Are Reading Today: Transfixed by Prehistory

What We Are Reading Today: Transfixed  by Prehistory
Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Transfixed by Prehistory

What We Are Reading Today: Transfixed  by Prehistory

Author: Maria Stavrinaki

Prehistory is an invention of the late 19th century. In that moment of technological progress and acceleration of production and circulation, three major Western narratives about time took shape.

One after another, these new fields of inquiry delved into the obscure immensity of the past: First, to surmise the age of the Earth; second, to find the point of emergence of human beings; and third, to ponder the age of art.

Maria Stavrinaki considers the inseparability of these accounts of temporality from the disruptive forces of modernity. She asks what a history of modernity and its art would look like if considered through these three interwoven inventions.


What We Are Reading Today: An Immense World

What We Are Reading Today: An Immense World
Updated 29 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: An Immense World

What We Are Reading Today: An Immense World

Author: Ed Yong

In An Immense World, author and acclaimed science journalist Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses, allowing us to perceive the skeins of scent, waves of electromagnetism, and pulses of pressure that surround us. Because in order to understand our world we don’t need to travel to other places; we need to see through other eyes.

In the book, we encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth’s magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and humans that wield sonar like bats.

We also get to listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries which lie unsolved.


What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws
Updated 28 June 2022

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

What We Are Reading Today: Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws

Author: Adrienne Mayor 

Adrienne Mayor is renowned for exploring the borders of history, science, archaeology, anthropology, and popular knowledge to find historical realities and scientific insights —glimmering, long-buried nuggets of truth — embedded in myth, legends, and folklore.

Combing through ancient texts and obscure sources, she has spent decades prospecting for intriguing wonders and marvels, historical mysteries, diverting anecdotes, and hidden gems from ancient, medieval, and modern times.

Flying Snakes and Griffin Claws is a treasury of fifty of her most amazing and amusing discoveries.