After student questions about “What I’m reading,” it’s time to share books that have made their way from library bookshelves to mine at home.
Everything from medicinal plants, a review of the neurological basis of creativity, physics/quantum relationships, socialist economics, shamanistic practice, and a few cookbooks!
Though not newly published, two worthwhile non-fiction books to spend time reading: For anyone interested in the global energy system, Dan Yergin’s “The Quest” (2011) is worth your time. Covering everything from the creation of large multi-national oil companies in the late ’90s to current efforts to generate photovoltaic energy, you’ll be the better for reading this.
For those looking to understand art and applications to science, you’d be well served to spend time with Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci (2017). You’ll learn new tidbits (including that Leonardo was a musician), hear about his complicated family life, and go beyond the usual Leonardo favorites. Inspirational and enjoyable reading!
A newly published book, Visual Intelligence, by art historian and lawyer Amy E. Herman sheds light on the power of observation as an invaluable tool in all types of careers. Ms. Herman has created a career based on her love of art and used it to improve the skills of law enforcement and future doctors. After running a course for a decade that has taken police officers and medical students into art galleries of New York City to study paintings to hone observational skills, Ms. Herman now writes about these experiences and suggests (too frequently) that they are applicable to all professions. If you can get past the first person accounts of how she has or hasn’t noticed things in her life through her glamorous world travels and if you can overlook her often incomplete and perfunctory-seeming explanation of the science underlying her work, this book is an excellent tool for all students. Of particular note: high school students exposed to this type of observational study went on to have higher standardized test scores. Do you think of yourself as a good observer? Do you notice details that others may miss? How do you think observational skills may be helpful in improving your academic performance? Or on the job performance?
The crack staff at the NVCC-Alexandria library notified me of a new addition to the collection: Aristotle’s Ladder, Darwin’s Tree: The evolution of visual metaphors for biological order. Upon reading the book, by Prof. J. David Archibald at San Diego State Univ, I imagine students interested in biology and also fascinated by graphic design, history (including Ancient Rome) or art would enjoy this 200 page text replete with diagrams, paintings, and drawings. The only complaint? No color, only black and white! While this may be warranted for pen and ink B&W sketches, it took away much of the visual impact of Ed. Hitchcock’s 1852 Paleontological Chart, which was originally published in color. Odd to omit color, especially for a text focused on visual metaphors. Otherwise, worth reading for students interested in taxonomy and visual organization of information.