Turning the Pages

This week, I’ve managed to read a biography! This hardly ever happens, unless someone suggests a good one.

This particular autobiography was written twenty years ago, but it’s worth a read. Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) was a famous physicist who lived a very interesting life. The autobiography is full of anecdotes about his life, from making radios (and fixing them by thinking, which apparently impressed the neighbours) when he was eleven or twelve, to his experiences with sensory deprivation later in his life.

Feynman was quite a character. He dabbled in picking locks–many of them intended to restrict classified information. He learned to draw to share his love of the aesthetic beauty of mathematics and physical phenomena with the layperson (it didn’t hurt that he got to draw nudes!). Feynman’s stories are all told from his own point of view in a personal, funny style that draws the reader in to his experiences. He tells many stories about his musings, from wondering what consciousness is, to observations of insect behaviour.

Everything is covered in his autobiography, from his 4-F deferment from the army for being psychologically unfit, to how he got coded messages past the censors when he worked at Los Alamos. He writes about his embarrassing moment in the student library. He was taking a biology course and looking for the map of the cat. The librarian, horrified, informed him that what he wanted was a zoological chart. He also discusses his experience in learning Portuguese. It turned out to be both harder and easier than he’d thought. He was also frustrated with the Japanese language, although he found Japan fascinating upon visiting the country. Many of his stories end with his surprise that people thought he was smart. In his opinion, many of his ‘impressive feats’ were actually accidents or luck. All in all, the book is a great read. It provides insight into the life of a great physicist. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! is definitely worth checking out.

My fun read for the week was Seven Up by Janet Evanovich.

I love Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie is a bounty hunter, but think of her as Lucille Ball going after the bad guys. All of the books in this series are hilarious and silly. They feature one screw-up after another. Stephanie, herself, commits most of the screw-ups. In this seventh book of the eleven book series, Stephanie has to bring in her grandmother’s boyfriend, Eddie, who has smuggled a load of cigarettes. Unfortunately, finding him isn’t easy.

Stephanie’s parents are longsuffering. Her ex-husband is a creep. Her arch-enemy is a new bounty hunter cramping her style. Her love life includes relations with Morelli, a very hot cop, and Ranger, an even hotter ex-special-forces elite bounty hunter who operates on the shady side of legal. Stephanie’s life is a mess, and her bounty hunting techniques are slapstick in style. If anything can go wrong for Stephanie, it will, from her perfect Meg Ryan clone sister moving back home, to mud wrestling in pursuit of a suspect.

Evanovich’s novels are hilarious and involve enough of a mystery to keep the reader guessing about what’s really going on. Stephanie Plum novels are part mystery and part Keystone Cops film.

Can you understand a woman afraid of commitment? A person who will do nearly anything for pineapple upside-down cake? A person who lives in fear of a bad hair day? If yes, then these books are for you. If you are the kind of person who can imagine such a woman working as a bounty hunter, but keeping her gun empty of ammunition and hidden in the cookie jar, then you’ll really enjoy the books. I enjoy them. They’re a hoot. You should check them out.

Got a suggestion for a book that should appear here? We’re glad to read ’em!

Evanovich, J. (2002). Seven Up. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Feynman, R. P., Leighton, R., & Hutchings, E. (Ed.) (1997). “Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.