Book: River out of Eden

A short little book about Darwinian evolution. Dawkins uses the metaphor of a river of information (the information being the genetic sequences in all life on Earth) to explain the workings of evolution and natural selection. Good as usual, although lighter than his earlier works.

Book: Peer-to-Peer: Building Secure, Scalable, and Manageable Networks

Note to self: when you want to get a book on a technical subject, go with geek-oriented publishers like O’Reilly.

This book is terrible. It has a few good insights about building P2P systems, but the collective wisdom of this volume could easily fit in a book less than a quarter of the size. The rest is filled with rambling prose, condescending and superfluous metaphors, and atrocious grammar. Bleh.

Book: Anna Karenina

I had some trepidation about reading Tolstoy — the Russian authors have a reputation for hard reading. But I was very pleasantly surprised. This translation is excellent. The prose is accessible and modern, but not too modern to miss the flavor. The story is fantastic and the characters are real and memorable.

Book: The Annotated Alice

An annotated edition of *Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland* and *Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There*. Gardner supplies copious notes and references that explain many of the period- and in-jokes that most modern readers wouldn’t get. He also supplies a lot of biographical information about Carroll and the real people that appear as characters in Carroll’s books.

Book: Elbow Room

What does it mean to have free will? Is free will incompatible with determinism? With indeterminism? What does it mean to control oneself? What does it mean to make a choice? Why do we want free will at all and what do we want when we want it?

Dennett examines these perennial philosophical problems and disposes of many of the “bugbears” which plague the often fear-riddled investigations into these topics. Dennett also develops answers, or at least the start of some answers, that embrace the possibility of determinism and evolution. Good as usual.