After All These Years, Still Reading

The Pew Research Center is publishing several sets of research on America’s reading habits, including the impact of ebooks. It is a chart geek’s paradise.

One section caught my eye: The General Reading Habits of Americans.

I especially noted the chart on how many books we read:

The offset between the mean and median numbers of books is caused by all those folks who read a hundred or more books a year.

You do remember the difference between mean, median and mode, don’t you? Time for a statistics review? Don’t feel bad, obviously the folks who write the evening news and political ads don’t know how to tell the truth with numbers either. Mark Twain said, “Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.'”

So far as the skewed curve of books read per year, we know who we are, don’t we?

A chart elsewhere in the article indicates we’re reading more books than in the past.

Happy reading.

Book Review: The Martian by Weir (4 stars)

The Martian by Andy Weir

4 out of 5 stars

Read in February 2014

“Mars keeps trying to kill me. . . .  Mars and my stupidity keep trying to kill me.”

Totally awesome! Think Michener’s Space with a full orchestral treatment of “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing” as theme music.

Nail-biting suspense on top of solid, hard science. With more than a dash of humor. Really, really good storytelling. The best hard SF I’ve read in years.

Quibbles? Sure, but none which materially affected the story, with the possible exception of the drama-enhancing gaps in imagination and communications. In fact, what threw me out of the tale most–and most often–was the gratuitous profanity. Yeah, I know, soldiers and sailors (and presumably, astronauts) cuss a lot. But it’s too simplistic to load the script down with profanity. It wasn’t necessary, and it showed laziness. Weir did such a fine job of making his cast real and individual that it detracted.

Nice cover art.

“Live Another Sol”

October 4, 2015 Addendum:

Mr. Weir could learn something from Hollywood, specifically Ridley Scott. The Martian movie handled the profanity much better. The viewer has no doubt that Mark Watney had strong emotions and expressed them strongly without being assaulting by it.