Arts & Leisure

Book review: A Series Of Fortunate Events — by Sean B. Carroll

(Princeton University Press)
It is always edifying to expand your mind in the contemplation of big ideas, and author Sean Carroll is very adept at creating such an opportunity, presenting his big ideas in a tiny tome (his new book is approximately 5- by 8-inches), and in such a warm, convivial manner that feels akin to a rousing discussion. His overarching premise: That we humans, and in fact all life on earth, exist as we do because of chance occurrences. The book excels at being both comprehensive and intellectually stimulating while also being current, relatable and down-to-earth, pun intended. Carroll uses specific incidents to elucidate his points: Chapter One in Part I tackles “The Mother of All Accidents,” the massive dinosaur-killing asteroid, that, had it landed in any other spot on this planet, may NOT have wiped out the dinosaurs as well as all other non-aquatic animals larger than a squirrel. He cleverly juxtaposes these “fortunate events” with historical events that help explain the concepts he is trying to communicate, which makes for a rare blend of cultural history with cutting-edge scientific thought. It’s really a fascinating book, and should be read by anyone who has even a passing interest in why the world is the way it is. That is to say, all of us.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.
 

11 Books Of Philosophy & Social Aspects of Science
Metazoa, by Peter Godfrey-Smith
Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Enlightenment Now, by Steven Pinker
The Book of Why, by Judea Pearl
Counting, by Deborah Stone
Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes
Apollo’s Arrow, by David Orrell
Kindred, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes
The Shallows, by Nicholas Carr
Brief Answers to the Big Questions, by Stephen Hawking
Timefulness, by Marcia Bjornerud 

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