This is about stuff that has improved my life, even just by giving me a moment’s respite from the ongoing madness. (Weirdly, sometimes the best way to escape from a world in crisis is to read about other worlds in crisis.)
I am currently reading The Indian Clerk by David Leavitt as well as Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak. Although the former is a novel, so far it seems to capture the spirit of Hardy and Littlewood’s Cambridge excellently. Since both take place at more or less at the same time, one gets to see the mathematical (and wider) scene of the time from some different perspectives. Of course, we know that both books end in tragedy, with two of the greatest minds of the 20th century lost far too early.
I love Cal Newport‘s work, and since we’re in similar jobs (I have also published a few things in computer science), I take his advice seriously. The principles in Deep Work have caused me to reevaluate basically everything I do, and I am about to read it yet again, because I feel I have strayed from the Deep Work path. This is mostly because during lockdown, my e-mail and administrative load has exploded. I suspect I am not alone in this. Because there is as yet no best-practice for this type of situation, there is much wasting of effort and redundancy. So, I am quite excited for his new book, A World Without E-Mail, because that just sounds like bliss to me. Unfortunately, I have no idea how I will convince the powers that be that they should stop sending me meeting requests at all hours…It is also worth giving his book Digital Minimalism a look, which has substantially changed the way I approach the working day.
I picked up Jupiter’s Legacy on a whim the other day, not even knowing that Netflix was making the series. Usually, anything Mark Millar writes is excellent, and so is this. If there were super-heroes, this is probably what would happen… (Careful when buying this though – the original collected editions are not all called “Jupiter’s Legacy”, but the Netflix editions are.)
The Three-Body Problem: The best sci-fi I have read in the last 5 years, bar none. I know I am a bit late to the party (as I so often am), because the book has been out for a while. Reading it became the best part of my day.
I’ve finally found the solution to having many, many notebooks cluttering up my study, and it is the Rocketbook. Expensive for a notebook, sure, but it allows me to easily capture my notes on Google Drive, and means I won’t run out of notebook space when travelling. Although I still have a weakness for a decent notebooks, especially European ones, whose paper quality is sometimes amazing.
Next time, back to the maths.