My Public Library Reading List

by Benjamin B. Bacon                                                                                                                  January 17, 2013





I  STARTED THE MATHEMATICS PART OF THIS SERIES OF READINGS WITH The Poincare Conjecture: In Search of the Shape of the Universe, by Donal O'Shea. This choice was inspired by my ongoing interest in the millennium problems and their solutions. Because the proof of this conjecture was a topology based one, as are most of today's proofs, I next read ...

Elementary Topology, Second Edition, by Michael G. Gemignani. This book was very dense with the concepts of topology. It was thorough in its explanation of the topic, I would say- with lots of formality and rigor.  This book was followed in my reading by a recommended reading title from the The Poincare Conjecture....

Three-Dimensional Geometry and Topology, Volume I, by William P. Thurston and edited by Silvio Levy. This book is highly praised as one of the best treatises on topology, being derived from the class notes of Thurston's lectures. It did have a certain coolness about it, as it avoided formality in the text and the layout of the book.

Theory and Problems of Tensor Calculus, by David C. Kay was next on my list, if I am truly getting the order of the books I read correct. In retrospect, this book should have come first on the list, as it would have made reading the books on topology easier. Even though the Gemignani book explained the meaning of  a metric, and the book on the Poincare Conjecture discussed it, neither of these books clearly explained the origins of the concept of metric in terms of its tensor calculus foundations. Reading the Theory and Problems of Tensor Calculus first would have made the book by Thurston much easier to understand, as it explained in detail the terminology and concepts that Thurston presupposed  knowledge of.  I really benefited from reading Kay's book and studying the solutions to the illustrative problems.

I next wanted to read something a little more recreational compared to the heavy lessons that the preceding list put me through. I choose The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry by David Wells. This book was a  lot of fun to read, and I could read it in just about any way that I wanted to, without missing the point of the definitions. I liked jumping from topic to topic, or following a  trail of definitions that were dependent on each other, or browsing until I found something interesting. There were so many gifts in this book that I could not exhaust it of its amazingness.

After reading Curious and Interesting Geometry, I went back to Theory and Problems of Tensor Calculus for a review. I did that about three times. The list of books that I had read up to this point were for learning purposes. I next began to check out books that were related to a specific project that I was working on. These were...

Introduction to Calculus of Variations, by Hans Sagan, to see if I could uncover the  hidden secrets of optimization; and next Classical Mechanics to find out if I had missed some very simple solution. I found what I was looking for in both of these books.

I summarize my reading experiences over the years 2011 to 2012 by saying that I became modernized in my perspective on mathematics.

Somewhere in this list of books I read some biographical works by Barack Obama- Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance  and The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. I also listened to audio books by Richard Feynman-   Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun, 1st edition by David L. Goodstein, a recording of a lecture on an alternate derivation of the equation of the ellipse for planetary orbits- and the autobiographies "What Do You Care What Other People Think", and "Surely You Are Joking Mr. Feynman". The latter Feynman books were extremely informative, and had I read them before I went to study at MIT I would have been better prepared for life there. I could have especially used the awareness of the existence of the prankster culture, which I had no idea existed there, until I listened to Feynman's book.

On the entertainment side of life I indulged myself in works that were of historical and cultural value. The sound recording of Neuromancer by William Gibson brought me up to speed on the popular origins of the cyberspace culture. This was the book that put the actual word cyberspace into our language. And then there are the movies, that never seem to stop evolving on the library shelves. I opted to indulge my sci-fi habits with classical movies from Star-Trek, and I have now entered the world of the Star Wars fans- a world which I ignored previously in my life. My viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey made me a Stanley Kubrick fan forever. I am amazed by this director who was able to make a simulation of life in space seem both real and interesting. I studied his movie like it was a textbook. I did the same for the Fellini classic La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life). This movie marked the end of my journey through the movie section of the library, because my portable DVD player quit working at that point. Thanks to the computer terminals that the library offers for use I was able to watch La Dolce and one other DVD, The Smartest Computer on Earth, since then. The classic black-and-white movies To Kill a Mockingbird and A Streetcar Named Desire brought me up to date on movies that are considered must-see dramatic entertainment. Also on this list is West Side Story, a colored classic musical that I checked out and studied intensely.

To top it all off, I got educated first class by the DVDs on Robots, the Wonders of the Solar System, NASA's When We Left The Earth  and other selections from the less browsed educational section of the movies shelves. I viewed a DVD to learn about Howard Hughes, a man who's life and mystique has always fascinated me. My favorite among these was a DVD about Muhammad.

Muhammad [videorecording] Friedman, Steven. Publisher A&E Home Video; Pub date c2004.

The books that I browsed without checking out or reading completely from cover to cover were primarily biographical. These included biographies on Florence Ballard, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Nat King Cole,  Colin Powell, and Jihan Sadat. There were also some technical books that I browsed while waiting for a computer terminal or whatever, and to help out with some work I was doing, in some cases. These were the following...

Downing, Douglas. Statistics the easy way. Barron's, c1997.

Halpern, Alvin M. 3000 solved problems in physics.  McGraw-Hill, c1988.

Jacobsen, Annie. Area 51: an uncensored history of America's top secret military base.  [sound recording],  Hachette Audio, p2011.

Jaisingh, Lloyd R. Statistics for the utterly confused. McGraw-Hill, c2006.

Selections from 100 greatest songs of rock & roll.  Hal Leonard, [2002?].

On the subject of music, the small collection of CDs in the music section had some knockout titles to listen to. I tried the following...

The Copland collection [sound recording]
Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990.Publisher Sony Classical,
Pub date ©2006.

The very best of Chopin [sound recording]
Chopin, Frédéric, 1810-1849.Publisher Naxos,
Pub date c2005.

Jazzanova - mixing [sound recording]
Jazzanova (Musical group)Publisher Sonar Kollektiv,
Pub date p2004.

The Vienna years [sound recording] : sonatas, fantasies, rondos
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791.Publisher Sony Classical,
Pub date p1997.

The best of Beethoven [sound recording]
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827.Publisher Naxos ;
Pub date p1997.

The best of Dvo*rák [sound recording]
Dvo*rák, Antonín, 1841-1904.Publisher Naxos :
Pub date [1997], p1992.

The complete works of Scott Joplin [sound recording]
Joplin, Scott, 1868-1917.Publisher LaserLight,
Pub date p1993.

Fletcher Henderson and his orchestra, 1924. Vol. III [sound recording]
Henderson, Fletcher, 1897-1952.Publisher Classics,
Pub date [1992]

Johann Strauss II [sound recording] : waltzes
Strauss, Johann, 1825-1899.Publisher EMI,
Pub date p1991.

Renaissance [sound recording]
Marsalis, Branford.Publisher Columbia,
Pub date p1987.

Beyond [sound recording]
Redman, Joshua.Publisher Warner Bros.,
Pub date p2000.

The reference section had some useful books in it. I enjoyed the huge World Atlas, the largest book in the library. I used the World Book Encyclopedia, references on Africa , African-Americans, biographical collections on musicians, scientists, and artists and some local references on Georgia topics. There are reference books on the check  out shelves too, like The Encyclopedia of the Dog that I browsed to get up to speed on Dachshunds and American Bulldogs.

I found all of these books and media at one library branch- Port City Library, the nearest library to my house. I believe that I have not yet found all of its treasures. I found a book that I could buy in the book nook on the corner of the wall behind the copier. I used the copier for my important business work on occasion, and more frequently, the printers. I met some nice people, some interesting people, and some not-so-nice people. What  a great few years I have had at the public library, and I am still going there, so I might soon do something like this again. I must not forget to mention that the service there is top-notch. The best!!


Benjaminson, Peter. The lost Supreme : the life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard. Lawrence Hill Books, c2008.

Botting, Kate. When we left Earth  : the NASA missions. [videorecording], Discovery Communications, c2008.

Bush, George W. (George Walker). Decision points. [sound recording],  Books on Tape, 2010.

Clinton, Bill. My life [sound recording],  Random House Audio, 2004.

Corben, H. C. Stehle, Philip. Classical mechanics, 2nd edition. Dover Publications, New York, 1994.

Cox, Brian. Wonders of the solar system. [videorecording]  BBC Worldwide Ltd., c2010.

DeYoung, Karen. Soldier  :the life of Colin Powell. [sound recording], Books on Tape, 2006.

Discovery Channel (Firm). Essential robots collection. [videorecording], Discovery Channel, [2010].

Epstein, Daniel Mark. Nat King Cole. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.

Feynman, Richard Phillips. "What do you care what other people think?" [sound recording] Blackstone Audiobooks, 2005.

Feynman, Richard Phillips. "Surely you're joking, Mr. Feynman!" [sound recording] Blackstone Audiobooks, 1997.

Flanigan, Joe. Stargate Atlantis. Season 5. (Television program) Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment,

Gemignani, Michael G. Elementary topology, 2nd edition. Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1990.

Gibson, William. Neuromancer . [sound recording], Books on Tape, 2011.

Goodstein, David L. Feynman's lost lecture : the motion of planets around the sun. Norton, c1996.

Kay, David C. Theory and problems of tensor calculus. Schaum's Outline Series, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1988.

Kazan, Elia. A streetcar named Desire. [videorecording], Warner Home Video, c2006.

Kubrick, Stanley. 2001 : a space odyssey.  [videorecording] Warner Home Video, 2007.

Lehman, Ernest. West Side story. (Motion picture), MGM Home Entertainment, [2003], c1961.

Lenic, John G. Stargate. The ark of truth. [videorecording]  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment [distributor], 2008.

Lenic, John G. SGU, Stargate universe. 1.0. [videorecording]  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2010].

Lenic, John G. SGU, Stargate universe. 1.5. [videorecording]  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2010].

Mastroianni, Marcello. Fellini, Federico. La dolce vita. [videorecording], Koch Entertainment, 1960.

MPI Home Video (Firm). Howard Hughes : the man & the madness. [videorecording], MPI Home Video, [2005].

Mulligan, Robert. To kill a mockingbird. [videorecording], Universal, [2005].

Neeson, Liam. Star wars, episode 1: The phantom menace. [videorecording] . 20th Century Fox, 1999.

Obama, Barack. Dreams from my father : a story of race and inheritance. Crown Publishers, [2007], c1995.

Obama, Barack. The audacity of hope : thoughts on reclaiming the American dream. [sound recording],
Random House Audio, 2006.

O'Shea, Donal. The Poincare conjecture: in search of the shape of the universe. Walker & Company, New York, 2007.

Sadat, Jihan. My hope for peace. Free Press, 2009.

Sagan, Hans. Introduction to the calculus of variations. Dover Publications, New York, 1992.

Stewart, Patrick. Star trek: Nemesis. [videorecording],  Paramount Pictures, [2005].

Thurston, William P., ed. by Silvio Levy. Three-dimensional geometry and topology, volume 1. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1997.

Wells, David. The Penguin dictionary of curious and interesting geometry. Penguin Books, New York, 1991.

Wright, Brad. Stargate: Continuum. [videorecording],  Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, [2008].