Relativity Simply Explained by Martin Gardner

Find in catalogThis is a very well-presented discussion of the basic concepts of relativity, both the Special and General Theories. Gardner makes these theories accessible and clear in layman’s terms. It can be difficult to visualize concepts like this, and Gardner accomplishes the task very well.

There are also chapters on the implications of Relativity Theory, such as black holes, worm holes and the shape of the universe. The book is old, but the basic concepts are still relevant. It’s also fun to see that some of the concepts had not been verified at the time the book was written, but they have now. For example, gravity waves, and the graviton, the basic particle of gravitation, which were predicted by the General Theory of Relativity, have very recently been detected.

This is a fun read, stokes the imagination and equips the reader with basic concepts to apply to more technical and current writings.

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The Last Summer by John Hough, Jr.

Find in catalogThe Last Summer, by John Hough, Jr. is the perfect book to read on a lazy summer day at the beach.

The love story is brilliantly told; it will remind you of the longing and the desperate chances we’ve all experienced. Told from many perspectives, this story effortlessly transports the reader to those times in life the define us.

Set in the 1960’s, the writer effortlessly transports his readers to that era, and lets them live daily life there, along with the characters in the book. The only way to truly travel in time is to remember. This book is proof.

Adventures Beyond the Body by William Buhlman

Find in catalogAdventures Beyond the Body, by William Buhlman, is part journal of unusual experiences, part theoretical speculation and part how-to manual for those who want to explore.

Out of body experiences have been around as long as humans, and accounts of them appear in all cultures. In our times, mental health and medical personnel report that they are very commonly reported by many patients. Buhlman shares some of his own journeys, and his methods for reaching the state. He also speculates on what this state of being might imply about the nature of our world.

This book makes a good complement to the writings of Robert Monroe. Buhlman offers a slightly different take on the nature of the experience, and some other methods for going there. In Fact Buhlman and Monroe worked closely together.

If you are in the mood for an expanding, thought-provoking exploration of the nature of us and our universe, this book is a great start.

Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem

“Amnesia Moon” by Jonathan Lethem is a story about a man who isn’t sure who he is what has happened to bring him to his current situation in life. In other words, he is all of us.

When the story begins, a young man named Chaos finds himself living in small town in Wyoming where modern life has disintegrated. He can’t remember what happened to cause modern life to collapse. When he asks others what happened, no seems to be sure and they don’t want to talk about it.

On a road trip to California, Chaos discovers that the more closely he examines his world, or even himself, the more it disintegrates before him. As his exploration unfolds, Chaos adapts.

The story bears an allegorical relationship to our lives. We all find ourselves in the world, with no certainty about where we came from or where we will go after this experience is over. And we live our daily lives with a sense of identity that is fragile and constantly changing.

This is Chaos’ walk in the world, and his story is our story, a story of adapting and accepting.

An American Dream by Norman Mailer

Find in catalogNorman Mailer is probably best known for “The Executioner’s Song,” about Gary Gilmore. This less well-known novel was written in 1965, and it is unlike his later work. It tells the tale of Stephen Rojack, a very successful man who does something horrible and then tries to cover it up.

The writing style is a richly detailed and imagined stream of consciousness that creates an intimate and emotional connection between the reader and Stephen.

Many of the descriptions reminded me of Jack Kerouac’s style. As a story of how people can fall, and how some aspects of American culture can be seductive and damaging, this novel was ahead of its time.

The language and themes are uninhibited, so this is probably not a book for teenagers. In fact, when it was published it was considered “controversial.” It’s a gritty tale that offers insight and caution to the reader, as well as being plain fun to read.

Florida Straits by Laurence Shames

This is a darkly funny novel about a New York gangster who decides to leave “the life” and retreat to Key West, only to be caught up in a caper. Joey Goldman is a simple but unintentionally wise and sensitive man. If you love the feel of the slowed-down tropical life, and a good caper story with lots of twists, this book is for you! The story also offers wisdom and self-discovery, delivered with humor, for example:

“Joey had always felt that putting your attention on something sad that couldn’t be fixed was about as pointless as sticking your finger in your eye.” This is also a story about love, family, redemption and the risks of intimacy.

The language is mature, and there is some violence and sexual themes, so this book is for adult readers. It’s funny and warm, and in the end (no spoilers), you will feel emotionally connected to Joey and his girlfriend.