My best friend certainly knows what kind of reading material lights my fire, and did she ever score with this one! I finished one book today, and even though I don't have lots of time to read tonight, I rewarded myself by thumbing through this book for a taste of what I'm in for.
This is one hefty tome, and I won't be finishing it in January. It is 700 pages of, as the subtitle says, things I probably should have learned but (mostly) didn't. And it's not a book of trivia...this is real stuff, about art history, religion, psychology, mathematics (YES!), political science. And it's presented in creative, witty, winsome ways and organized into manageable chunks. OH I AM GOING TO LOVE THIS!
Here is a sampling. In the Music section, under "Eleven Arias to Sing in the Shower":
La Boheme (Puccini), act 1, "Che gelida manina": Four carefree young artistes share substandard garret. The sensitive poetic one meets consumptive little embroideress from garret next door. Notices, as they proceed to fall in love, that she seems a bit under the weather: "Che gelida manina / Se la lasci riscaldar." ("Your tiny hand is frozen. Let me warm it into life.")
Now there's a never-fail pick-up line, huh?
Or under Psychology:
SIGMUND FREUD (HIMSELF)
In the beginning there was Freud--or as he is universally labeled, Freud himself, with the pronoun wired inextricably to the noun. Not to refer to him this way immediately reveals you to be a parvenu on the psychoanalytic scene. To establish your credentials among the cognoscenti, you must, whenever some arcane metapsychological point is discussed, ask whether the speaker is referring to the early writings (1895-1900) or to the middle phase (roughly 1900-1910); that is, to theories which Freud himself (see how it's done?) revised in his later papers. It also adds a bit of heft to throw in such remarks as "Yes, but in 'On Narcissism' or in 'Analysis Terminable and Interminable,' Freud himself said..."
(Never one to risk exposure as a parvenu, I am definitely working on my credentials for display at the next fashionably late dinner with the cognoscenti.)
I won't bore you further, except to say that my mouth waters as I approach the math and science sections and look forward to Brownian motion, always a fascination of mine (and no, I'm NOT kidding), the marvels of the Fibonacci series, Superstring Theory, the Mobius strip, and Godel's Incompleteness Theorem.
My dilemma will be that while I want to hurry up and know everything in the book, I'm not going to want it to end. Anyone care to place a wager on how long this will be on my nightstand?
Anyway, see how well she knows me? THANK YOU, LYRIC! YOU ROCK!