And here’s part 2. Another mix of academic and non-academic.

Your Memory: How It Works & How to Improve It, Kenneth L. Higbee

  • Higbee is a Brigham Young U psychologist who pioneered a college course on memory improvement. Part crash course in memory theory and part crash course into practical mnemotechniques, I’m interested in this book specifically because it’s what I don’t want my scholarship to be. I’m not interested in arguing that we should all be trained in mnemotechniques but to get us to rethink the role of memory in what we do and to recognize mnemonic practices as mnemonic practices so that we can actively engage them as memoria. No one needs to be told that the peg mnemonic and link stories are mnemonic practices and people like Higbee are far more qualified in teaching you how to learn and apply them.
  • This isn’t to say that I’m not looking for connections between practical mnemotechniques and what I’m focusing on. I am, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m reading this book. I’m also reading this book because I got interested in memory because mine is so bad. Long, long ago, anting to improve my memory, l asked someone if they could recommend a book on memory improvement. They told me that Mary Carruthers’ The Book of Memory had a translation of a memory treatise I might find interesting. While it didn’t give me the advice I needed to improve my memory, I got much more out of it than either of us could have imagined. Any way, part of the reason I’m reading Your Memory is that I’m still hoping to improve my memory.

Pump Six and Other Stories, Paolo Bagigalupi

  • A collection of eleven Bagigalupi stories that contains “The Calorie Man” and “The Yellow Card Man,” stories I mention in my earlier discussion of The Windup Girl. Having read two and one of Bagigalupi’s novels, I’m looking forward to this collection.
  • As I mention in my earlier post, while the book is out of print until this fall, you can buy an electronic version in a wide number of formats.

The Secret History of Science Fiction, Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

  • A couple of stories I’ve read before and a large number of stories I have not. The goal of this collection is to present sf stories that call into question the sf/mainstream fiction divide. The collection is, in part, a response to Jonathan Lethem’s June 1998 Village Voice essay “Close Encounters: The Squandered Promise of Science Fiction.” The collection begins with two epigraphs, one from Gene Wolfe: “Realistic fiction leaves out far, far too much. How old is realistic fiction? How old is fantasy?”
  • This issue is also taken up by Tom Shippey from time to time, such as in the introduction to J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, Tom Shippey, as part of his discussion of the high literature (Bloomsbury modernism) vs. popular genre fiction (Tolkien, Lewis, etc.), he quotes a publisher who stated that only fantasy is mainstream and that everything else is genre. Shippey’s discussion is in response to the British literati panicking when The Lord of the Rings won the top place in Waterstone’s Book of the Century poll. Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm took second and third place with Joyce’s Ulysses coming in fourth. We in America often don’t know just how vicious or deep the Bloomsbury modernism vs. Tolkien/Lewis divide was. As Shippey explains, Tolkien and Lewis lost the Oxbridge academic wars, but they won the heart of the reading public.

The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross / The Laundry RPG, Gareth Hanrahan, Jason Durall, and John Snead

  • Long-time readers know that Charles Stross is one of my favorite authors and know that his Laundry series holds a special place in my heart. July 6 brings the latest installment in the adventures of Bob Howard.
  • As I explain in my earlier post on The Laundry RPG (see the “Laundry series” link in the bullet point above), while I don’t role-play any more—although I want to get back into it, anyone interested in trying to do a skype/Google Wave/other online communication technology to do some RPGing?—I do on occasion still buy role-playing games/rule books to read for fun. This is mostly limited to Ars Magica material, but I’m going to make an exception for this. (Back when I was playing Ars Magica, John Nephew, President of Ars Magica‘s publisher, mentioned on an email discussion list that he stops work and heads to a coffee shop when the new issue of Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America, shows up at the office.)

Digital Literacy for Technical Communication: 21st Century Theory and Practice, Ed. Rachel Spilka

  • I’m teaching the introductory technical communication class this fall, the first time I’ve taught one in a number of years, and on the horizon is some work on defining technological literacy as awareness (a McLuhanesque approach that emerged as I wrote my technological literacy autobiography), so this book fulfills a couple of academic needs.