Sunday, December 23, 2007

Vacation Reading

I’m reading A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronautsby Andrew Chaikin, the inspiration for Tom Hanks’ great HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moonwhich I bought on DVD a year or so ago. I’m surprised I hadn’t read it before but there you go – I read a lot of books but there are just so many out there. I’m also browsing through a couple of astronomy books, An Intimate Look at the Night Skyand The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimageby Chet Raymo. Raymo is a really good writer on astronomy and nature. I’m on vacation until January 2, mostly hanging around at home, and I’m hoping to get to another couple of books on the ever-growing stack including the latest Arkady Renko novel, Wolves Eat Dogsby Martin Cruz Smith. I’m also revisiting some of my musical favorites from my classical period in the 1980’s (I missed most of the pop music from the 80’s, which I realize now was not such a bad thing!). Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Pastoral Symphony and Mozart's "Dissonance" String Quartet, among others.

Reading is probably my most persistent habit, and one that I’m happy I acquired as a kid. Books about the Apollo program (Chaikin) and the night sky (Raymo) are comfort food for my brain, I guess. It’s relaxing to revisit such familiar territories, and there are always new things to learn, new perspectives on old knowledge, and even emotional connections, like thinking again about the reading of the opening lines of Genesis by the Apollo 8 crew orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve 1968. I’m certainly not religious, but the Bible is obviously an important part of mankind’s literary and cultural heritage. Reading those words underlined that whatever the technology involved, and despite the fact that this was an American project in the context of the Cold War, that space exploration is ultimately a human endeavor.

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