I haven’t done as much reading this summer as I normally do, but have read a couple of short gems:
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
The cover flap says “All the beauty of modern physics in fewer than a hundred pages” and that is essentially true. It was on Amazon’s best seller list for 65 weeks, and it is what it advertises–a primer on seven key ideas in modern physics, but it is also philosophical in its discussion of consciousness and the necessity of faith to do science. The author covers general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in all of it. Best of all, it is written for laymen, but I will admit that I will need a second read to fully grasp some of it.
The Hellenistic Age by Peter Thonemann
This is an interesting little volume of less than 150 pages covering the approximately three centuries of Greek and Macedonian expansion into Central Asia and the Middle East following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, which has become known as the Hellenistic Age and which ended with the victory of Octavian over Mark Antony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC soon followed by the death of Cleopatra and the Roman conquest of Egypt. It’s all here in a very concise way, from the constant wars among the successors to Alexander, to the migrations of colonists, settlers, and occupiers who carried Greek culture and trade to most of the then civilized world, to the archives of the Library of Alexandria and the lifestyles, habits, and politics of the populace. Important history that continues to resonate after two millennia.