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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten
202 Jokes Of Nasreddin Hodja - Anonymous This book, which I picked up earlier this week in an Istanbul bookshop, isn't as good as Idries Shah's Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin. On the other hand, it did contain several stories I hadn't heard before. Here are a couple that seemed particularly apposite:

The Two Mosques

Nasreddin (his name can be spelled in a variety of ways) has a difficult personal problem, so he makes the pilgrimage to the capital city. He goes into the huge central mosque, and humbly asks Allah for guidance.

Absolutely nothing happens.

Nasreddin stubbornly continues to pray for a while, but in the end he gives up. He's on his way home and just about to leave the city when he sees another mosque, this time very small and unimpressive.

"Well," he thinks, "while I'm here, why don't I look at it?" He enters, and within a minute he suddenly knows the answer to his question.

He goes out again and looks at the huge central mosque in the distance, outlined majestically against the setting sun.

"You think you're so big and important!" says Nasreddin scornfully. "And you couldn't sort out my little problem!"

Bathroom Humor

Nasreddin happens to find himself alone in the bathhouse, so he takes the opportunity to sing a few ditties. He really likes the sound of his voice as it echoes off the marble walls.

"I didn't know I had such talent!" he says to himself. When he comes out, he immediately climbs the nearby minaret and starts reciting the call to prayer. He's terrible, and people beg him to stop.

"Well," says Nasreddin unrepentantly. "If you just took the trouble to build a marble bathroom up here, you'd be able to appreciate my real voice."