What bookshelves are good for

Serendipitous re-discovery.

I come from a bookish family. My folks have an extensive collection of Russian novels, nonfiction about Native Americans, and miscellaneous fiction. Remind me to tell you about My Search for Warren G. Harding at some point. Brilliant. Anyway it’s normal to me to have a room or three full of bookshelves, loaded up with books. Even if you look at them only infrequently.

In fact, I have apparently not looked at parts of my library shelf in any detail for quite a long time. Because I just accidentally re-discovered two books I had completely forgotten, both of which fit fabulously into blog themes like chess and brain exercise.

First: Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, by Raymond Smullyan. Retrograde analysis problems in an entertaining Holmesian framework. (Retrograde analysis means you’re given a position and you have to figure out the preceding moves.)

Second: Keep Your Brain Alive by Katz and Rubin. I had no idea I owned such a book. “83 Neurobic Exercises”, some as simple as brushing your teeth with your off-hand. Point being that it’s the unexpected, not the routine, that keeps your synapses on their toes. (Did I not just promise you mixed metaphors?)

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4 thoughts on “What bookshelves are good for

  1. i and my wife LOVE books. we have bookshelves and books in EVERY room (except bathroom, there are just books there, no shelves). i’ve seen that sherlock holmes book, thought about getting it, it looks cool.

  2. The funny part is that Smullyan (who is or was a law prof at Indiana U) says right up front that he has no interest in chess as a competitive game. He just likes it as a logic system. I’m sort of the opposite. I don’t have any interest in chess problems as a rule (not the abstract, “non-realistic” positions) or retrograde analysis from a chess POV. But as brainteasers these are brilliant.

    p.s. Thanks for entertaining me during my blogging hiatus. Fun and interesting stuff as always on your blog.

  3. I have Smullyan’s other book, Chess Mysteries of the Arabian Knights, collecting dust on my shelf. I agree with Derek — the puzzles are interesting in the way that any logic puzzles are interesting, but it does not hold my interest as a chess player. In fact, the problems have about as much to do with chess as a game in which you try to stack all 32 pieces atop one another Jenga-style; that is, not much at all.

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