We asked Roger Weaving, a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board, about what he’s reading.
I listen to books on my way to a day job as a chemical importer in Great Neck. Lately I’ve been working my way through Preston & Child’s Special Agent Pendergast books. I just finished Blue Sapphire. Pendergast is a Sherlock-Holmesesque figure with acute observational skills. The novels often center around deaths that appear supernatural but are eventually revealed to be by scientific means. Several of the novels are centered on the Museum of Natural History in NY, where Preston was a PR writer; it gives you a peek into its inner workings. Many of the novels can be read independently but some need to be read in order. Two caveats: some of the murders are particularly gruesome, and the writing style gets much better after the first two, so if you read them in order, stick with them!Most of my favorite novels are science fiction; I started back in the day with the giants like Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, but a (slightly) more recent one I keep thinking about is Firestar by Michael Flynn. Written in 1996, it posits a time where the government has given upon space and the public schools generate apathy, and follows the efforts or one of the richest Americans (and a couple of others) who end up putting together private space programs. It was especially insightful when it comes to the political aspects of what it takes to generate public support for private space programs- which we are seeing play out now, 20+ years later, with SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin.I am also a sucker for space operas, and I can recommend the novels of Peter F. Hamilton. Big, dense, and complex, they are great on long overseas flights.Tthere aren’t a lot of good reads for chemistry or urban planning. For housing I have been reading the Town of Huntington’s Horizon 2020 report, which is the master plan written in 2008. With 2020 just around the corner, it seems like a good time to take stock on how the town is doing. It’s not a book, but a good way to get an idea of what the town can and can’t control is to play the video game Sim City. Especially in the early versions, you as town planner get to control infrastructure and zoning…and not much else, not unlike the folks who run the Town of Huntington. You don’t get to decide who moves into town or what they build (as long as they comply with zoning), and if you try to hold things static you find it never, ever works in your favor.For chemistry, “The Chemistry Book” by Derek Lowe is pretty good; it tells the stories of many of the basic discoveries in science, such as discoveries of the elements, and the creations of new classes of chemicals like thermite and pharmaceuticals. I’m told “Elements: A visual exploration of every known atom in the universe” by Theodore Gray is great, but I haven’t read it yet!
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