A Brief Review Of James Gleick’s Isaac Newton
Nick and I spent Thanksgiving in Nashville, and rather than learn anything about country music, we went to five bookstores. We also went to the Parthenon. I bet you didn’t know that Nashville has a full-size replica of the Parthenon with a 42-foot tall re-creation of the statue of Athena, did you?
I didn’t. But we went to see it. It was pretty amazing.
But, back to books. We went to five bookstores – Bookman/Bookwoman, Elder’s, Parnassus, Rhino, and McKay’s. I have a longer post to write about bookstores, and I will eventually get around to that. You should know that Elder’s is a truly evil place and that I had to create a Yelp account in order to write my very first Yelp review. They got a one-star review because I had to give them at least one-star, but they deserve negative stars. I cannot even believe that a negative star bookstore exists, but it does.
At McKay’s, I found James Gleick’s biography of Isaac Newton. I was trying to see how many biographies I could find for under $1.00, but I think I spent more than that on this one. It’s a slim, hardback book with a plain white cover that has a mysterious red dot on it.
I took it into atmology, a cute hippie coffee shop and cafe, to read during lunch. But, we ran out of time, since we needed to make it to the Parthenon before it closed.
So, I found myself reading Isaac Newton at Bound’ry, a chic restaurant and bar with wine bottles priced up to $350. Nick and I sat at the bar for several hours drinking and eating delicous things that cost less than $350. I think Nick was reading 1421: The Year China Discovered America. After the first chapter or two of Newton, I told Nick that I was going to have to stay up and finish the book that evening.
We really did sit at the bar for several hours reading. I’m sure people thought we were crazy. It was the epitome of geekiness. College football was on. I remember looking up at the TV above the bar at one point wondering why it seemed so odd. Then, I realized that I hadn’t seen anything on television in months due to the fact that we don’t own a TV.
I wasn’t quite finished with the book when we got back to the hotel. I suck at reading in bed. When I get into bed, my brain tells me to sleep. Nick can stay in bed and read for hours. I can get in 10 minutes of reading on a good night, and then I pass out. So, I didn’t finish the book that evening, but I woke up and finished it right away the next morning.
Gleick’s writing is wonderful. The book reads like a novel, and it’s a novel you don’t want to put down.
Even if you know about gravity and calculus, I guarantee that this book will tell you a lot about Isaac Newton that you would never learn otherwise. Be glad that Edmond Halley existed. Without him, we’d have a comet with a different name, and some of Newton’s most important work might never have come to light.
Heresy, alchemy, insanity… this book has it all.
I’m too tired to tell you more, so just buy it. I’m a bit obsessed with books, but it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to finish a book as soon as humanly possible. This is one of those books that’s worth your time.