The Transfiguration of the Commonplace
criterion in observation and comparison for stating that one of them is real and the other not.” How can we talk about a work of art without asking what it is? I love this.
by Edward Tufte (Graphics Press, $32). Tufte, a data scientist, transformed the way I see the world: A simple railway timetable can be a source of joy or outrage, because, as Tufte writes, “Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”
by Italo Calvino (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $15). Marco Polo sits in a garden with an aging Kublai Khan and describes 55 imaginary cities, each organized on fantastic principles. Calvino’s novel conjures a radically different America, an America where we could choose the social experiment that suits us best.
by Russell Hoban (Indiana Univ., $18). The underrated equal of T.S. Eliot’s Hoban’s 1980 novel presents a postapocalyptic world where forgotten science is fetishized and spoken of in mythic terms.