Loved Books: Graphic Discovery by Howard Wainer

A fascinatinglook  at graphs and diagrams from a historical and developmental perspective.

This was one of several books I bought on an Amazon buying binge. I had enough money to buy things that sounded cool and Amazon would just magically send them to me. A dangerous, dangerous combination for both my credit card and my book shelves.

Buying books this way is also a bit like playing the early levels of a video game again having leveled up your character to the max. It just becomes too easy to buy books and the excitement of finidng something weird and special in a bookshop becomes diminished.

[“A trout in the milk” is shorter version of the quote from Henry David Thoreau:

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

Industrial action had led to a milk shortage and fears that the available milk was being watered down. ]

4 thoughts on “Loved Books: Graphic Discovery by Howard Wainer

  1. I would love this book. There’s information manifested in ink on the page, but then there’s also knowledge to be extrapolated from what is not there. For example, no women’s life spans recorded/imaged here — why not? There were famous women in classical times and certainly known to enlightenment-era encyclopedie crowd. Would women’s spans be shorter or longer? How about the life spans of regular folk not just famous folk? And how interesting that humans lives are visualized as a flat line. What is the invisible bias of the data here, given that the “famous people” were selected by someone in 1765 and thus may vary from a list of famous people made in the BCE years themselves?

    Biography is a surprisingly new-ish word, most typically first use credited to Dryden’s Life of Plutarch (1673)

    I love books and rummaging in bookstores. You’re right, online binge purchasing has a certain energy, but it’s a totally different experience than finding something.

    Fun share, CF. Thanks.

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  2. Amazon buying is hunting — targeted, you know what you’re going to eat
    Bookstore rummaging is gathering — you wander where you know you’ll find something good, but serendipity plays a larger role.

    And of course hunting/Amazon gets all the attention.


    1. I’ve found Amazon’s search interface to be remarkably horrible and inaccurate, throwing up all sorts of random non-book crap and irrelevant book titles, even when I have a very specific search term. I am not a fan.

      I’ve heard there is some town in the UK that has been turned into nothing but shops of used books. Am I imagining that? I wonder which secret King’s Cross platform would take me there (or, more likely, one at Charing Cross)?


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