February 10, 2005

What am I, Lewis Carroll?

Mark is too right (see the very end of his post) about Amazon.com's strange picture of my tastes. Because of one search I am typecast as a man interested solely in a strange, unholy, promiscuous mix of (i) sets and logic, of which I have enough; (ii) early 20th century children's novels, especially for young women, which I have never needed to know about at all; and (iii) postmodernist gender stuff I absolutely never read. The last time I visited the site, the welcoming message greeted me with a list of these books that it thought I might like (I color them blue for math, pink for children's novels, and lavender for gender studies; the green one is cognitive linguistics, also not in my sphere of competence, and I have no explanation for it):

1.Schaum's Outline of Logic
2.Basic Set Theory (Azriel Levy)
3.Axiomatic Set Theory (Paul Bernays)
4.Undoing Gender (Judith Butler)
5.Introduction to Logic and to the Methodology of Deductive Sciences (Alfred Tarski)
6.Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Elizabeth Grosz)
7.The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling)
8.The Swiss Family Robinson (Johann Wyss)
9.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
10.Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
11.Axiomatic Set Theory (Patrick Suppes)
12.Schaum's Outline of Group Theory
13.Schaum's Outline of General Topology
14.Schaum's Outline of Modern Abstract Algebra
15.Schaum's Outline of Discrete Mathematics
16.Cognitive Linguistics (William Croft)
17.Heidi (Johanna Spyri)

Please, Amazon! You don't know me! I have broad interests, really I do. I'm into Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon; maybe Snow Crash next), David Sedaris (Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim), Dan Brown (all right, I lied about Dan Brown), politics and philosophy (Sam Harris, The End of Faith; Daniel Dennett, Freedom Evolves), scientific biographies (Anita and Sol Feferman's new biography of Tarski; Anita's earlier biography of Van Heijenoort), literary biographies (Barbara Belford's Bram Stoker), earth sciences (Simon Winchester's Krakatoa), ecology (Jared Diamond's Collapse if Barbara will ever stop monopolizing it and let me get my hands on our copy)... books on computer science, rock 'n' roll, Oscar Wilde, economics, Unix, law, Coleridge, biology, ... Believe me! Why would I lie to you? I am not what you think! Axiomatic set theory and stories for little girls? What am I, Lewis Carroll or something?

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at February 10, 2005 01:17 PM