Recent books of note |

Recent books of note

“Lists of Note: An Eclectic Collection Deserving of a Wider Audience” (Chronicle Books) compiled by Shaun Usher is exactly what the title promises. More than 125 entries, culled from well-known and unknown contributors, and spanning several centuries, from ancient Egypt to just a couple of years ago.

There’s wish lists, to-do lists, shopping lists and tables of contents as well as lists ranking the importance of things. The editor of the volume notes that life is chaotic (as well know too well) and the making of lists can help to manage and direct our paths through the confusion.

Some of the more well-known list makers include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Marilyn Monroe, Gene Autry, Jack Kerouac, Johnny Cash, Queen Elizabeth, Sid Vicious, Thomas Edison and Tiny Fey.

We also get Galileo’s shopping list of what he might need to build a telescope, a list of potential murder suspects compiled by John F. Kennedy’s secretary just few hours after his assassination, Picasso’s lists of what artists should be included in the 1913 Armory show, Thelonius Monk’s notations on how “you’ve got to dig it, to dig it, you dig?” Francis Ford Coppola’s list of possible cast members for “The Godfather” before production began and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s list of turkey recipes.

Many of the hand-written lists are reproduced in facsimile and/or accompanied by artwork and doodles and historical and cultural commentary on the various lists is woven throughout the volume. All of this makes for a coffee table tome that makes for irresistible browsing.

James Gleick is the author of several thought-provoking books including “Chaos: The Making of a New Science,” which introduced that theory to readers around the world.

His most recent book is “Time Travel: A History” (Pantheon Books). Gleick is a nimble historian of ideas and here he traces notions of the theory of being able to move through time beginning with H.G. Wells’ 1895 novel “The Time Machine.”

He traces the evolution of the concept through the often over-lapping dimensions of literature and science. People he touches on along the way include Marcel Proust, Woody Allen and Doctor Who, finally arriving at our present ever-more-wired together moment. It’s fascinating trip and Gleick is an insightful tour guide.

Speaking of time and making lists, one thing you’ll want to add to your should-do list is the Churchill Arts Council’s upcoming fundraising dinner and silent auction, “An Evening with the Arts,” on March 4.

Tickets are $80 per person and include a steak and lobster dinner catered by the Slanted Porch, wine and admission to the auction and for $90 per person you’ll receive an additional $20 worth of raffle tickets. This year’s theme is “A Steampunk Evening” and appropriate attire is encouraged. For tickets or to reserve your table of 8 or 10, call CAC at 775-423-1440.

Kirk Robertson covers the arts and may be reached at