It's getting to the point where it's AWFUL to end a book because I don't want to have to choose another one. Weird. I don't know if it's my goals that are the problem or not; I tend to think not because they narrow the field. If I had no guidelines at all I'd really be up a creek.
The only thing I was sure about was that I wanted something on my Kindle. I really (REALLY) prefer to read on this thing. I have the Kindle Fire which is back-lit, so I don't have to worry about having a book light. With a "real book" I have to fiddle with that in bed and I just don't like doing that. I've read nine books based on friends' recommendations, so I figured I'd read one more and be able to check that goal off as completed.
The book I just finished, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, was quite good. I was embarrassingly ignorant about what Galileo accomplished: for about a third of the book I kept waiting for him to whip out his paints to start The Last Supper or The Mona Lisa. (That's Leonardo da Vinci --I was getting my Italian geniuses mixed up. Shame on me.)
The title of the book is somewhat misleading because it's about 90% Galileo, 10% his daughter. The book is a somewhat brief biography of Galileo supplemented with letters written to him by his daughter, Suor Maria Celeste, a cloistered nun. There is a great deal of focus on what is known as The Galileo Affair -- when he was brought before the Inquisition, found "vehemently suspected of heresy," and sentenced to house arrest where he remained for the rest of his life.
The book paints a pretty good picture of Galileo, especially when you consider that the man lived four hundred years ago. He would fit in today, I think -- and I would like him very much. He was a man of great faith and never felt that any of his discoveries or hypotheses contradicted his faith. It pained him to think that his work -- banned by the Roman church -- would be forgotten. Of course, even in his own time he was celebrated and his works were published and re-published outside of Italy, where the long arm of the church could not reach. He was recognized as a genius in his day, but the book brings you down to the day-to-day concerns of a man for his children, extended family, students, patrons, fellow scientists, etc.
Anyway, Galileo had three children: two daughters and a son. He never married their mother, so he believed the girls to be unmarriageable and put them in a convent when they were quite young. When they reached the appropriate age (sixteen) they took the veil and stayed behind the convent walls for the rest of their lives. The oldest daughter, Suor Maria Celeste (born "Virginia") is the title figure. She was brilliant, faithful, and a great support to her father. She helped him in his work by transcribing his books and when he was under house arrest in Siena she took care of his household accounts -- while never leaving the convent, which she could not do. A few months before she died Galileo was allowed to come back to Arcetri, where he lived in a house just a stone's throw from his daughter's convent. She died of dysentery not long after he returned.
Anyway -- good book, I feel a little smarter about Galileo now, I'm one step closer to finished my goal of reading ten books recommended by friends. For the final book I chose a fairly long one. I violated my principle of not paying more for a Kindle book than a "real book," but I finally broke down because the two bucks is worth it to me. I'm going to be reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It's set in India in 1975. It's pretty long, which will save me from having to pick another book too soon. ;)