I did some book shopping in Paris. A bit silly, in these days of www.amazon.fr, but old habits die hard. And FNAC is still pretty cool, though not quite as impressive to me now as it was the first time I set foot in it.

I bought most of Bruno Latour‘s books that hadn’t been translated into English, some comic books (standards: Tintin and Asterix), a few Barbapapa books for Miranda, and SGA1. I felt a little silly about the comic books, not about the ones I did buy (they are both deservedly classic series) but because I didn’t look for anything else: France is one of the great comic book-producing nations, and I walked by several good-looking stores, but I just wasn’t in a very inquisitive mood, I guess.

The new printed version of SGA1 turned out to be the same version that’s available online. Still, it’s nice to have a copy that’s easy to hold in your hand. Who knows when I’ll get around to reading it, but I suspect I will at some point over the next year or two (more likely it than some of the more experimental Bruno Latour books); I think/hope it should be at a level that I can read it without excessive effort, and it’s an important part of mathematical history. I don’t want to lose contact with math entirely, after all, and reading classic works seems like a good way to keep my brain active.

The whole Grothendieck reprint story has to be seen as a victory for the forces of good. I spent some time this weekend reading Free Culture, by Lawrence Lessig, and now I’m really depressed, but it’s great to see some people saying that the current situation is ridiculous and snubbing some of its more odious aspects.

The technical bookstore that I patronized seven years ago seems to have disappeared, more’s the pity. But it remains the case that general-purpose bookstores in Europe have much better math sections than their counterparts in the US. I’m not sure why that is, but I’m not complaining. It was fun browsing; a lot of familiar titles, and some new titles on familiar subjects. Nothing new and exciting that leapt out at me; in a decade or two, maybe I’ll go back and catch up on some of the advances in the field. Probably not, to be honest, but who knows what the future would bring; I’ve enjoyed spending the last two or three years catching up with (some of) the advances in computer science that I missed over the previous seven or eight years, after all.

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