Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Alrightreads: Wonders

This was supposed to be a collection of (pop-)science books to make up for my non-fiction drought last year. That didn't last long.


Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

2008 / Audiobook / 554 pages / UK

****

Learning who these men and woman were was illuminating, but the most entertaining parts were the ballooning and the Tahitian travelogue. I should go back to some of those reckless colonial journals, they seem like a depressing hoot.

Audiobook narrator Gildart Jackson is a keeper, almost on the Stephen Thorne/Derek Jacobi level, except he hasn't done the compulsory turn in Doctor Who yet.


Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

1956 / E-book / 96 pages / USA

***

This is one of those books I never would have come across if I wasn't struggling to bulk out this flimsily connected reading batch, but that's one of the delights of doing this. Except when it's often not.

In this essay/proto-blog post/episode of the Patch Stop, the passionate author makes the straightforward case for exposing kids to nature and inspiring a lifelong appreciation for the everyday, even if you don't know your mosses from your lichens. Common-sense self-help that you already know, but like those people who never go outside to watch the humdrum meteor shower and only realise on their death bed that they probably should have bothered sometimes, it's a useful reminder.


Geraldine Brooks, Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

2001 / Audiobook / 400 pages / UK

***

I like a nice rustic historical from time to time. They don't have to involve monumental suffering, but that's usually how it goes.

The best thing about this pretend first-hand account of the Black Death is the author's eye (and nose) for detail. The worst is that she doesn't bother writing in an archaic style to help us pretend it's anything other than pretend. Presumably she didn't want to put off her readers and jeopardise her success, the wuss.


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