Never-ending Reading List

giphy

Latimer: I remember a while back I did a post about how I was struggling through a long read list – well, not struggling, because I like having a lot of books to read, but sometimes when you find yourself buying more than you’re reading you do feel like giving yourself a kick in the brain!

Back then, I had been reading (on and off) Bill Bryson’s At Home; I am so happy to say I finished reading it before 2013 ran out! Yes, the never-ending reading list is getting just a little bit shorter!

51gcPpk+hmL

It really sickens me how long it took me to read such a great book. Bill Bryson has to be one of the best authors; I’ve only read two of his books, but they have both been so amazing (and they both took me forever to read). There’s just so much information in his books and so many funny, strange and sad stories, that you find yourself stopping to digest what you just read and staring into space shaking your head!

This is a small example; in At Home, I read about roof rats. Yup. Now every time I hear something skittering across the attic floor, I no longer think ‘birds’, I think… ‘roof rats’. No one else is buying what I’m selling, but in Bryson I trust, so yup… roof rats.

giphy (2)

Apparently the modern home is a great environment for the roof rat. And the behaviour of the modern rat – wooh, it’s scary. They show no fear, ‘and will even deliberately approach and make contact with motionless persons. They are particularly emboldened in the presence of infants and the elderly’ (neither of which I am, so I’m fist punching the air, shouting “do you hear that roof rats! Fear me!”)

‘Rats have very sharp teeth and can become aggressive if cornered’ (won’t be doing that so!) ‘biting savagely and blindly, in the manner of mad dogs’ (holy moly!) ‘A motivated rat can leap as high as three feet’. Then they are also very, very smart; there was an incident where rats were stealing eggs from a farmer without breaking them (which even now as I type sounds like a cartoon); the rats worked together, where one rat would embrace an egg on all fours and roll over onto its back, and a second rat would then drag it by its tail to their burrow.

This image has stayed with me since I read the book. And there’s so much more in the book, that I kind of feel like I will have to re-read it a lot to remember most of it. But it’s such a good book.

I don’t have much of a feel for ‘special interest’ books. I just read what I’d like to know about; there are a few people though who seem to have a gift for reading really interesting sounding books.

I’m addicted to Smodcast, and Kevin Smith’s friend, Scott Mosier, reads some really interesting books! He’s always reading something and he mentions books so often that someone put together a list.

If you are looking for something out of the ordinary (maybe!); check out the list of books he’s mentioned! There’s some really interesting ones! http://smodbooks.wordpress.com/page/3/

I think my reading list is always going to be never-ending… 🙂

Advertisements

Quite Interesting

tumblr_mdfxcmQhHL1rcw9nuo1_500

Latimer: Lately I’ve been trying to get my ‘reading groove’ back on. Yup, it was gone for a while.

For me, the serious ‘groove’ comes on a little randomly – the urge to read more and more and MORE books!

My problem is, I buy too many books, then don’t get around to reading them. I have a serious backlog of books.

There are more.... there's always more; like Highlander

There are more…. there’s always more; like Highlander

Like you would not believe – and yes, I have since ordered more! I don’t learn, but I have decided that I will stop buying and clear the backlog in the lead up to Christmas.

(she says, but this turned up on her doorstep today!)

20131008_185827

His name is Clod Iremonger, and he is an Iremonger… HOW CAN I NOT READ THIS? I’m so intrigued…. I have a problem!

Ridley, I know, has a similar reading backlog, which I aim to make worse for her, because I have a bag of seven books for her (that she must read)! Ha 🙂

Now though, I am accountable, because I’ve put this in writing – ‘I will clear my reading backlog!’ – I will succeed! If you have a backlog, join me in my crusade of reading-before-buying-more! How is this going to end for me? Not well I don’t think.

But seriously, I have started to make an… effort.

Like I finally finished Qi: The Book of the Dead by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson (and it was brilliant)

1368634833deadpb

and I’m going to finish Bill Bryson’s At Home, which I have been reading on and off again for too long! (Bill Bryson’s books are fantastic really, but take forever to read!)

220px-At_Home-_A_Short_History_of_Private_Life

I vow to finish this one before the end of October (oh, what have I done!).

When I finished The Book of the Dead a dam broke inside me and I felt inspired to get out and read all my poor abandoned books, because they’re all full of interesting things 🙂

The Book of the Dead is a book filled with brief stories about lots of different people, people you know like Thomas Edison and Casanova, to people you don’t like, Moll Cutpurse, a bear-baiting cross-dressing pickpocket and James Barry, a famous doctor in the early 1800s, who gave Florence Nightingale the worst dressing-down of her life, and … oh yea and he was actually a woman (though no one found out until she died!).

It has to be one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a while.

I got emotionally caught up in peoples stories; like Nikola Tesla.

“If-you-wish-to-understand-the-Universe-think-of-energy-frequency-and-vibration.”-Nikola-Tesla

He invented the radio (although Marconi was awarded the honour and won a Nobel Prize for it).

Tesla was known as the ‘Father of the 20th Century’ and the master of electricity (more so than Edison). He was inventing things that were light-years ahead of his time; he even foresaw/wanted to make the internet – the man was a genius.

And he died in debt with no money, living with crippling OCD, though he should have been a millionaire.

But I came to realise that for some people, it isn’t about what their knowledge can give them, what monetary rewards, some people are just driven to answer questions and solve problems, because that’s where they get their joy.

Tesla’s business partner George Westinghouse was in financial ruin after a stock market crash, so Tesla dissolved the contract between them that was costing Westinghouse so much. He said;

‘You have been my friend, you believed in me when others had no faith; you were brave enough to go ahead… when others lacked courage; you supported me when even your own engineers lacked vision… you have stood by me as a friend… Here is your contract, and here is my contract. I will tear both of them to pieces, and you will no longer have any troubles from my royalties. Is that sufficient?’

It’s pretty special, and wonderful, that a person, who stood to gain 12 million dollars from those royalties, which would have made him one of the richest men in the world at that time, would do something so noble as to brush it all aside to help a friend.

Imagine that. It makes me feel pretty good about the world; we can be so good to one another sometimes.  

The book also taught me that real genius is a rare and beautiful thing; and if you haven’t shown a spark by the age of 10, kiss the notion goodbye! Ha. Reading the stories, I’d have to pause and stare into the distance thinking; ‘yup, that ship’s sailed!’

Dr John Dee, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most trusted advisors, would spend 18 hours studying everyday; 4 hours sleeping and 2 hours were set aside for meals. I can’t do that!

JohnDeeElizabethI

He was the original 007 too. He used to sign his letters to the queen ‘007’; it was a symbol that meant he was the Queen’s eyes, or that the letter was for her eyes only.

That's Dee, Mr Dee... Mystery? Ha.

That’s Dee, Mr Dee… Mystery? Ha.

Dee was known for his mysticism but actually he was a man of science too (though the word ‘science’ didn’t exist at the time and was essentially known as witchcraft). He used geometry to successfully map the globe and was the greatest book-collector of his day (with books on mathematics, earthquakes, dreams, women, Islam, games, botany, pharmacology and veterinary science, to name a few).

By the end of his life, plague had stolen almost all of his family away from him and he lived in desperate poverty (he fell out of favour with the Queen), with his daughter Katherine, having to sell his books one at a time so he could eat (he was 82 years old).

Now that really breaks my heart.

But the beautiful thing is, a girl who lived in the area described him as…

‘He was a great peacemaker; if any of the neighbours fell out, he would never let them alone till he had made them friends. A mighty good man he was.’

Again the survival of a few kind words about a good person, from a good person, it makes you feel pretty good again.

There’s something really up-lifting about this book. It does make you feel like you haven’t had much of an adventure yet, or you’re not very smart and never will be, but it also makes you feel like isn’t it great how many weird and wonderful people there have been in the world?

We’re silly and vain, stupid and clever, wacky and weird, and we always have been, and that’s pretty great 🙂