Reader's Digest - 2010 books 7-10

I've done a lot of reading since I last updated my reading (b)log, so I thought I'd do a quick catch up.

I blew through books 2 and 3 in the Alexander McCall Smith No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series. Books 2 and 3, entitled Tears of the Giraffe, and Morality for Beautiful Girls, respectively, were the laid back but well-written reads I expected them to be. The only issue I have with this series, and most series, to be honest, is the need to repeat certain language and points in every book. This feature of the series novel reminds me of the television drama, where you are forced to see the 'Last time on____' bit in the beginning. The repetition gets a bit old, but I understand that it is somewhat needed in order to inform and hook readers who may be picking up a series in the middle. My annoyance with this, however, it minimal, and in no way discourages me from continuing to read these books - they're a nice compliment to more challenging reads.

My big read the last month was Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes.

I took my time with this book because it was chocked full of information, and wonderful footnotes. Age of Wonder chronicles the period of Romantic scientific discovery, spanning from Joseph Banks's explorations of Tahiti, to the first human flight in balloons, to the revolutionizing of astronomy by the Herschels and their vastly improved telescopes, all the way on to Davy changing (almost inventing) the role of the career scientist with his activities in chemistry research. The book's timeline is roughly bound together by tying the careers of several prominent European (though mainly UK) scientists to the life and work of Banks with the Royal Society from the late 18th to early 19th century. This fascinating read sets the stage for readers to conduct further readings into the influences of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries by illustrating how the Romantic generation prepared the world to the further scientific revolutions to come.
What struck me most about this book was how rapidly the world was turned upside down by things we now take for granted: flight, harnessing electricity, the discovery of fundamental elements and the dispelling of the idea of 4 essential elemental forces in the world, toying with concepts of human energy/soul/reanimation. This petri dish of inquiring minds not only brought forth the Darwins, it also created the Shelleys and their Frankensteins. Scientific concepts we now take for granted were once exciting, bold, and, very often, the subject of much fear. This is an accessible (though a bit long) read for the lay; not at all full of jargon. I definitely would recommend.

The final book I finished for this installment was Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan. I can't say I formed a definite opinion of this book. It was engaging enough that I blew through it in a day, but I can't say if I liked or disliked it. It was just a decent quick read. The premise is the telling of a series of events that took place in the rural south in post World War Two America from various different characters' view points. This was a well-written piece, but sadly a bit predictable, considering the subject matter. I went in expecting to be shocked and a little depressed, and it did happen, despite the author's attempt to make some of the ending a bit more positive.

Now, on to the next!

No comments: