Shock Doctrine

This read like an essay for the most part so no easy reading. However, it was incredibly interesting in parts and quite depressing to be honest. Certainly written from a very left wing perspective and bias but the content is pretty undeniable and scary. 

Interestingly the events of the last decade seem to have followed on from where they left off when she wrote this and we are living through a ‘shock’ at the moment. Much more wary now of the vultures circling in the wake of covid. 

The Map that Changed the World

This is a book about rocks. There’s no two ways about it. As such, it can be a bit dull in places. The author, well-renowned as he is, does get a bit carried away with the rocks every now and again which if I’m honest was a slight struggle. However, I realise that without the rocks, there isn’t a book here. Surrounding these passages is an interesting biographical journey set in the early 1800s which I always find interesting. I would say there is a slow patch in the middle of the book but it finishes strongly. Not for everyone, but not the worst book in the world. 

Improbable Destinies

This was really good. I was a bit concerned that it would be just another book about evolution about which I know a reasonable amount. However, it actually explores in reasonable detail the questions as to whether evolution is convergent (the phenomenon in which creatures will evolve simialr solutions or exactly the same solutions to selection pressures independently). Lots of detail about various studies and research projects which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the author knows how to write in an accessible and light hearted manner so it’s not too dry. 

I liked it. 

The Making of Mr Gray’s Anatomy

This has been on the shelf for a while but the moment felt right to read it. The book itself is lovingly presented. It feels premium and special. Unfortunately the actual written contents left me really struggling. For a start, the subject was based upon an enormous amount of conjecture and guess work, as the author herself freely admits. This made it feel immediately as if I was wasting my time a bit. 

Although the general feel of the time and the world in which the key players lived interests me, it was presented in such a dry manner that I got bored very quickly. So much unecessary detail – at one point, she spends about three pages just listing books published by the publishing company at the centre of it all. It reads like an essay overall. The author may be lovely and it remains entirely possible that she is an incredible entertainer, but on this evidence, I would certainly choose to sit as far away from her as possible if we were attending the same dinner party. 

Avoid unless you just want your bookcase to look nice. 

Chernobyl

I have had this book on my shelf for well over a year I think and there never seemed a good time to pick it up and read it. It looks potentially a bit boring. It is, however, not so. Extremely readable and, though very detailed, it is written in such a way that is does not become a trial to plough through. I had specifically avoided watching the tv series, which I feel like everyone in the world has watched, until I read this. I suspect the tv series will be even better now I have a bit of background to it. 

Mudlarking

Much like some of the finds that the author writes of, this book is a rare gem (I don’t think she actually ever finds a ‘gem’ as such but you know what I mean). An interesting topic brilliantly transformed into a varied and digestible history of London and the Thames itself. The title may sound boring but the book is genuinely interesting!

Deep sea and Foreign Going

An interesting peek into a world about which I know little. Not sure it is truly as revealing as it might be and it certainly isn’t the best book I have ever read. It reads a bit like a newspaper article or magazine feature. Not bad but not amazing. And what a random mouthful of a title. 

Endeavour

This is a superb historical account covering one of my favourite subjects – exploration of an unknown world. It is a brilliantly written book although it does jump around a bit. Broader in scope than I thought it was going to be as it deals with a lot of social philosophy of the time rather than just a blow by blow account of one voyage. I preferred Erebus I think, but this is still great. 

Piano Notes

This book was leant to me by my piano teacher. It’s written by a big time concert pianist and is interesting if not highly specialised. It goes into the intracicies and subtlties of classical piano music in such detail that it can only be truly appreciated by someone immersed fully in that world. But as someone interested in music of all types, the parts on the ways in which we appreciate music and interpret it were very good. Not for everyone this one.