I had some serious issues with rewriting this entry over and over for no reason, just because I could not decide what I want to write about (and also, meanwhile, I’ve needed some time for me and my latest musical addiction). At times like this Jayne Cobb comes to me, speaking words of wisdom.
Therefore I decided to do the [right] thing promised and write something about books I’ve read during my Christmas-New Year break.
Oh Myyy! by George Takei
There are two types of books I read with my smartphone on my way to work or Uni. The ones I call “time-eaters”, which are perfect for long waiting for the bus to come and avoid social interaction. There is also the second type, which are books that I just cannot get enough of at the time. I think Oh Myyy! evolved from the type one to type two on its way, because, honestly I did not know what to expect.
I hadn’t had a great knowledge of George Takei before I read this book. I’ve only knew that he was at Star Trek, he is an icon of LGBT community (only because I catched this one on Conan) and that he is a very funny person – I mean, judging on his FB profile. I think Facebook was a point of reference good enough, because the most of the book is focused on social media anyway. The fun comes with the realization, that social media are indeed a part of our daily lives, whenever you are an average user or an actor with thousands of likes on your fanpage.
That’s true, if you do happen to be the one who keeps any kind of fanpage or fanbase, be it huge or little, there are many things which you can find in this book interesting, “this” moments or just purely useful. If you are a fan of any celebrity and you follow them on Twitter/FB/Instagram… well, basically anywhere, the book gives you perspective on how the interaction looks like from the idol’s point of view. On the other level, let’s say that you do not have much in common with social media at all – it is still a good book, telling a story of this man’s life on the Internet and how to deal with it anyway. Well, yes, it can be a little encouraging to get on the social side of the Internet, but at the same time it shows how much importance should be put by users on keeping the distance and holding your horses before you really try to write something stupid in the comment section.
Picnic With Einstein (?) by Ben Miller
First, I want to say, I read this book in Polish and I came to great lengths to get any info about the original title of this book, but I failed, so if any of you do know what is the name of this book in original edition, please do not hesitate to contact me and correct me.
Trust me, I never knew I was a popular science reader until one year my parents got a book for free with their subscription for a science magazine. It was about genetics and just when I read it somehow all the things got clear. I mean, of course, I loved Terry Deary when I was little, but I never followed the natural sciences track in literature on my way to adulthood. Popular science books always seemed boring and too complicated for me, but as it seems, they can be pretty fun, as one can see by reading Picnic With Einstein.
I wish I could say something about any specific theory that tackled my mind while reading this book, but, honestly, the best thing that I remember, and of which I can say gives a quite good outlook on the way this book is written, is a story of the author, who was once invited by Gordon Ramsey to his cooking show. Miller wanted to make a cake and when he made it before the show it came out perfect, but each and every time he was making the cake again, the outcome was different.
Nothing unexpected, you would say, right? However, all the scientific issues brought around the problem made an impression on me. I myself am quite a good cook and adding some scientific thinking to what was the problem of the cake broaden my horizons in a way I did not consider before.
More or less, this is how this book feels like. I think the more adaptable the problems are for the reader, the better the effect is. Though, it may be the case of a lot of popular science books now, until they happen to piss me off, which is clearly the case of the next book.
The Clockwork Universe by Edward Dolnick
If you are a fan of popular science books in my country, or should your parents be science geeks like mine, you are probably acquainted with those editions with black covers with really poor graphics. I understand buying the cover graphics can be expensive and, besides, it is really not the most important part of the book – an important one, but not the most. Still, when I searched for this book on Goodreads… One cannot unsee the difference between this (original) andthat.
Enough about the problems with printing different editions of one book, because it was not my biggest problem with this book, although I really enjoyed reading The Clockwork Universe. The problem that hunted me for the whole time of reading was that all that was given in the book, about scientists of 17th Century, their life choices, their impact on science and their times, all of this makes a great, and I should repeat it, a truly great storytelling material.
If this book was told in a way that work of fiction are, I would be eating my fingernails with thrill, passing from page to page. You see, it was so good, that I wish it was better and I am actually ashamed by my own opinion. It’s a science non-fiction, but made for fiction genre. Damn, I’m torn apart by this book.
I believe that the greatest characteristics of this book is a way in which so much information about the Royal Society is contained in such a concentrated form. I’m pretty sure I do not have to explain to any history geek out there, that it was an intriguing time in world’s history, and also probably one treated rather poorly in school. Yes, of course, the single elements happen to pop-up at Biology, Chemistry or Physics classes in high school, but they are not enough to tell what was the 17th Century science about (unless you had a detailed course in this at your school, me and many of my school friends didn’t).
All in all, I had fun with this book and I hope that it will inspire someone to write a good fiction about “Newton & folks” :P. I even more hope that someone already did and I can read it. I will be forever amazed and heartbroken if this won’t gonna happen.
The Silver Lining Playbook by Matthew Quick
And we are back to some of the titles more usual for fiction fans. I have to say I read it mostly because I heard so many positive opinions and 8/10 ratings that I thought, the hell I need to check this out. I don’t think this book scored 8 points in my opinion, but it was surely not the time wasted.
I need to make a point that I have not seen the movie yet, but I heard that Robert De Niro is playing main chara’s dad and I have to say, even without this knowledge I would imagine this character as De Niro anyway. So, I guess, you can say this book works with your imagination and it does it hard.
Here we have a main chara, that we know is not quite stable, if having an idea about being in God’s scripted movie is not an evidence enough. Though, I think I already heard this idea from one of my friends. Anyway, the hero, Pat, believes that if he leads the movie to a happy ending he will be reunited with his wife and everything will be flowers and unicorns. However, because it’s a life story, everything goes left, instead of right – his fav team is loosing, he meets a woman even more unstable than he is and he is getting haunted by a ghost of a saxophonist – the part which I can totally relate too, because we all know songs that cannot get out of our heads up to the point, in which hearing them over and over again in our minds drives us mad.
I love the way in which Quick invites us inside Pat’s head so we do not feel like he is some kind of a crazy, but he is actually a living and feeling person. Maybe he is a little childish at the beginning, but the part of his come back to normal life is an accelerated course on how to be an adult. His struggles makes one part of the emotional boundary with the reader, whereas the story of his wife actually stands for a good warning. It’s like the author was constantly reminding us something is not quite right with the wife’s participation in this story and it’s better to keep the distance.
Also, big bravo for showing that Pat is not the only person who can have problems in his family, due to his mental state. I loved how the book shows the parents’ perspective too. They had their own struggles and bad days and I think a part of Pat’s new adulthood is his altruism towards them and other people who surround him. Sometimes it may be driven by a reward, maybe even a wrong one, like the obsessive wishful thinking of meeting his wife, but it still helps him in the progress.
I do not want to spoil this book to you, so I shall finish my review at this point. I feel like I’ve told you too much already :P. If you do not feel like reading the books after I wrote about them or in case I spoiled them too heavily to you, just remember it was not my fault or intent to do this. Jayne made me. Why do I have so many gifs of him on my disc anyway?