Travel: A time to read

A 6-month trip certainly provides ample time for reading, right? 4.5 months in, I have managed to read 18 books, mostly fiction, and lots of it fantasy, plus some – such as George Orwell’s 1984 – that have been on my list for a long time. I have also tackled a few non-fiction books, and would like to discuss and recommend these here.

The first one is ‘Guns, Germs, and Steel’ by Jared Diamond, and takes on the mighty question of why it was that Eurasians conquered and colonised the rest of the world, and not the other way round. The author does not only discuss the proximate reasons such as that Eurasians had metallurgy, horses, and other useful items that other peoples did not, but goes beyond and asks why it was the Eurasians that developed these advanced tools in the first place. A super interesting topic! The book can be somewhat hard to read at times, as the author tries to make his argument watertight; the main points are raised in the pro- and epilogue, so read that if you are satisfied with an overview. I found it exciting to read this, as we had wondered about these questions when travelling New Zealand and Australia, two former British colonies.

Currently I am reading ‘We have no idea’ by Jorge Cham and Daniel Whiteson (Cham draws the fabulous PhD comics). The book, as the name suggests, focuses on the things that we don’t know (yet), that science has not (yet) discovered. That is a nice change, compared to the bragging that is sometimes found in scientific papers. The topic is physics – or the universe, matter, time, space, and other very basic things, of which we apparently have less of an idea than one would assume! While I really like this approach, as well as Cham’s drawings, the puns are often a bit forced – less would have been more. Also, I wish somebody wrote a ‘We have no idea’ book about Biology, or even better, about the brain! Anyone?

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