13 December 2008

Books 2008

For those who are interested, here come again a couple of nice books that I had the chance to read in 2008. This time with comments...

If it says on the label of your shampoo that it will enhance the glance of your hair by 63% is that really possible?
"Geekspeak" is written by a Scottish Pysicist who claims to be one of the world's biggest Geeks. He isn't able to just sit idle somewhere - wherever he is, his brain asks for answers: How much power does that wave over there in the ocean possibly have? How fast is that airplane flying over here? Are those chubby angels above the altar really able to take off with those tiny wings of theirs?
He explains how we are all able to calculate those and many more things with what we already know about the world... no need to consult the internet or ask experts. Actually, he tells you how to quickly calculate whether so-called-experts tell the truth or not...
So does shampoo enhance your glance by any chance?

Valley Of The Casbahs", a well written travel report by an American who, inspired by the great Explorer Thesiger, travels for several weeks by camel caravan through a layed back Morrocan valley. He offers insights into the nomadic lifestyle of the local population and how this traditional way of life changes in our modern times.

The absolute classic travel report by Mark Twain: "The Innocents Abroad". In 1867, in times long before mass tourism, frequent-flyer-miles, the World Wars and the conflict in the Middle-East, Mark Twain travels by paddle steamer on what is called the first ever "Leisure Excursion" from New York to Palestine. Very witty and full of interesting fact and stories.

"Longitude" researches the story of the simple watchmaker Hamilton who dedicated his life to making the most precise watch of its time. A watch that could travel on board a ship and so enable its navigators to determine their exact position at sea. In a hard and not always fair played competition against famous astronomers - long before our age of satellite navigation -he wins the race to solve one of the most important problems of his times. Captain Cook and other famous sea farers travelled with his original watches which are now on display in the Royal Observatory Museum in Greenwich.

In "Life of Pi" Yann Martel tells the touching and philosophical story of a young man who survives the sinking of a big cargo ship on its trip from India to America only to find himself in a liferaft with several large animals, amongst them a Hyiena and a Bengal Tiger!

Yes, it sounds a bit freaky to read a book with the subtitle "A guide to spritual enlightenment". But if one doesn't regard it as the ultimate wisdom (just as one shouldn't do with any, and particularily not with any religious book) then "The Power Of Now" reveals interesting thoughts about happiness, our concept of time and the way we live our axious and stressful lives today. And by the way, who is the freak - the one who is taking a deep breath and sees life a bit more relaxed or the one who isn't?

I read it again this year. And I probably read it again in 2009. "The Passion" is a story about love, hatred and what makes life worth living. Jeanette Winterson has the gift to put things into poetic language that I felt I always knew. They were somewhere inside of me but I just wasn't even able to put them into thoughts.

This book is translated from the original title: "A World Of My Own" by Robin John Knox. In 1959, he is the first person to ever sail around the world nonstop and single handed! What makes his trip so special is the fact that he is a simple commercial sailor while some of his competitors in the single-handed race around the world are millionaires who have special boats constructed for this purpose. He tries to acquire sponsors for his adventure but doesn't receive any positive feedback. So when time starts running out he just uses his slow, self-built wooden ship "Suhaili"... and wins!

And for all those who like a snack at the side when they're reading, or for those who prefer the movies, well for anybody... this here is the King, the Queen, the Prince and the Princess of potato chips!!! I found them (they found me?) first somewhere in Scotland. But now that I know them I find them all over the world. To quit smoking is easier than to stop eating before the pack is empty.

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