Category: Books

Comments on books I’ve read

a short review of a Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

If any of my science teachers at school had anything like the enthusiasm or insight of Bill Bryson, I’d probably be working for a pharmaceuticals company by now (thank goodness). In a Short History of Nearly Everything he explains how we think the universe, the earth and humans became the way they are. Just as interestingly he tells us the process we went through to find it. For example, he tells us of the first evidence of hereditary traits, which particular monk made the experiment, the various scientists that ignored it for decades and the particular guy who tried to pass it off as his own work after the monk had died.

The Sirens of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.This story pokes some fun at war, religion and life in general. It’s certainly science fiction, but that’s hardly at all important to the story lines.

It’s co-incidentally linked to a number of other books I’m reading at the moment in that it strives to provide some perspective on life with a view to have us stop worrying about the larger ‘cosmic’ purpose of it.

It’s also amusingly written, in a style that perhaps influenced the late, great and inflated Douglas Adams.

It’s also utter insanity. Winston Runfoord is a space traveller who gets caught in chronosynclastic infunidbulum. He now mysteriously appears in certain places at certain times with his dog, can read peoples minds and knows the future. He works out a big plan to sort the world out, which seems to kind of work. I’ll just leave it at that.

The Meme Machine – Susan Blackmore

The Meme Machine - Susan BlackmoreSusan Blackmore explains the theory of memes; what they are and how they affect us. She suggests that memes are as intertwined with recent human evolution as genes, explaining much of our strange behaviour and our huge brains.

I’m sure this will upset a lot of people due to the suggestion we are at the mercy of the memes and that they basically control us. With a good understanding of memes, you see the modern world in a interesting light. You begin to see more clearly why people gossip, why everyone wants to have David Beckham’s hairstyle and why people waste their entire lives following an illogical, pointless and largely suspicious religion, like Christianity for example.