My review of A History of the World in Twelve Maps

A History of the World in Twelve MapsA History of the World in Twelve Maps by Jerry Brotton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

October 23, 2014 – Why am I still reading this book after more than two and a half months, and I am only two-thirds through it? I have asked myself this question. This is not an easy read. The author shows himself to be very erudite, maybe to a fault, and uses words I have to look up. (And I taught high school English for sixteen years). He is so scholarly about the minutiae of history that I am sure only graduate students could be interested. But yet it is fascinating. It puts me into other times and other great minds that were motivated by the same things I see on the evening news—politics, science, religion, money, power, technology. It shows the human struggle over the millennia to communicate new knowledge in new ways. Although I only read a few pages a night, how can I put down a book that illuminates the minds of others who have shaped our present knowledge? How modern they seem in a world that is still exploring ways to map our universe.

Update 2/14/2015 – Finally finished last night. I could only manage a few pages a night, but I could not stop reading this lengthy tome. Little by little it shed light on the process of creating maps; but more importantly, it revealed the challenges of mapping a globe on a plane and the human motivation to create maps. From Ptolemy to Google it expanded my universe. I will never look at a map in the same way again.

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The World According to Bob

The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise CatThe World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat by James Bowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This feel-good book makes for great bedtime reading as it chronicles the episodic journey of Bob, an alley cat, who discovered and became a best bud of the author, a recovering addict. These unlikely British mates knew the streets and rose from selling magazines at the Angel tube station or busking in Covent Garden to being book writing celebs. Nice to have the occasional read that doesn’t make you think too much and has a happy ending.

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Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection

Kindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and ConnectionKindred Beings: What Seventy-Three Chimpanzees Taught Me About Life, Love, and Connection by Sheri Speede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book. The author’s life and the lives of the chimpanzees are bittersweet. She withholds none of this from us and shows us how to follow our hearts. I savored this book one chapter a night and always looked forward to what would come next. As a bonus I learned a little about Cameroon, a part of the world about which I knew very little. I hope there will be a sequel–a Speede return.

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian TrailA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not your ordinary stroll. I have been taken on a journey that I can visualize. Although I live in the mountains, albeit on a different coast, Bill Bryson has transported me to a wilderness that transcends the fire trail beyond our house. Only once have I undertaken a multi-day trek into the wilds. This was some years ago in the Olympic Peninsula where I was awakened one night in my sleeping bag on the ground, sans tent, with a bear three feet away. But this journey is more than an arduous trek through our spectacular world. It has taken me into the bonds that develop among people who accompany us on our adventures in life. It is physical metaphor for the journey we are all taking Walk on!

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