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The nonfic in my life. - LITERAL LIBRIS
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Yes, Jack Shoegazer! posting in Literal Libris - A Nonfiction Community
name: literal_libris (posted by jackshoegazer)
time: 2007-09-24 08:55
about: The nonfic in my life.
safety: Public
This place has been awfully quiet, so I thought I'd share my recent nonfic reads.  Well, as of this year, anyway.

In January, I read Graham Hancock's Supernatural in which he runs the gamut from early human cave paintings to gods, and angels, fairies, psychedelics, shamans, and aliens and links them all together as basically the same phenomenon.  In my mind, (being subjects I've already spent a fair amount of time studying) he does a very good job of forming a solid theory with many examples to back up this theory.  Basically he is saying that our encounters with the supernatural, are the same, only the outer appearance changes along with our technology and world view, that what we once thought were angels became fairies in later times, and then became aliens in the present.  He makes sure to state that this all presupposes that these experiences are real.  And if we suppose that they are, then how do we begin to study a supernatural reality.  As I said, the book is great and very entertaining.

In March, I read A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke which is a slightly exaggerated account of the Englishman Clarke's year in France to open a set of British tea shops.  I have not laughed so hard and so often while reading a book as I did during the first quarter of this one.  The entire thing is brilliant, but the opening scenes and the language miscommunications are laugh-out-loud funny and it sheds a strange strange light on life in Paris.  An excerpt:
"My good friend Chris told me not to come to France.  Great lifestyle, he said, great food, and totally un-politically correct women with great underwear.  His theory was that the French are like the woman scorned. Back in 1940, they tried to tell us they loved us but we just laughed at their accents and their big-nosed General de Gaulle, and ever since we've done nothing but poison them with our disgusting food and try to wipe the French language off the face of the earth.  That's why they built refugee camps yards from the Eurotunnel entrance and refuse to eat our beef years after it was declared safe.  It's permanent payback time, he said.  Don't go there. Sorry, I told him, I've got to check out that underwear."

Then in June, I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson which is the funniest book ever written about science.  This man is hilarious and could probably write a knee-slapper about the Holocaust.  He covers just about anything you ever would want to know, as a non-scientist, about science, from the amazing level of facts about how it is, for all intents and purposes, an absolute statistical impossibility that we even exist, all the way to black holes and airplanes and vaccines and the history of the weird characters who invented all the things that make our improbable existence longer and better (and often worse as well.  Don't get me started on the insane amounts of lead we used to ingest.)  One of my favorite side notes is about a scientist (I forget what he did) who married, had some kids, the wife died in childbirth, so the wife's sister moved in to help him take care of the children, they fall in love, marry, have more kids, she dies in childbirth, when grown, his daughters die in childbirth, the Nazi's blow up his house and all his work during the London bombings, and his last remaining son is executed when he is caught in a plot to assassinate Hitler.  Yeah.  that part wasn't so funny.  But the whole book is funny and informative and the U.S. would lead the world in the sciences if people like Bryson taught it.

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name: lagizma
time: 2007-09-24 19:07 (UTC)
about: (no subject)
I've read nearly all of Bill Bryson's books, even the really-not-so-good ones, and I can't believe I still haven't picked up A Short History of Nearly Everything. I need to get on the ball.
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Yes, Jack Shoegazer!
name: jackshoegazer
time: 2007-09-27 13:36 (UTC)
about: (no subject)
I thought it was great. I'm kind of excited to read other of his books. I think we have his Ice Age trail book here, so I might dig into that if I ever get a spare moment to read again.
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