Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it an enthralling, well-researched primer on the history oMy full review can be found here.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found it an enthralling, well-researched primer on the history of the occult. It is worth noting that this book focuses primarily upon writers rather than scientists or pure magicians. It is also worth noting that the latter half of the book provides a rich sampling of sections from the most pertinent texts mentioned. It's a fun exercise to read the samples while focusing upon the author's section....more
I received this book, happily, as an ARC from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.Oh, Graham Hancock, how I enjoy you.
I received this book, happily, as an ARC from the GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.
The focus of Magicians of the Gods is Hancock's belief that the end of the Younger Dryas period was caused by a celestial impact. This asteroid strike, or multiple strikes as he believes that it split in the atmosphere, was primarily focused upon the ice shelf at the Canadian/US border and created the scablands that we see there today. So, what does that mean?
In Hancock's mind this impact, some 10,600 years ago, was what triggered the floods we see in old myths, the apocalypses of a myriad of ancient cultures, and what caused the collapse of a now-lost civilization (possibly Atlantis) that caused the survivors to spread out and gift their advanced technological prowess to the other cultures.
Now, where is the proof of this? Hancock finds it in monuments he believes to be older than they seem. Baalbek, Gobekli Tepe, the Easter Island Moai, Indonesian megaliths, etc. The book is a survey of ancient sites as much as it is trumpeting his hypothesis. Whether or not you believed in the YD impact theory, it is worth a glimpse or two for the gorgeous photographs taken by his wife at the various sites. More than simply ancient Egypt, this book surveys commonly overlooked sites and makes a good case for a re-examination of some of them.
I enjoyed this book. While I don't subscribe to the ideas of genetic manipulation existing that far back, I do believe there are many cases where archaeologists could reexamine some evidence. I do believe, also, that it would be worth it to do deeper surveys of un-studied places such as Indonesia. I don't find the idea of lost civilizations that unusual, and I think for the most part, Hancock is good about what he postulates.
Even if you don't agree with Hancock, at least read the bits where he references Sitchin and crushes the hopes of Ancient Astronaut Theorists everywhere by revealing faulty translations.
I came across this book at a beach house while vacationing in OBX. We were caught inside due to the rather turbulent storm (actually watched a fair biI came across this book at a beach house while vacationing in OBX. We were caught inside due to the rather turbulent storm (actually watched a fair bit of pier break off and get carried about by the waves) and having little else to do, read. What better reading during that time than the legends of the very town we were staying in and the surrounding area?
This book is exceptionally charming. The stories that are contained within it are ones that pretty much epitomize the experience of being an Outer Banker, or at least visiting the Outer Banks. You'll find an abundance of pirates, some Indians, colonialists and porpoises. You'll learn about the wisdom of the Outer Bankers and the foolishness of those inlanders that think they can forget tradition. You''ll learn more than I can possibly express in a short review about the perspective and culture of a place that's slowly changing, having to acclimate to a changing world and the values that come along with it.
I love these books so much. They're time capsules into ways of life and being that are otherwise so difficult to convey. I think it says a lot about the Outer Banks that so many of the stories are still as prevalent as they are today - in particular the way that Nag's Head and Jockey's Ridge got their names - that rely upon the romanticized notion of pirates. Just fascinating stuff.
So, if you're looking for a book that will keep your kids up at night, or you want an amusing look back at a very different perspective and way of life, this is a great book to illuminate the people of that region....more
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mindfulness in Motion offers not only a scientific look at why meditatiI received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mindfulness in Motion offers not only a scientific look at why meditation is effective, but also an in-depth guide into motion-based meditation to aid in your everyday life. While many understand that meditation does work and have a variety of benefits to those who practice it, people still don't practice it. Why? It's difficult for many to focus on the mind so adroitly, and often times people are too busy or restless to sit still for long periods in such a manner.
Mindfulness in Motion offers a solution to these problems. Dr. Russell explains that it is possible to practice meditation without needing to sit still and clear the mind. It's possible to reap the same benefits of traditional meditation through motion-based meditation. Rather than sitting still, you can practice slow controlled movements and focus the mind upon the motion. Furthermore, motion based meditation can aid in emotional healing in a way that traditional mediation doesn't always do.
The claims the book makes are grand, but all well-sourced and often quite logical. Dr. Russell takes the time to explain the science behind each exercise in a way that is easy to understand without sacrificing the specifics. I found myself fascinated by the book, and actually practiced many of the exercises listed within it. It's surprising, but the effects are easy to feel and experience. I can definitely see how this could hugely benefit a person is practiced long term....more
First: From the very outset the book made clear that history books are inevitably biased. Anytime you read a history book you are reading history through the lens of a certain theme. In this case, the theme was that of equality and inequality, which they made exceptionally clear from the introduction and through the book itself. I appreciated how up front they were.
Second: The book was divided into very short chapters, allowing this book to be a quick read. Although the chapters were short each had a very clear focus and was surprisingly in depth. Quotes were used often, and I'm a glutton for primary sources. I loved how much attention was given.
Third: Maps! Well labeled maps of famous battlefields, as well as the way the territories were originally divided. Excellent!
The book did a very good job of highlighting the diversity of the United States through the ages. It explained the slave trade exceptionally well, bringing up points that I'd never even considered before. I appreciated the vast scope of the project, and how neutral the tone was up through Reconstruction. It was only as the book got closer to modern day that it began to rush through events rather more quickly than I'd like, but I can understand the need to do so given the scope of the project and the limited space available.
I think this is a good introductory history book. It whets the appetite and would allow a reader more ease of access to figure out what time period and topic they'd like to read about in US history....more
The Georgian Menagerie by Christopher Plumb is precisely what its title portends it to be. The book details the evolution of the menagerie during the long eighteenth century, and with it the changing ways in which British culture viewed animals and their relationships to them. The book is cleverly divided into a variety of sections to better sum up the changing cultural values:
Trade Ingredients Crowds (which delves into people's relationships with animals at large and contains sections such as "Bitten, Crushed and Maimed" and "Under the Knife" Humor
For such a slim volume the book is suprisingly informative and contains a great deal of primary sources within. While the way some animals are treated is incredibly distressing (Chunee the elephant in particular) what surprised me the most was how little our behavior towards some animals has changed. There are still idiots poking and harassing animals at the zoo, still people who view animals more as property than sentient beings, and still all too many people who believe that animal parts have a strong place in medicine that will revitalize them.
The Georgian Menagerie was an eye-opening book. Say what you will about the past, but at least during that time animals weren't destroyed for attacking those who abused them....more
The Path of No Resistance purports to hold the key to achieving a more successful, productive, and satisfying life. To Garrett Kramer the one thing The Path of No Resistance purports to hold the key to achieving a more successful, productive, and satisfying life. To Garrett Kramer the one thing that you must do in order to be successful is to stop thinking. If you can quiet your mind, you'll be more in tune with your emotions, and if you're more in tune with your emotions than your mind will automatically reset any negative feelings you have. That's the essence of the book.
While I think that he has a good point when it comes to clearing away negative thoughts, I don't think this advice is the best for people suffering from mood disorders or dealing with toxic relationships. For minor issues, however, the advice is good. You can generally communicate more clearly and from a better spot if you're calm, and the bulk of bad performance in sport seems to come from thinking too much.
The low rating then, is not entirely due to the message. The low rating mainly comes from the fact that I didn't enjoy the way the book was written. It was scattered with anecdotes that were either redundant or not terrifically helpful. The book felt repetitive more than much else, and several grammatical errors really grated on me: most strongly, the use of the phrase "I could care less." It isn't that difficult to correct to "couldn't."
I did enjoy the formatting, however. The use of summaries and bullet points halfway through the chapter and again at the end helped to drive home the points made. I just wish there had been more points, overall.
Finally, I thought the inclusion of a rather large selection of quotes in the Appendix was questionable at best and self-congratulatory at worst....more
Suspicious Minds by Rob Brotherton is an interest, slightly irreverent, study of what makes us believe what we all too often believe. From the harmless suspicious tendency to roll a pair of die gently in order to achieve a low number, to the paranoiac belief that the government is out to get you, to the all-encompassing conviction that interdimensional shape-shifting reptiles rule to the world - we all have some tendency towards superstition and belief in conspiracy theories. The why we believe what we believe can actually be more troubling and interesting than the what we believe. Unless it's dealing with interdimensional shape-shifting aliens. Those are probably the most creative.
See, the Queen's a reptilian. You can tell by the eyes.
Suspicious Minds may not have been as in-depth as I would have liked it to be, but it was still a very interesting book. The beginning is a brief history of conspiracy theories, meant to show that this style of thinking is endemic to the human condition rather than a more recent phenomenon bolstered by the internet and the now pervasive globalism. The history was fascinating, and at times mildly disturbing. I was especially thankful for the in-depth discussion of the Protocols of Zion after Dan Brown and Holy Blood, Holy Grail had popularized a new resurgence in belief that those are anything but a hoax. Hopefully this well-documented history of the forgery will put some of that to rest.
Following the history of conspiracy theories the book delves into what a conspiracy theory is exactly (and decides that an important facet of it is that it isn't and likely won't ever be proven) and then the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking. The bulk of the book is devoted to the hallmarks of conspiracy thinking and how every one of us is given to it to a certain extent.
The book is a good example of pop-science, without being erroneous. It's well-researched, intriguing, and would benefit greatly from a more in-depth bibliography in the back. I think that this is a good introduction to the subject overall - though perhaps the section regarding echo chambers was handled a bit more deftly by Jon Ronson in So, You've Been Publicly Shamed. It's still a valuable topic and an interesting book. I'm glad I read it....more
Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle by Douglas J. Emlen is a delightful enlightening read. Douglas J. Emlen focuses on many unusual animals, rather than focusing upon the typical big cats, wild dogs, and dinosaurs. The main thrust of his book is the insects - beetles, flies, and other such forgotten creatures litter the pages with their bizarre adaptations and startlingly complex behavior. The times when the author is writing about these are the best part of the book - he thrives in descriptions of the unusual, and the pages fly by.
The book never became boring, but the transitions were largely bizarre to me, which in turn affected some of my enjoyment. While I agree that there are rather clear parallels between human weapon development and animal evolution - and that the case presented was a good one - I think it was clumsily written. Transitions could have been handled better, but overall that wasn't so jarring as to heavily impact my rating of the book.
In spite of the small gripe in terms of transitions, the book was wonderful. The contents were fascinating, the arguments presented well thought out, and the illustrations provided by David J. Tuss truly stunning. The illustrations, two of which adorn the cover, are fantastic and playfully done without sacrificing detail or scientific accuracy.
Last year I received Resurrection Science as an ARC from Netgalley and eagerly devoured it. This book was released around the same time, but I was unLast year I received Resurrection Science as an ARC from Netgalley and eagerly devoured it. This book was released around the same time, but I was unable to get my hands on it until the local library carried it. I'm quite happy that I was patient enough to get it, as the book was an incredibly rewarding read.
Resurrection Science focused primarily upon the ethical side of de-extinction. It went into the various types of extinction, their causes, and whether or not bringing them back in an abbreviated fashion - forever in captivity, unable to be reintroduced - is that fair? How to Clone a Mammoth touched upon these aspects briefly, but failed to really address those aspects of de-extinction in a satisfactory way. Ultimately, however, that is all right. It addressed other aspects of de-extinction quite beautifully.
How to Clone a Mammoth concerns itself with the scientific and practical aspects of the process. The author, Beth Shapiro, is intimately involved with Revive & Restore - one of the small number of groups championing de-extinction as a way to revive lost ecosystems and aid in encouraging biodiversity where it has been lost. She goes into detail about the importance of de-extinction on that front, and in turn, how the public often views it differently.
The book is a good work of lay-science, perhaps a bit more sophisticated than Bill Bryson's work in A Short History of Nearly Everything but nothing that should put a more casual reader off. She covers the more complex science well, but focuses mainly upon dispelling myths and practical solutions to the problems that may arise.
Personally, being deeply interested in de-extinction and believing in it as a possible solution to some environmental problems, I loved the work. While I do see its capacity for causing potential issues, I ultimately think it will be good - particularly when it comes to places like Pleistocene Park. I hope to see many more books tackling these issues in the near future, and look forward to eventual headlines trumpeting the return of the mammoth. Even if it's simply, in truth, only an elephant with some mammoth genes. :)...more
Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal follows the life of Alfred Packer as best it can manage. This man lived at the tail end of the 19th century, fought in the civil war, worked as a tracker, had horrible epilepsy, and ultimately may have murdered and eaten five of his travelling companions in the Colorado mountains.
May have. But the evidence is pretty damning.
So, let's name a grill after him.
The book is extremely accessible. It's easy to read, even with the subject matter at hand, and tells the story with ample reference back to the source material. While it has no pictures, somewhat disappointing considering the number of woodcuts referenced, the author does an admirable job of describing all that he wishes to convey.
The court cases themselves were interesting. I enjoyed the high number of quotations, the rich vocabulary, and the ample history given not simply of the figures themselves, but of the towns they grew up in. The murders that took place happened at a time when the West was still being settled, and Harold Schechter conveys the changing America spirit well. The frontier days are done by the end, and it's amazing how quickly such a change can take place in national character.
While I would be slightly hesitant to recommend this book to just anyone by virtue of its subject matter alone, I would feel slightly better doing so knowing that the main source of reference I had for this historical event was Cannibal: The Musical.
So, if you ever want to know the true story behind that - or are simply interested in cannibalism for some reason, this is a wonderful book containing not only story of Alfred Packer but quite a bit more tales of madness from those frontier days. ...more
I won this book through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
I hadn't heard of Kevin Breel prior to reading this book.I won this book through the GoodReads first reads program in exchange for an honest review.
I hadn't heard of Kevin Breel prior to reading this book. The blurb informed me that he had a very famous TED talk, and has worked extensively with To Write Love on Her Arms - which makes sense given the subject of this book. Boy Meets Depression is a wry examination of his own life, told with a self-deprecating honesty that at times had me laughing out loud. The humor present in the book did little to soften the blow of the darkness to come, but was a welcome reprieve from the usual tone of these sorts of memoirs. Kevin Breel ultimately handled the subject of depression, and living with it, deftly and with a soft touch. This made for an interesting memoir, and an honest look at a difficult subject that I think would benefit a lot of YA readers.
The advice given at the end of each chapter often got a grin out of me, though it also did make me reflect on the changes I've made in my own life and how much little things really can help someone going through a tough time. Boy Meets Depression was a good read, and a valuable book for anyone who's lived with depression, or knows someone going through it. I think it would help others understand what people are going through, and how to best help a friend in a difficult place. ...more
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was phenomenal. M.R. O'Connor did an excellent job of eI received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book was phenomenal. M.R. O'Connor did an excellent job of examining not only the question of extinction and the controversial subject of de-extinction, but of asking the very uncomfortable question 'What is a species worth?' What is it that makes a person decide that one species is worth saving over another, and is saving a species from extinction truly a worthwhile endeavor? Does everything have an intrinsic value?
The book is divided into 8 chapters, each focusing upon a different species either going extinct, or possibly being revived. For those interested the subjects of the chapters are as follows: Spray Toads Florida Panthers White Sands Pupfish Northern Right Whales Hawaiian Crow Northern White Rhino Passenger Pigeon Neanderthal
Each species discussed raises a different question regarding the course of extinction and conservation. Should we save or protect a species if doing so hurts the human community around it? At what point of hybridization does a species stop being what it originally was? If human interference is largely responsible for the differences between a species that has been fragmented - are they still the original endangered species? What can we do to protect endangered species we know very little about? What if breeding a creature in captivity ends up erasing the very behaviors that were the hallmark of the species? Would reviving a species artificially result in the same species? Is conservation on the ground more worth it than rescuing the genetic data?
These questions and more abound, and are examined from all angles. The result is a book that looks at the ethical questions beyond conservation in a way that I've seldom seen discussed. This book is vitally important, engaging, and thought provoking. I would like nothing more than to see this book in the hands of everyone involved in the environmental movements. It asks uncomfortable questions and raises troubling points that need to be raised.
I can't emphasize enough how much I adored this text....more
I was deeply interested in this book when I saw it was on order at the local library. A book on the history of writing?What to say about Palimpsest?
I was deeply interested in this book when I saw it was on order at the local library. A book on the history of writing? That sounds grand. I thought it would be along the lines of an actual.... history of writing. Something that delved into why our minds are organized the way they are, and why they express themselves so well through writing. Maybe a bit on how Socrates, Jesus, and so many other ancient peoples distrusted the practice outright. Maybe something on the various myths of how writing came to be, why some cultures still have yet to develop it... you know - a history of writing. Instead, I got Palimpsest. Yes, it covers the above topics lightly - very lightly, in fact - but now I've come away from it knowing a decent amount about hanzi and less about Chinese writing systems than how very wrong and direspectful the Victorian view of Chinese writing systems was.
Don't me wrong. Matthew Battles has a lovely, poetic style of writing. My trouble is that such a style is better suited to fiction than it is to a historical study. His writing is a labyrinth of ideas and connections, spinning together like a spider's web in a way that is beautiful to behold... but utterly maddening when you're looking for a particularly linear and informative study of language. So, yes,while I did learn some things from this it wasn't quite what I wanted to learn nor in the way I had wanted to learn it.
I didn't hate this book, but I did ultimately want to be reading something other than what I ended up reading. Others may have better luck with it than myself in the end. Still, it was overall a rather interesting subject. I'd like to read other books focused upon it sometime....more
I received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and haveI received this book through the GoodReads first reads program.
As many of you likely know, I've been on a bit of a James Bond kick this year and have been studiously reading through the canon. My favorite of the books, and films, for some time has been From Russia With Love. How could I resist a peek into the real Cold War, then, and all of the complex espionage techniques utilized? Why even try to resist?
David E. Hoffman has painted a beautiful picture of the difficulties of espionage in Moscow during the Cold War. He meticulously documents different techniques used to elude the KGB, the gadgets that made spywork possible, and the manifold difficulties that come from such a tense environment that relies almost exclusively upon the human element. Equipment malfunctions, and unfortunately, people do too.
The book was extremely interesting, and the history quite dense. While I agree with several of the other reviewers in thinking that the book could have been structured a bit better in terms of Tolkachev's motives being revealed, it was still a very powerful story. I was continually struck by the variety of people the CIA employed, the level of technology they had at their disposal, and just how difficult it was to truly "go black" during that time.
The Billion Dollar Spy does a wonderful job of showing the human element of spying and what motivates a person to defect. It's remarkable how much damage a single driven individual can do....more
This book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their releaThis book was purchased as a surprise for my boyfriend, combined with Absolute Transmetropolitan as late birthday gifts. Only late due to their release dates, I should add. It's a signed copy, which means it has a pretty ridiculous squiggle in it. So. There's that.
The actual book proved quite surprising. I didn't expect it to offer as in-depth as sociological analysis as it did. The book was littered with interesting information, extensive references to studies and papers that had been done, and generally fun anecdotes from the experiments that Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg did themselves.
If anyone has looked into these topics before there won't be a terribly great deal of new information. Passionate vs Companionate love forms the basis of a lot of the books arguments, which at least to me is always quite interesting. The particular views of technology are interesting as well - as for once technology isn't viewed as either universally good or bad but rather as a tool that can be properly utilized to gain good results. Nice.
Some of the information in the book was in Ansari's most recent stand-up routine, but it hasn't gotten old for me yet. I enjoyed the humor, and think that it translated well to the page. It forced me to do a few double-takes as I was reading, when a humorous aside jumped into more serious text. It only became grating once or twice, and far more often got a real laugh from me. The full color pictures were beautifully printed and jumped off the page. It was nice to have a book that integrated them into the pages rather than having a few glossy pages in the middle. Well worth the money.
So, if you like Aziz Ansari's stand-up as well as sociological kind of pop-sci texts you'll like this. It's a weird niche, but I'm sure some people occupy it with me....more
So, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh aSo, you know the question isn't even answered in this book, right?
I picked this up on a whim at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The title made me laugh and I thought it might make a decent gag gift of sorts for a feminist friend. Of course, I needed to read the book before I passed it off. Only decent thing to do, isn't it?
I kind of wish I hadn't.
Generally I enjoy sociological tirades, however inflamed they are. I've a decent background in anthropology and I'm no stranger to strife between the sexes being decently examined. It can be interesting to view the more radical beliefs, though too often poor examples are used. It can be interesting to see what other people think, and in turn be made to view things from an alternative perspective. Even though I (foolishly?) believe I'm more open-minded than most I found this book to be ridiculous.
The examples Maureen Dowd set forth to defend her rather shaky slightly non-existent hypothesis seemed to apply more specifically to her own situation than to women in general. She talked about being called a bitch, about men writing to respond to her column more generally than women did, and about her own experiences working in DC. Women in politics and offering political commentary, it seems, are the same as women everywhere else. I can't help but think that area is a bit more specialized and more volatile than others for some reason...
In addition to this her hypothesis was unclear. She seemed at points to believe that women would be better off if men no longer existed - an entirely chapter was devoted to how the Y chromosone will be extinct in 10,000 to 10,000,000 years and how women will then TRULY rule the world - but then also noted how men are feminizing themselves and how that should be viewed as a victory. She bemoaned flirting in the office, but then discussed how it's insulting when men didn't flirt. It was very confusing.
At the end of this book I don't feel I really understand what it was setting out to be. It was just disorganized vitriol pointed at no one in particular. ...more
There comes a time in every person's life when they discover a book they know they will love. They see the title and the cover and are instantly intriThere comes a time in every person's life when they discover a book they know they will love. They see the title and the cover and are instantly intrigued. With trembling hands they pull it from the case and read the back.
YOUR PET IS A SPACE ALIEN the text will scream from the back.
I had no idea, really. One in five pets in an alien from outer space? Which of my 8 hedgehogs falls into that classification? Inquiring minds need to know.
Yes, this book was every bit as ridiculous as I hoped for. I learned how to discover my pets Power Number, how to name it to correspond with its Power Number and keep it spiritually aligned. I learned how to discover my Totem Animal by visualizing myself as a Native American doing mundane tasks.
Truly an enlightening book.
It isn't as if science could explain almost every story within it....
I do appreciate the fact they acknowledge that animals are smarter than we think.
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for cWonderful book!
I'm a massive fan of Jon Ronson. He's one of the authors I seek out happily, trying to discover every last thing they've written for consumption. This book came as a delightful surprise. New Jon Ronson discussing something me and my boyfriend have recently been discussing on our own? Excellent!
So You've Been Publicly Shamed is an excellent foray into the dark world of the internet and how they take small things and immediately build them up into massive ordeals. What drives us to do this? How does it affect the person shamed? Should we really be doing this?
What set this book apart for me was the fact that the author interviewed not only those who were shamed but also those doing the shaming. He traced public humiliation as a for of prosecution back through the centuries and discovered how it affected those who were shamed. Is it effective? Is it not? How does a person get past this?
The answers were legitimately surprising in many cases, and naturally a great deal more complex than one would readily suspect. Personally, I found some of the conclusions of the book rather worrisome - in particular the ending and what it predicts for society.
This book drove home the need for civil discourse and for unpopular opinions. Living in an echo chamber is never a good thing....more
The book is written in a fairly engaging way. While occasionally it becomes a bit too superfluous in the topics it covers and general encouragement itThe book is written in a fairly engaging way. While occasionally it becomes a bit too superfluous in the topics it covers and general encouragement it is a much more entertaining book for it. It covers all of the topics vital to writing a proposal and formatting it, as well as providing sample proposals and resources for learning more at the back of the book. How to write a sample chapter is also covered, as is how to talk to publishers and get an agent.
It's a thorough book, and a better introduction than many how-to guides that I've seen on the internet have been. ...more