I can't remember why I downloaded this book; I had neither heard nor known of it. I caught it on amazon while looking...moreSometimes a book just finds you.
I can't remember why I downloaded this book; I had neither heard nor known of it. I caught it on amazon while looking for some other book.
As I read Harnden's introduction, I knew right away it was a unique book. And in spite of his suggestion not to read it in one go, I found myself at the end of the book in 2 hours - heavy, yet strangely calm and peaceful. And like many great books, it made me pause many a times throughout my reading, and reflect - at times completely without any thought on my mind. After the book ended, I kept revisiting the chapters, rereading, on occasions checking the references, but soon I realised the book will never have a psychological end; I will have to revisit it again and again and again, as long as I will live.
Book, though technically it isn't one, is an assortment of vignettes of unique travels and journeys, forty one in total- the unencumbered journeys - as Harnden describes them are drawn from real life, fiction and in fact one of them is a bird ( the arctic tern). The journeys are arranged as chapters. The first part of each chapter gives a brief introduction of the 'traveller', the second part describes the journey and its context, and third, arranged as a list ( in a poetic skeleton) is the list of possessions these travellers carried with them during these unique, exceptional travels. The book uses Travels and journeys as a metaphor for life , and the main motif of these journeys is sparseness and the wonder of simplicity.
Some of these journeys ( lives) are well known ( Thoreau, Gandhi, Jesus ), while some of them are unbelievably incredible ( Emma Gatewood, Ephraim M'lkiara) some are awe-inspiringly informative ( I didn't know that Herzog walked from Munich to Paris to visit Eisner, or that Marcel Duchamp travelled only with a toothbrush in his jacket pocket).
In a time where all of us as a society have collectively accepted to measure the worth of our identities and lives by our possessions, the book documents that all life will eventually amount to no more than how meaningfully you lived it. No more and no less. As Harnden illustrates in his example in the introduction 'Like a single Leaf'
The only crib I can force myself to think of, is that the book has too many American examples with Europe losing out ( e.g Wittgenstein ). This means the assortment can be improved.
As I have written, the book deserves endless revisiting, and as a testament, I will carry it during all my journeys.
To keep myself reminded. That life is no more than this.(less)
Malcolm Gladwell's writing has become like a girl you have gone out too many times with- predictable and increasingly less-stimulating.
Maybe it's bec...moreMalcolm Gladwell's writing has become like a girl you have gone out too many times with- predictable and increasingly less-stimulating.
Maybe it's because I've been reading too much Non Fiction that have almost boilerplate anecdotal narratives ( that's coz we have successfully mastered creating robots out of publishers / editors), but can't see anything worth of mention in here. David Vs Goliath was good in the first two chapters, then became too inclusive, diluted and repetitive. I thought the Northern Ireland example was weak and its choice and dominance in the book made the overall argument weak, and at times boring. It's like a travelling on a Gladwell train slowly losing its steam without any coherent argument for its fuel. You wouldn't miss any reading experience or an argument if you avoid it. (less)
Blink explores the super split second of evolutionary memory we use to make instant decisions, especially under duress. I didn't quite like it as much...moreBlink explores the super split second of evolutionary memory we use to make instant decisions, especially under duress. I didn't quite like it as much as Gladwell's Outliers, I felt the narration lacked a trail and at times seemed to be just labouring on a static idea. Wanted to mark a three star rating, but the content is unique and stories quite engaging. (less)
A wonderful primer to anyone remotely interested in the history of medicine. It charts a long chronicle of the evolution of medicine from the ancient...moreA wonderful primer to anyone remotely interested in the history of medicine. It charts a long chronicle of the evolution of medicine from the ancient theories to the present day modern science, its triumphs and failures, highlighting the most salient landmarks without getting too technical for a lay audience.
I'd also recommend it for children between of secondary school high school age bracket. (less)