Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: "Blink- The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell

Several of the very smart scientist ladies that I work with have been talking about Malcolm Gladwell's books lately and I thought I would jump in and try one for myself. This is not my most favorite nonfiction read (that's a pretty crowded category to be fair) but I still learned a lot. 

One of the things I learned kind of made me sad. I always assume that everyone in them as a little psychic ability in them. Just your gut instinct on why you do or don't do something. This book tells me it's just because my brain is moving a lot faster than I thought that it was. Which FINE OKAY SCIENCE but that's just a little bit less fun.

The two parts of the book that I found the most interesting were:

The Pepsi Challenge. A thing when Pepsi did a study giving people one sip of Coke and Pepsi, with the sippers not knowing which was which, to see what they prefered. That section goes into what was weird about that study (who ever drinks just one sip of something?), what factors made it turn out the way that it did and finally an answer on why New Coke was a thing. 

The other part was the very very end about people auditioning for orchestras that play their instrument behind a screen. It is supposed to help take out people's bias and holy cow it sounds like there's a lot of bias floating around in that world! Basically, women can't play brass instruments. Stick to the flute and the violin and the clarinet women of the world or else be ready to face some unfair and unbiased scrutiny! #smashthepatriarchy

I gave this book a solid 3 out of 5. Some of it was interesting but then some of it seemed to go on for far too long on any certain topic.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

DNF: "The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day" by James Kakalios

I have a Did Not Finish review for you today.

I picked this book from Blogging for Books to review because I was like "Hey, I like nonfiction. This is probably harder on the science then I am used to, but I can handle it. I'm a badass!". Dear reader, I AM a badass, but I am not great at science comprehension which is what you might need to be to really enjoy this book.

I thought the format was really great though. It goes through a person's average day and points out the uh, physics of the everyday things. Like how bluetooth speakers work and how an airplane stays in the air and all of that type of thing. I knew I was in trouble with this book when I hit this sentence:

To understand how the toaster converts electrical energy into heat and light requires and understanding of thermodynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics".

Even with the simplest of explanations and many many pictures this was not going to be something I could really comprehend AND enjoy learning about.

So, while this wasn't a good fit for me, maybe it is a good fit for you! If it sounds interesting give it a shot!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book review: "Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

I can't remember how Salt to Sea ended up on my TBR but I am sure glad I did. The fast moving story and the short chapters made me want to sit down and read it all at once, but alas  half hour lunch breaks would not allow it.

The book's short chapters are narrated by four different people all thrown together in the horror and panic and chaos that was the end of WWII in Europe. Each of the 4 people are making their way towards a port city where they are hoping that a boat will get them to safety. Most of them are running away from things in their past, that inevitably leak out little bit by little bit as the story goes on. However, one of the people is a douche bag moron who is looking for glory and all I could do was root for an untimely and violent demise for him. Which, you know, in a book about WWII the odds are pretty good. 

The characters were varied and interesting and believable and the last 4 or 5 chapters in the end are tense and scary and makes you feel happy that you are reading on dry land. Unless you are reading this on a boat. Then put on your life jacket and sit on the deck.

I liked that this book had such short, easily digestible chapters. AND that they were clearly marked with who was narrating what. I hate it when books switch between narrators and you spend the first 10 pages of each chapter trying to figure out who is talking. It's format makes it for a good book that you can put down and pick up again easily, or one that you can blow through in one sitting. 

I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book review: "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

While this book lacked the conversational tone that I prefer in my nonfiction books it still gave me a lot of really interesting tidbits that I can share with you.

-When you rub a thin layer of graphite around a canonball it makes it pop nice and cleanout of it's cannon. And you can also, you know, write with it.

-When Gutenberg printed his first few Bibles he couldnt keep the ink from fading. Luckily Jan Van Eyck, the famous painter. started making oil based ink a few years before and Gutenberg took that idea and ran with it. If not for Van Eyck those pages could be blank now!

-The author talks about what Victorian ladies who through the use of their white face powder, slowly poisoned themselves with lead. THAT was super interesting and sad.

-Did you know that if you swish our hand around a container of mercury (DONT DO THIS AT HOME) with the direction it's going it feels like water, no resistance. If you go against it, it's like an unstoppable force. Take of your jewlery when you do this, or else it will eat the rings off your hand immediately. PLEASE DON'T SWIRL YOUR HAND IN MERCURY.

- If you're a synaesthetic your brain can make connections between things that the majority of people don't. A man named Scriabin associated musical notes with color. But the problem is, if Scriabin heard an F flat he might see the color green. But it another person with this condition hears an F flat he sees navy blue. The connections are not universal between people. Which would be awesome. But also weird.

-There's a whole page that talks about Jan Van Eyck's most famous painting "The Arnolfini Marriage". There is probably no other painting in the world that is open to more interpretations than this painting. Are the couple happy? Are they pregnant? Are they in love? Is it significant that the window is open and she has a hand on her belly?! No.Clear.Answers. I could sit in art history classes forever just about this painting.

So while the writing style wasn't my favorite I still learned a lot. My other super small criticism is that she spends time in Iraq and Syria and while she does talk about the Taliban (it was written in 2003, so still post-9/11) I feel like the picture over there is a bit different now....


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book review: "Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith From a Culture of Fear" by Stephan Bauman

This is one of those books that after I read it I kind of just felt happy and calm and introspective. Which is kind of a rare thing, which I don't know if that attests to the books that I read or how I am as a human!

In the introduction the book talks about how at even though (generally speaking) people are living longer, earning more money and have more things than any other time period in the past our anxiety is also at an all time high. And according to the poll, people in the United States are getting progressively less happy. Maybe we need to realign our priorities?

Quote: "But meekness is not synonymous with weakness. For Jesus, being meek didn't mean the lack of strength but rather strength under authority, his Father's authority. The Greek word for meek (praus) means excersizing strength with humility, gentleness and even restraint, all of which requires a deep level of trust. This is not what we normally think of when we think of power....But meek is not weak".

Another quote: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other" - Mother Teresa. 

I liked that the author seems to have a lot of experience with a lot of different people all around the world. That might seem like a weird compliment but there's a lot of Christian authors who write well meaning books who seem like they live in a little Christian bubble.

I received this book in exchange for a honest review from Blogging for Books