What Are You Reading? #2

History & Science

Molly’s back with more about books, because everyone seemed interested in that topic and I am all for it!

While I obviously love history (it’s my profession after all), I am also a lover of science – especially space science like cosmology and astrophysics. I’m fascinated by our universe and planet. Fun fact about me: history was not my first degree choice in college. I started off pursuing a degree in biology and had two years under my belt in biology (and one cosmology course) before switching to history thanks to some great professors who really dug into me about what I truly wanted to do. They asked if I could work anywhere, doing anything, what would that look like in detail? I found that what I wanted was to work in a museum with the artifacts – so here I am! Professors sure can be great, huh? Listen to them – they know things.

My reading list is split down the middle, with my current reads down to one history book and one space science book at a time. 

Current Books:

History: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front is a novel that many of you may be familiar with, as it is considered by many to be a classic, if not the WWI novel – it even had a movie adaptation! For those not familiar, it is a fictional first person point-of-view WWI novel inspired by the author’s own real life experience as a German war veteran of WWI. A quick hit and widely read around the world since its first publication in 1928, it was banned in Germany for coming off as anti-German, or more so for seeming anti-Nazi leading into WWII. For those interested, it is a short novel of only 200 pages on German soldier perspectives from a man who was relatively fresh from the war (published only 10 years after the end of the war).

I’m not very far into the book yet, but so far it is a bit . . . less interesting than I anticipated with all the hype. What keeps me reading is my interest in the perspective and experience of the soldiers (both fictional and the author). I’m hoping it gets more interesting as I go on, but to be fair, war novels have never been a topic of interest for me.

Since I’m not done with the novel, I’ll give you a random quote from it:

I sit up, I feel myself starngely alone. It’s good Kat is there. He gazes thoughtfully at the front and says: “Mighty fine fire-works if they weren’t so dangerous.”
One lands behind us. Some recruits jump up terrified. A couple of minutes later another comes over, nearer this time. Kat knocks out his pipe. “We’re in for it.”

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, page 33

Buy it HERE (with Amazon Smile and selecting LHS as your charity, 0.5% of your purchase goes to LHS as a donation!)
Love & Hate Article HERE
1930 Movie trailer HERE

Science: Out There by Michael Wall, PhD

The front cover in its entirety reads, “Out There: A scientific guide to alien life, antimatter, and human space travel (for the cosmically curious)” but I thought that would be a bit too much to initially start off with. Out There is a fun take on life in the universe and what kinds of life are possible. While longer than the above book at 234 pages, the print is larger and has been quick to read so far. The topics are serious and properly addressed, but in a not-to-serious manner that makes it fun and interesting, and most of all not too dry or complicated for the layperson to keep up with. 

So far I’m really enjoying this one, but I do sometimes wish the author spent less time joking around and more time getting to the point. At times it seems like 3 paragraphs of quips and jokes could have been summed up in 1-2 sentences, but it’s not always an issue.

One of my favorite quotes from this book that provides a good example of its style comes from early in the book:

Let’s indulge in some wild speculation, because it’s fun! Say Earth has been colonized many times over the eons by greedy, grabby alien civilizations, each of which ground the planet’s native species into the dust in the process. (Don’t get too high and mighty: pioneering humans have tended to wreak ecological havoc as we’ve explored the globe.) As astrophysicist and sci-fi author David Brin has pointed out, a history of such oppression could explain why it took intelligent life so long to arise on our planet as well as the radio silence in our galactic neighborhood. Maybe Earth is the only planet for light-years around to have recovered from the ravages of invasion.

If you squiint a little, this scenario lines up with the five mass exctinctions that scientists have indentified in the fossil record. . . .

. . . Brin didn’t mean to suggest that any of this actually happned, and neither do I. There’s no evidence that it did – no spacecraft entombed in ancient amber, no ruins of a 200-million-year-old city – and I certainly wouldn’t put any money on it. But it’s possible.

Out There by Michael Wall, PhD, page 13-14

Buy it HERE (with Amazon Smile and selecting LHS as your charity, 0.5% of your purchase goes to LHS as a donation!)
Review of the book HERE

Read with me!

Next on my reading list:

Leave me a comment about your thoughts if you’ve read any of these books, or give me some suggestions on future reads!

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