I thought I should make a post with 3 Books You Should Read, because I’ve read two very interesting books recently and I bought a new one last week. All three books sound very interesting and were published this year. If you’ve read my post about the kind of books I prefer from a few months back, it’s not a mystery why all three are non-fiction. For the last two books, the reviews can be found on my book blog: Coffee & Books.
Books You Should Read: A Lab of One’s Own. Science and Suffrage in the First World War by Patricia Fara
Blurb: “Many extraordinary female scientists, doctors, and engineers tasted independence and responsibility for the first time during the First World War. How did this happen? Patricia Fara reveals how suffragists including Virginia Woolf’s sister, Ray Strachey, had already aligned themselves with scientific and technological progress, and that during the dark years of war they mobilized women to enter conventionally male domains such as science and medicine. Fara tells the stories of women including mental health pioneer Isabel Emslie, chemist Martha Whiteley, a co-inventor of tear gas, and botanist Helen Gwynne Vaughan. Women were carrying out vital research in many aspects of science, but could it last?”
I didn’t read this book. I bought it last week, when I attended a seminar with the same name, organized by LivWiSE, University of Liverpool. After hearing Patricia Fara talk for an hour, I knew I had to buy the book, especially as she was signing books after the talk.
Dr Patricia Fara is a lecturer at the history of science at Cambridge University, where she is a Fellow of Clare College. She is the President of the British Society for the History of Science (2016-18). In her book she tells the stories of less known women, not the ones that all know about, the land girls, the canary girls (munition factory workers), but she tells the stories of scientists and medics. It’s due to them that we can all study and get jobs in STEM, if we want to.
I was very impressed with Dr. Fara and I’ve agreed with everything she said. So I’m very excited to read this book and this is why I mentioned it here.
A Lab of One’s Own can be bought from amazon. It was published by Oxford University Press and it has 352 pages.
Books You Should Read: Enlightenment now. The case for reason, science, humanism and progress by Steven Pinker
Blurb:”Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? In this elegant assessment of the human condition in the third millennium, cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases. Instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing.
Far from being a naïve hope, the Enlightenment, we now know, has worked. But more than ever, it needs a vigorous defense. The Enlightenment project swims against currents of human nature–tribalism, authoritarianism, demonization, magical thinking–which demagogues are all too willing to exploit. Many commentators, committed to political, religious, or romantic ideologies, fight a rearguard action against it. The result is a corrosive fatalism and a willingness to wreck the precious institutions of liberal democracy and global cooperation.”
This is not the first book I read about Pinker and will not be the last either. I do enjoy his style. This book makes you think and its arguments are based on statistics. It’s easy to think that things are getting worse by looking at the news, but the reality is far from that. Even if you see through the sensationalism journalists feel the need to use when reporting, bad things happen. But they happen less and have a smaller impact. This is what he shows in his statistics. I think we should be celebrating our progress, but unless this becomes mainstream, the availability bias makes us think it’s all gloom and doom.
Books You Should Read: The colour of time by Dan Jones and Marina Amaral
Blurb: “From the mid-19th century, many of the most celebrated moments and personalities in modern history – from Gettysburg to Hiroshima, and from Lincoln to Churchill – have been captured for posterity by the camera lens.
Marina Amaral uses digital techniques, underpinned by painstaking research, to colourise 200 such images embracing an entire century of world history. The results are revelatory, transforming the monochrome of early photography into the vibrant hues of real life. Statesmen and soldiers, as well as the faces of hundreds of ordinary people, thus appear in dramatically vivid guise. The images are organized in ten chronological chapters. Each image is accompanied by a 200-word caption by best-selling historian Dan Jones, telling the stories behind them.
A fusion of amazing pictures and well-chosen words, The Colour of Time offers a unique – and often beautiful – perspective on the past.”
I think the blurb says it all. It was a lovely book, with amazing looking pictures that look life-like. Using these imagines, you can see the history in a different way. I did enjoy looking at the pictures and the descriptions are long enough to give you enough details.
These are my recommendations of books you should read. Have you read any of them or do you plan to? I would love to hear your thoughts about this.