Category Archives: Books and Reading

Bill Bryson’s new book

NPR Morning Edition: Bill Bryson’s Latest Is A Different Kind Of Journey — Into ‘The Body’.

“Bill Bryson is beloved for his travel writing, but his new book takes us not to Australia or to Europe or to Iowa, but on a journey inside our own bodies. And it’s called — naturally — The Body. Bryson says he’s genuinely fascinated by the ways our bodies work. “I mean, once you start delving into the body and how it’s put together, and what a miracle life is when you think about it,” he says, “each of us is made up of 37 trillion cells, and there’s nothing in charge. I mean all of those cells, you just have chaotic activity going on, and little chemical signals going from one cell to another. And yet somehow, all this random chaotic activity results in a completely sentient, active, thinking human being.””

NPR Book Review: Bill Bryson’s ‘The Body’ Is Missing His Characteristic Wit, Ingenious Way Of Analysis. By Kamil Ahsan.

“The truth is, it’s just not clear who The Body is for. Is it the sort of book targeted to the children bored by textbooks, or is it targeted to the casual adult reader? Is it meant for people who care for and know about the human body, or is it for people who know nothing about it? It is a strange burden to put on a writer to expect an entirely different book than the one that is present, but for many long-time Bryson fans, this may be exactly the conundrum.

And no matter who the reader is, it is hard to imagine The Body making the kind of incredible impact that A Short History did, especially in a time when so many wonderful books with similar scope exist.”

I loved “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (and many other of Bryson’s books) and was very much looking forward to reading Bryson’s new book, but now I’m not sure I want to read it. The author recommends four other books on the same subject that he thinks are better, so maybe I’ll read one of those instead?

Graphische Biographie zum Humboldt-Jahr

Deutsche Welle: Andrea Wulf: “Humboldt bringt Kunst und Wissenschaft zusammen”. “Ihre Humboldt-Biografie wurde 2015 ein Weltbestseller. Zum Humboldt-Jahr veröffentlicht Andrea Wulf nun ein weiteres Werk über den berühmten Forscher. Mit der DW sprach sie über ihre “illustrierte Entdeckungsreise”.”

“Deutsche Welle: Frau Wulf, Sie haben 2015 mit der Monumentalbiografie “Alexander von Humboldt und die Erfindung der Natur ” einen preisgekrönten Weltbestseller vorgelegt. Was hat Sie veranlasst, sich Humboldt jetzt noch einmal auf ganz andere Weise zu nähern: mit einem farbenprächtigen, opulent illustrierten Buch über seine berühmte Südamerika-Expedition?

Andrea Wulf: Humboldt wird immer gern als Wissenschaftler dargestellt, dabei wird aber vergessen, dass er auch ein Künstler war. Humboldt bringt die Kunst und die Wissenschaft zusammen, und ich wollte ein Buch machen, das das auch wirklich zeigt. Der eigentliche Anlass dafür war, dass Ende 2013 die legendären Südamerika-Tagebücher von Humboldt, die bis dahin in Privatbesitz waren, erstmals der Öffentlichkeit verfügbar gemacht wurden, weil die Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz sie gekauft hat. Sie wurden digitalisiert und waren ab Ende 2014 online verfügbar. Als ich diese Dokumente gesehen habe, hat es mich einfach umgehauen.”

Mirjam Pressler

Deutsche Welle: Schriftstellerin und Übersetzerin Mirjam Pressler ist tot. “Als Übersetzerin war sie international bekannt. Am berühmtesten: ihre deutsche Fassung vom “Tagebuch der Anne Frank”. Nach langer Krankheit ist die Jugendbuchautorin Mirjam Pressler mit 78 Jahren gestorben.”

Die Zeit: Schriftstellerin Mirjam Pressler ist tot. “Sie war eine der erfolgreichsten deutschen Kinder- und Jugendbuchautorinnen. Zudem übersetzte sie mehr als 300 Titel. Mirjam Pressler starb im Alter von 78 Jahren.”

“What is now called resisting is often Americans simply helping others: a concept so alien to the Trump administration that it is labelled as subversive.”

The Globe and Mail Opinion, by Sarah Kendzior: The resistance to Donald Trump is not what you think. “There is no unified, hierarchical group on the periphery trying to overthrow the U.S. government. There are only regular people, in every city, hoping for better, and trying to rescue the America they once knew”.
Sarah Kendzior is the author of The View From Flyover Country and the co-host of the podcast Gaslit Nation.

“There is no question that most Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump and the GOP. The question for November is whether dissent matters in the face of an increasingly autocratic regime, one whose disregard for rule of law is unparalleled in U.S. history, and one that may have engaged in voter suppression and one whose associates are being investigated for whether they collaborated with operatives of hostile states to win the previous election. The midterms have become an existential matter: Will we salvage our damaged democracy, or lose what rights remain? For non-white Americans, immigrants, women, LGBTQ Americans and other groups targeted by the administration, there is nothing abstract about this inquiry.

I spent most of the year on the road in America, and I don’t think we, as a people, are as cruel or mercenary as those who represent us. Political activists and Democrats are not as disorganized as pundits claim. Everything sounds confusing when you listen for a coherent message, and what you hear instead is an anguished cry. But at least that cry is honest. That cry means people still care. The worst sound, these days, is silence.”

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