Walden — Henry David Thoreau

After reading Into the Wild, where this book gets a fair bit of mentioning, one just had to see what all the fuss was about.

It certainly starts off incredibly well with the first 25% of the book — being mostly one chapter titled, “Economy” — explaining the ins and outs of what leads Thoreau to Walden Pond and away from a normal life and the cost of doing so.   And it is very clear in this first quarter that Thoreau is a very capable writer who can get straight to the heart of the matter and keep the reader’s attention.

But then we begin the second chapter, “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”, and thus the tedium begins: word after word of pointless, boring tedium.   Was it so utterly dull for him sitting by the pond, day after day after day with no one to talk to, that he just sat and wrote words for hour upon hour and simply spewed them forth upon pages enough to make up a reasonable amount to call it a book in order to sell it so he didn’t have to get a real job?

I just found myself reading paragraph after paragraph with a totally numbed out mind, noticing only a few words of interest here and there but mostly it’s just babble: babble, babble, babble, babble, blah, blah, blah.   I tried, i really did, but i just cannot see why people so rave about this book.

Maybe chapter 3 onwards is back to the standard of chapter 1, but i simply could not get through chapter 2.

So, inevitably, it got …


Henry’s Page

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Revolution — William Manners

As a lifelong cyclist who has never owned a car i was so looking forward to reading this and i wasn’t disappointed.

Overall, simply an excellently researched book on the birth of cycling in the UK, especially focusing on the boom years of the 1890’s.

And as much as this should be in every cyclist’s book collection, it should also be in every feminist’s book collection.   The history of the bicycle would not be complete without it being placed, centre stage, in those early years of women’s freedom and suffrage.

All hail the humble bicycle: a true vehicle of freedom and the most efficient form of transport ever invented.   Nothing will propel you for so little watts per mile as a well manufactured and maintained bicycle can.   It has well and truly stood the test of time.

As H.G. Wells once remarked: Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.

Long live the bicycle.

William’s Page

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Learn to Lucid Dream — Kristen LaMarca PhD

A really well put together book detailing many techniques to improve your dream-time and begin to lucid dream.

Sleep is such an important part of living — sadly a most neglected part by many people.   Subsequently, our dream-time is even more neglected within that neglect.   You do the maths: neglect2 = seriously fucked up!

Our dreams are such an important part of our health and well being, so it’s no wonder so many people have become so sick, ill and on medications when sleep and dreaming is so utterly neglected.

Kristen’s Page

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Enchanted Britain — Marc Alexander

I thought this would be interesting, and the first chapter was certainly promising.   Then we get onto chapter 2 and it just bangs on and on and on and on and on and on and on about some fictional characters called Jesus and Joseph and the claims of the christians and about churches and abbots and abbeys and all this holy grail nonsense.

I could go on a rant here but i have no wish to read about the beliefs and nonsense of christianity.   The Pagan people of Britain have had the beliefs and nonsense of the christians forced down our throats for nearly 2000 years and i don’t buy books to read more of it.

Needless to say, i didn’t get to the end of the second chapter and i have no wish to read any more of this book.


Marc’s Page

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How to Draw Absolutely Anything Activity Book — ILYA

Not anything like i was expecting.

I bought this because i’ve just gotten back into drawing after nearly 30 years of not doing any and i thought it might help a little.   I was expecting a book about how to draw, literally, but this isn’t really about that.

This book is more about working on your expectations and why you draw in the first place.   It’s more about drawing as just something you should do and what it should mean when it becomes as normal to living as eating and drinking.   What’s the point in drawing if you don’t know why you’re drawing?

What are you drawing for?   What do you really want to draw and why?

These are a few questions that the book made think about without directly asking them.

So don’t expect a book that tells you how to hold your pencil properly or what lead you should use on what paper, expect a book about your expectations and then go and draw something, anything, it doesn’t matter, just draw.

To sum this book up nicely would be this quote from the last few pages:

DON’T SAY “I can’t draw” especially when what you mean is, “I don’t draw.” DON’T SAY that either.

ILYA’s Page

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How Emotions Are Made — Lisa Feldman Barrett

A very interesting look into how Lisa currently believes our brains create our emotions.   Lisa pushes well against the tide of established beliefs and makes a fairly good case for her theories.

But, we’ll probably throw this one on the “scrap-head-of-wild-scientific-ideas-that-came-and-went” in a few years time, along with all the other thoughts that currently suit the zeitgeist.

Interesting though.

Lisa’s Page

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A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees — Yoshida Kenkō

This small book is a selection of quotes from Essays in Idleness.

The writer begins the book with this statement:

What strange folly, to beguile the tedious hours like this all day before my ink stone, jotting down at random the idle thoughts that cross my mind …

We are then regaled with a selection of those random thoughts, and quite good thoughts some of them are too.

Although written approx 1330 in Japan, a lot of these thoughts are as relevant today in the wider world as they were back then.   Yes, admittedly, some might be a bit dated and endemic but there are some very timeless thoughts for the modern, wider world to enjoy as well.

There’s also a delightful curmudgeonliness to the thoughts, like you’re listening to your favourite grand parent having a rant about what’s bothering them this week.

I shall certainly get a copy of Essays in Idleness and have a full read of Yoshida Kenkō’s thoughts.

Kenkō’s Page

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