“Winter of the world” and “Edge of eternity”, by Ken Follet

I know it has been a really long time without publishing anything in the blog, but I plan to ammend it. As you can imagine, in this time I have read many books (and not so many papers as I should).

I would want to start reviewing the two thickest books I’ve read, from the Century trilogy from Ken Follet. If the “Fall of giants” was about the World War I, this new two books are about the World War II and the Cold War respectively.

The Winter of the World continues with the second generation of the families of the first book. We all can imagine how hard could have been the times around the WWII, but in this case you feel that you have an insight in the most important events of the time: the Blitz in London, the Nazi regime, the Manhattan project… I really liked that in the book one of the characters lives really near to where I leave right now, and in the book Ken Follet talks about the Battle of Cable Street. In East London there was a big jewish community, and the fascist wanted to come by. There was a big anti-fascist movement that tried to stop them, and clashed with the police. It seems that this part of London has been traditionally a place for immigrants, since nowadays it is a Borough with a majority of Bangladeshi.

I didn’t really liked as much the last book, Edge of Eternity. There is much more emphasis in the love story between the characters than in the history happening behind. As in the previous books, we follow the same family through the Cold War with the Cuban Missils and the Berlin Wall, the Civil Rights movement with Martin Luther King, and also the rock scene.

In summary, about the trilogy I can say that I have learned a lot, since I was born nearly at the end of the last book, and although at school I have studied most of the events, it is a good way to refresh what you know and to learn new things. Also the fact that in Spain during that time something else was happening (our Civil War and the following dictatorship) has made it more difficult for me to be informed about everything else in the world.

How to get filthy rich in rising Asia, by Mohsin Hamid

It has been a long time without writing a post, but September is here, and with it my new intention to write again some reviews of the books I have read.

This month in the bookclub we have read “How to get filthy rich in rising Asia” by Mohsin Hamid. Although I have heard a review about “The reluctant fundamentalist” I have never read anything about this author. It has been a nice surprise, since I have really liked the book.

The book is written as a self-help book, thus written in the second person. You are a poor boy from an unknown country in Asia, who moves to the city, falls in love and gets filthy rich. It has 12 chapters, each one with a general recommendation, such as “Get yourself an education” or “Work for yourself”, being each of them a step to get rich. After presenting the general recommendation, the chapters develops in the “you” involved in a story related with the title.

I really liked the way that is written, and the fact that using the satire criticises the corruption  and the capitalism.

To finish, I just wanted to copy an extract, from the beginning of a chapter, where it describes what a book is and how everyone reads it in a different way. Hope you enjoy as much as I did

“… when you read a book, what you see are black squiggles on pulped wood or, increasingly, dark pixels on a pale screen. To transform these icons into characters and events you must imagine. And when you imagine, you create. It’s being read that a book becomes a book, and in each of a million different readings a book becomes one of a million different books, just as an egg becomes one of potentially a million differen people when it’s approached by a hard-swimming and frisky school of sperm”.

The book was published by Penguin books.

Elogio de la bicileta, by Marc Augé

IMG_20140413_132424Today, Sunday, the weather is great; sunny, but not too hot. That’s a great day for going out, and I’m pretty sure that the runners of the London Marathon will love it. I’m not the running type since I’m out of breath after only a few meters. I am more fan of the bicycle (as I already told in a previous post). It gives you the opportunity to move fast, do exercise and enjoy the landscape without spending much money and without contaminating the environment.

But to admire what a bike can provide you, this book is really good. The tittle says it all “Elogio de la bicicleta” (Praise for the bicycle). Sadly the book is not translated into English, but you can read it either in Spanish (Gedisa Editorial), Italian (Bollati Bolinghieri Editore) and French (Rivages Poche) -surprisingly in the three languages of the main bike Tours.

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Ethan Frome, by Edith Wharton

We have been in LOndon for a year already, but it seems as we just arrived yesterday. There are still many things to discover. One of the hardest things I found so far is to meet English people. I have stablished relations with the people of the Tower Hamlets and City group of Amnesty International, and lately we joined a book club (as I mentioned in this other post). The last book we read is Ethan Frome, by Edith Warthon.

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Sleep, a very short introduction by Steven Lockey and Russell Foster

Apart from reading novels, sometimes I spend some time reading scientific books, or at least non-fiction books. This time I have chosen to read the very short introduction about sleep (in the same collection as the Magnetism that Luis reviewed recently).

I am a biologist and at the moment I am studying the circadian clock of the fruit flies (I actually have a blog about it also), so learning something more about sleep is really important. The book covers obviously mostly the human sleep, but also most of the animals have an sleep period during the day (yes, also the flies sleep).

What I really liked about the book is that it makes a point about the importance of having a good sleep, and as a long sleeper, I appreciate that someone reminds everyone that a good night sleep is necessary for being healthy. In the book, they explain also some of the diseases related to circadian clocks, and how sleep deprivation and shift work is related with some cancer types and other physiological problems.

So if you want to live long and be healthy sleep tight.

Zzzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzz

Zzzzzzz zzzzzz zzzzzz

The shape of water, by Andrea Camilleri

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As I already said before, I really like crime novels, so whenever I see a book by one of the best known authors, I can hardly resist. That happened with this one.

The books starts when two poor guys find the body of Silvio Luparello, a politician of Viagata. During the novel, you find out about the corruption and family relationships of Silvio. It represents very carefully the Italian atmosphere.

I’ve read previously some other books by Andrea Camilleri, and I really like his way of writing, but I found this book a bit less exciting than the previous ones. Maybe because it’s the first one of the series. I’ll read some more of his books, but I won’t recommend this one to anyone as the first book to read from Camilleri. The last one I read from him, “The wings of the sphinx” is much better. I like the explanation of the title (I can’t explain it without spoiling some of the details of the book)

The book, with its really nice cover, is published by Pan Macmillan.

Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt

Sometimes, when I’m feeling grumpy, bored or stressed, I like visiting a library or a bookshop. It feels like a sedative. Last time I had that feeling was before Christmas. I was stressed with moving home and moving the lab, when I went into the Whitechapel Library in London. And I found that they have a bookshop, that meets once in a month, and for the meeting in January they were reading Mr Chartwell, by Rebecca Hunt. After estimating the time left until the meeting and taking into consideration the thickness of the book, I decided to give it a try.

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