Book 155: The End of Night by Paul Bogard

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The End of Night by Paul Bogard

Finished reading on November 26th, 2014

Rating:9/10

When you look at the night sky at home, what do you see? Are you able to see the Milky Way or is the sky aglow with street lights and light bouncing off of buildings? This book is about both of them – places that are too bright for astronomers, general public and animals and also about places where you can still have an unobstructed view at the glories of the night sky.

This book deals a lot with light pollution and excessive light during night time looking at different ways it affects us and life around us from disturbing sleep for humans and disturbing the normal life of birds and bats and insects as examples of human activity disturbing nature.

In addition to showing the effects that light pollution has, the reader also finds out more about what can and what has been done in some cases to combat it – from specially designed lights to more smart solutions for street lights during night time – not having the same brightness the whole night through but rather dimming it at times of less human activity or using motion sensors.

Also the author gives some good examples of places where one still can see the night sky, but over all the book paints quite a dark image of the situation.

A particularly interesting part of reducing street lights and the reason it’s mostly opposed to is the fear that criminal activity will increase – as you can find out in the book- there’s really no clear connection between the amount of light and the amount of crime.
Also the fact that the author points out the issue of glare – bright street lights or any other lights that stop you from seeing what is beyond the light in darkness.

I’ve just recently had an occasion to notice that – I was riding my bike to home from work and the street I live in and the next street are well and strongly lit, but just in front of my house is an empty lot where the street lights don’t reach. As I was turning into my street I was strongly startled to hear a dog barking nearby and not being able to see it because of the bright lights shining into my eyes…

But back to the book – it is mostly a downer – although there are good examples of people doing something against light pollution in general the world seems to be becoming a brighter place where the Milky Way can rarely if ever be seen.

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Book 154: Tokyo Bay by Anthony Grey

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Tokyo Bay by Anthony Grey

Finished reading on November 3rd, 2014

Rating: 8/10

Tokyo Bay follows events that took place in 1853 during the first official encounter between the US and Japan after the latter’s more than two-hundred-year-long self-inflicted isolation.

It’s a historic novel with fictional characters, one of whom is Robert Eden, a young naval officer who has gotten fascinated by the mysterious Japan that he is about to see for the first time. Eden has learned Japanese thanks to the help of a Japanese fisherman, Sentaro, who had been rescued on sea by an American craft and brought to America.

The book follows the “negotiations” between the US and Japan, as the first one wants to establish trade relations, while the second doesn’t really want to communicate to the outside world and the “hideous barbarians”.

It isn’t going well for the Americans though, and Eden proposes that he could do a short round on the island in the dark f the night and see what is going on. He’s idea isn’t approved of, but he does it anyway and because of that this book also has a bit of a romance and adventure story vibe to it.

I quite liked the book, especially how Mount Fuji is being used as a powerful symbol, and although it’s a rather long book, it’s not slow, everything happens in about a week, there are bits and pieces of real history in between and it is very interesting.

As a European I didn’t learn about the history of Japan, so the book kept me reading to find out what happened.

There was one specific part I wasn’t too fond of though – the romance part between Robert Eden and a geisha – it seemed a bit rushed and unbelievable.

I got access to this book via Netgalley.com