Book 178: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Finished reading on June 24th, 2015

Rating: 10/10

The only way to start reading a book that is over a thousand pages long is without knowing anything about it and hoping to find out more by actually reading it … right?

I still find myself struggling a little with the idea of actually reading a book holding of which is enough exercise for your wrists for days – it seems unlikely to ever finish a huge long humongous novel.

However as soon as I got through the first pages of the book I found myself being just a tiny bit bored – trains? Seriously? Metal? Oh no…. that’s what I thought at first. But the first time I picked the book up I kept reading for a couple of hours and after the first moment and scare of dying of boredom while reading it, I got hooked on it – there’s a strong intelligent female lead who isn’t afraid of physics and engineering!

And then there is the story itself – you read and read and get used to one part of the story and then there’s an unexpected twist which makes you keep on reading to see what happens.

There’s relationships, there’s philosophy, politics, economic etc in the book and it’s just wonderful with the sense of doom lurking there.

For those who’re looking to find out about the plot: it’s about industrialists for whom life is being made difficult by the government and a time of emergency and ridiculous laws while the whole country is in chaos, could even say that it’s a dystopia where you see a little of why communism wouldn’t work in real life.

The philosophy in the book is fascinating – if you’re not pro individualism, you might not like it…

What I loved was that you see people who love their work and who don’t want to give up no matter what happens, and then there are characters who make work a nightmare for everyone.
It is certainly a book that makes you think about life, people, needs, sacrifices and work.

If you have the time to spare, I’d highly recommend reading this book.

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Book 177: Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Finished reading on June 20th, 2015

Rating: 7/10

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I figured I’d look into some more graphic books and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm’s “Trinity” seemed to me the perfect thing to start with as I’m quite familiar with the topic having read some biographies of the scientists behind the Manhattan project.

This short graphic book strikes me as surprisingly well balanced between history, science, politics and people behind the project- you find out a little about all of it in a way that won’t leave you grabbing for an encyclopedia unless you really really want to.

The black and white artwork is lovely and the historical figures are quite recognizable.

What I found as the biggest problem was that I would have liked it to deal with everything just a little bit longer and in more depth, but I guess that is also one of the better parts of it – you get a taste for it and to find out more you can turn to the books listed at the end of this one.

Book 176: Moondust by Andrew Smith

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“Moondust” by Andrew Smith

Finished reading on June 13th, 2015

Rating: 7/10

If you’ve ever wondered what became of the astronauts who flew to the Moon and landed there, then this is the book that will give you the answers.

This book, first published in 2002, looks a bit at what happened to the Apollo mission astronauts – whether or not going to the Moon changed them and how they deal and have dealt with one trip to the Moon in their thirties being the most important thing they’re known for.

I found the book interesting, as you see the different characters and later life decisions and since the author gives quite a lot of background events that happened at around the time of Apollo missions, you see the astronauts as human beings.

The book did have a quite sad undertone as you see how the astronauts’ marriages fell apart and some of the astronauts took up one business after another not really finding the right thing to do while others did end up finding something like Buzz Aldrin and Alan Bean and John Young.

While Neil Armstrong arguably the most famous astronaut didn’t really communicate much with the media or give autographs or appear in documentaries, Buzz Aldrin is still a space-advocate but who had to go through quite a rough time after coming back from the Moon. As Michael Collins orbited the Moon while his colleagues were on the Moon, he doesn’t get much mention in the book, as it is focused on the ones who actually got to walk on the lunar surface.

Out of the astronauts portrayed I would Alan Bean one of the more interesting ones as he became a space artist depicting what he saw on the Moon. And then there are the more curious characters who got into religion after coming back… Quite a curious bunch of moon-men…. But you can find out more in the book.

In general though it left me with the thought of whether it’s better to have a totally average life where nothing extraordinary is achieved or is it still preferred to have something totally awesome that you’ll be known for the rest of your life, but that you might never be able to outdo?

Book 175: Beyond by Chris Impey

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Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

Finished reading on June 6th, 2015

Rating: 10/10

If you’re even just a tiny bit interested in or intrigued by space travel then this is definitely a must read that grips with it’s wide scope and fast pace and won’t leave you resenting mathematical equations you don’t want to concentrate on, as there are no ( in fact there’s E=mc2, but that’s all and it isn’t explained) equations you need to pay much heed to.

The book starts with the past and ends up looking far into the future. In the beginning you get a glimpse into the space race between the US and the Soviet Union and even before that into the history of rocketry (don’t worry, you won’t have to understand rocket science to read this part!).

After the first few chapters of bits about history we get to the present and get an overview of basically who’s up and coming on the space scene – how NASA and Roscosmos are faring and how the Chinese are catching up and possibly might lead the way back to the Moon, but you also get to read about the major players in commercial spaceflight and about the people behind it – Burt Rutan, Elon Musk and Richard Branson to name the major players.

At about the middle you get to the prospects for future – is it likely humankind will colonize the Moon or Mars and how can we get there and how would terraforming work anyway? The book dips into technologies that aren’t yet feasible, and also looks at some other interesting topics/problems the future might hold – is there life on other planets? Has humankind survived the most crucial and dangerous part of it’s evolution or is it still ahead of us?

“Beyond” is an excellent book both for it’s choice of content and for the writing – it’s simple enough yet not too basic and the topics follow in a logical order and fast enough so even when you don’t particularly care for history or SETI or any of the smaller topics covered, you’ll be through with it soon enough anyway.