Book 36: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

The Wind-Up Bird ChronicleThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

Finished reading February 19, 2013

Rating 8/10

Some books take forever to finish. For me those books seem to be the ones spanning over more than 400 pages. They seem a bit frightening to say the least, as I never know whether I’ll survive reading it.

The same was with “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle”. It is interesting enough, but there’s not much suspense to keep you going page after page.

The characters are vivid and there’s enough mystery about them to leave a nagging feeling that there’s something not quite right.

The book is about a man, who in the course of the book gets the nick-name Mr. Wind-Up Bird. His cat has gone missing, he has quit his job and to top it off his wife leaves him. So the moral of the story: don’t lose your cat if you want your relationship to survive. Only joking, that’s not the moral of the story, at least I hope it isn’t.

In about 600 pages one gets to read about the protagonists search for himself and his wife and about all the curious people who suddenly appear in his life bearing such unusual names.

It reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” for some reason, with it’s odd happenings…

 

 

Book 35: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

PIMG_7950“Mornings in Jenin” by Susan Abulhawa

Finished reading February 14th, 2013

Rating 10/10

I wish this was a book that everyone would read.  It’s difficult to describe why.

It’s about everything in my view, although it’s mostly death and destruction followed by a moment to catch your breath and then death again. It feels somehow universal, as if the book would have encompassed the whole humanity. It might sound out of proportion though…

“Mornings in Jenin” is about several generations of a Palestinian family whose lives have been affected by the emergence of Israel, having to leave their ancestors land and house to stay in a refugee camp, live out their lives under military curfew, lose their parents and children and what could be seen as a “normal life”.

It is rather fast-paced and every time you’re hoping for a happy ending, it fails to come and instead there’s something worse and the constant though or underestimation that “it’s unfair”.

Book 34: The Prophet and the Astronomer by Marcelo Gleiser

PIMG_7930“The Prophet and the Astronomer” by Marcelo Gleiser

Finished reading February 13, 2013

Rating 7/10

The Prophet and the Astronomer is a mix of cosmology, religion and history of astronomy. As such it’s an interesting read and a good way to extend and connect your knowledge from two different fields – astronomy and religion.

I particularly liked  the first chapters where it dealt with all the ways in which the world could end, both what some religions say and how it might actually come about – comet maybe? or the asteroid flying past us on Friday? Anyhow that was the part I enjoyed the most, as it had some new information for me.

The book ends with quite a lot of cosmology, so one might find it bothersome without sufficient knowledge beforehand, there’s no real mathematics or formulas you’d need to know, but it’s just theoretical physics shown at it’s best in the quest to understand the universe or multiverse we live in…

It has a lot of helpful schematics and is easy to read and even if you already know quite a bit about cosmology or prophets predicting an apocalypse, it is still interesting enough so you wouldn’t fall asleep while reading it.

Book 33: Falling to Earth by Al Worden

 

PIMG_7727Falling to Earth by Al Worden with Francis French

Finished reading 5.02.2013

Rating 9/10

Falling to Earth must be one of the latest books about an Apollo mission, this one about Apollo 15’s command module pilot Al Worden.

As far as astronauts go, there wasn’t much of a variety in their education, so West Point and Air Force was it for Worden too. And then a foreign exchange program in UK, from which he was pulled out and into NASA’s astronaut corps.

That’s the part where the fun starts… Well sort of… The descriptions of training and preparing for the mission are some of the best parts of the book together with the moon-flight itself.

I especially liked the part, where Al’s crew-mates have just docked with the command module in lunar orbit and are getting ready to head back to Earth, and he mentions that he’d rather want to be orbiting the moon solo even longer, instead of getting back home.

I got thinking that had it been me, then without a sufficient supply of books I’d not really find the desolation around the Moon all that satisfying, even if i’d get to operate the scientific instruments that they had on the command module.

I wonder whether it was more difficult for all the Apollo moonwalkers to go back to earth than it was for those astronauts, who didn’t get to go down to the surface… after all the command module pilots got to do a lot of orbits around the Moon, have a nice view… but the guys who went down – they did it once and then got back up after some time and could never go back…

Well, the book continues after Apollo 15, but for Worden it was almost only down the hill from there, giving something more to think about – profiting from space missions, tensions in NASA astronaut’s corps (that’s an issue in Mike Mullane’s “Riding Rockets” too), or the once an astronaut – always an astronaut issue.

As any great book, this book makes you dream, maybe not of a brighter tomorrow, but a dustier lonelier place where you can enjoy an Earth-rise….