7 12 2006

Good books are hard to come by and all books are expensive in Zimbabwe. I have spurned the temptation of satellite TV (not difficult due to the cost and repetition factor) and prefer instead to spend my evenings reading, computer programming or when the mood grabs me, gemstone faceting. Mostly I rely on a loose network of other book enthusiasts to garner good reads and when I go out the country a visit to a good bookstore is a childish must and deadly to the credit card. Good quality writing is as important as the story, and yes, I do like a good novel. That’s not to say that non-fiction does not get a look-in, it just requires a bit more research to find what I want. So, taking advantage of this internet usable connection I have through a neighbour’s business, I decided to treat myself to a birthday and Christmas present of some quality science writing. I relied heavily on the book reviews in the Scientific American to which I subscribe and it has proved a sound basis.

Yesterday I received (I could have used “got” but we were always taught to avoid it in English language classes; it was classed as being ugly though not as ugly as “gotten”) a parcel slip from the post office and was delighted today to find out that it was the books I’d ordered only two weeks ago from Amazon. Two are by Richard Dawkins; The God Delusion and The Blind Watchmaker, and the other two are The First Human by Ann Gibbons (no pun intended) and Walking Zero by Chet Raymo. Dawkins has created waves recently with his take no prisoner approach to eviscerating religion in The God Delusion and I’m already nearly 60 pages into it despite it being a slow reading type of book. I’ve also succumbed to temptation with The First Human, an account of the paleoanthropological search into the origins of humankind. Some discipline is required here as I’m already reading Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea which I must add I’ve read twice before but is an incredible book. Again, it requires slow, concentrated reading even though it is so well written that anyone sans a scientific background would understand and enjoy it.

I like to think that I live in awe of no-one. I really don’t want to meet any movie stars or chat to glitterati. I do however admire some people. I am fascinated by the artistic/creative process that allows artists and artistes to be creative in ways I could never imagine. I also admire those who commit to a cause, especially where there is little financial reward – the likes of MSF come to mind. And I would dearly love to be able to craft the written word as well as the authors of the books I have just bought!

I find it incredible that the book format has not changed significantly since Caxton’s day though I do believe that “e-books” are becoming a bit more popular. No doubt they will get more convenient; as many texts as you like on one device. But will they get them to smell the same? There is something about the smell of a new book that is so enticing!



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