“The Madness of Cambyses” by Herodotus, transl. by Tom Holland

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), my review of this book will be very short because I don’t remember much about it. I could have avoided posting a review of it, but because the intent of my blog is to record everything I read (at least all the books), I must post a review. So here it is.

Genre:

Nonfiction — History

Pubbed:

Penguin Little Black Classics, N⁰ 78 = 2015
The Histories, transl. by Tom Holland = 2013
The Histories by Herodotus = c. 440 B.C. (Who knows?)

From the back of the book:

Weaving factual account with colourful myth, the ‘father of history’ tells of the psychotic Persian king — and his fateful death. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Certainly an interesting read, but I didn’t care for it. I attempted to read Herodotus’s The Histories once before because I’d read somewhere that it’s like the gossip pages of the classical world, so I picked it up to see what juicy tales Herodotus would tell me. I forgot which translated version I attempted to read back then, but I was very bored after a few pages and gave up because I didn’t really care to read it. I was just being nosy.

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“The Way I Heard It” by Mike Rowe

I totally read this book because the Dirty Jobs guy wrote it.

The book was unexpected. I only know the dude as the Dirty Jobs guy and didn’t know much else about him, but I liked him because of the show and was curious to see what he’d written about. When I realized the book was actually a bunch of vignettes about famous people throughout history, I was sold. I like books like this because I often end up learning something I didn’t know before. I even learned stuff about the Dirty Jobs dude.

Genre:

Nonfiction – History

Pubbed:

2019

Goodreads summary:

Executive producer and host Mike Rowe presents a delightfully entertaining, seriously fascinating collection of his favorite episodes from America’s #1 short-form podcast, The Way I Heard It, along with a host of personal memories, ruminations, and insights. It’s a captivating must-read.

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“The Colors of History: How Colors Shaped the World” by Clive Gifford, illus. Marc-Étienne Peintre

The Colors of History is one of the best picture books I read in 2019. It is also the least popular book I read that year, so I hope this review will get more people interested in it to share with kids.

As the title says, this is a nonfiction book all about colors and their impact and use throughout history.

Genre:

Children’s Nonfiction — Art; History

Pubbed:

2018

Goodreads summary:

Why did Roman emperors wear purple? Which color is made from crushed beetles? What green pigment might be used to build super-fast computers of the future?

Find out the answers to these and many more questions in this vibrant exploration of the stories behind different colors, and the roles they’ve played throughout history. From black to white, and all the colors in between, every shade has a story to tell. Each color group is introduced with a stunning and interpretive double-page spread illustration, followed by illustrated entries exploring the ‘colorful’ history of particular shades. With vivid, thought-provoking illustrations and engaging bite-sized text, this book is a feast for the eyes and the mind, ready to enthrall budding artists and historians alike. (Goodreads)

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“The Secret Lives of Color” by Kassia St. Clair

This is one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read this year. I learned much from it, and I’m glad I own a copy. Not only is it a great read that presents facts about a common topic in an engaging way, but I also love the design and format of the book.

The edition I own is a white, naked hardback with spots of color on it. From a distance, one gets the impression that it has a dust jacket that hides a rainbow cover beneath. The cover is appealing and matches well the title — The Secret Lives of Color.

Indeed, it is as if we are being told scandalous tales about colors, in some cases. I was unaware of most of the information I learned from this book, which covers 75 colors, shades, and hues and shares fascinating stories and facts about each. The book is divided into broad color families. A section is dedicated to each — white, yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, blue, green, brown, black — with chapters within each section that discuss variations of the particular color. For example, the first color discussed is white. First, we get an overview of the color as an introduction to the section, and then we begin a chapter on a variation/type of the color. The first is lead white, the second chapter is on ivory, and the third is about silver. The amount of chapter in each section varies, but the chapters are no more than three or four pages, and each page contains a simple border in the color being discussed.

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“Mother of the Sea” by Zetta Elliott

Mother of the Sea is another one-sitting read I completed a couple weeks ago. I forgot why I decided to read it then, probably because I wanted something quick, but I bought the book after seeing it featured in this booktube video.

Genre:

YA fantasy; Historical fiction

Pubbed:

2017

Goodreads summary:

When her village is raided, a teenage girl finds herself on a brutal journey to the coast of Africa and across the Atlantic. Her only comfort is a small child who clings to her for protection. But once they board the slave ship, the child reveals her rebellious nature and warns that her mother — a fierce warrior — is coming to claim them all. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

“When the skinless men leave, the taste of salt lingers on her lips.”

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Philosopher Book Tag

Have you ever checked your stats to see what weird terms lead people to your blog? I do. I did that a while ago, saw that someone found my blog by searching for “natire book tag” (I guess they were searching for a nature book tag) and decided to google that too to see where it led. It led to various book tags and since I enjoy doing such posts, I decided to do one here today — the Philosopher Book Tag! It’s the first I’ve ever heard of it. I found it on Crooked Fingers, a Live Journal blog, but it was created by Between Lines & Life, a booktube channel.

Philosophy was one of my favorite subjects in school and it’s something I’m still interested in and still try to read up on from time to time, though not as often as I’d like. I’m not well versed in philosophy, so I’m not sure this tag will go well since I didn’t read all the questions before starting.

Thales is considered the first known philosopher.
Which text introduced you to philosophy or which text would you like to read to get you into philosophy?

“Nature” and “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain: History’s Unknown Chapters” by Giles Milton

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His BrainThe second nonfiction book I’ve read this year and it was quite fun. When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain is a history book about facts not commonly discussed. The book is divided into two sections, which are further divided into several parts, and are composed of short essays that are no more than 3- or 4-pages long.

The book is a quick read, coming in at 261 pages, which includes lists of suggested readings for the topics covered. Most of the essays are written in a light-hearted tone with jabs thrown at certain figures whose actions seem a bit comical. Other times, a serious tone is affected when the events and figures being discussed are placed in either inhumane or dire situations.

I enjoyed reading this book. I picked it up by chance while visiting the library because the title caught my attention. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was glad to find that it is easy to read because of the short, snappy essays and that it’s quite entertaining as well. I also like that we are given some background details to better understand why an event occurred or why a person did something.

Of the essays, these stood out the most to me:

“When Hitler Took Cocaine,” which talks about Hitler’s cocaine addiction as well as the concoction of drugs his personal physician, Theodor Morell, fed him. The last sentence in this essay is pretty interesting:

“It is ironic that the man charged with restoring Hitler to good health probably did more than anyone else to contribute to his decline.”

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Comics Roundup #7: monk — keys

Rasputin, Vol. 1Rasputin, Vol. 1: The Road to the Winter Palace by Alex Grecian, illus. by Riley Rossmo

Genre:

Supernatural

Quick summary:

A supernatural retelling of Rasputin’s story. Rasputin was a member of the Romanov court under Nicholas II’s monarchy in Russia. He served as an adviser and healer for he was the only person who was able to cure prince Alexie, who was a hemophiliac. However, Rasputin was given the moniker “mad monk” because it’s purported that he was crazy. His actions were extreme, unusual, and sometimes cruel.

In this comic, Russian folklore is mixed with history to provide a backstory for Rasputin and an explanation for his odd personality and abilities. He is a healer in this story, but that ability is pushed a little further because he’s able to revive those who are at the edge of life. However, each time that Rasputin revives someone, he takes a bit of that person with him, hence his varied personality.

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“World History for Dummies” by Peter Haugen

Available on Amazon and at your local book store.
Available on Amazon and at your local book store.

I wasn’t planning to write anything on this book but I read it as part of my Goodreads 2013 reading challenge and since I blogged about every other book thus far I thought, why the hell not. This one was a re-read. I loved World History for Dummies the first time I read it and enjoyed my re-read too.

Now, the popular question: WHY read a book called World History for Dummies??

The answer: I was craving history. I wanted a quick run-down of history. I wanted to know what happened without it being boring and stuffy. I wanted it all to be fun. (Textbooks tend not to be fun.)

It’s not because I am unfamiliar with world history that I decided to read this book. It’s because I wanted a refresher without being bogged down. I wanted to read a book that would leave me wanting to know more, not turn me off the subject. World History for Dummies did that. It is written for the everyday girl who has a passing interest in history. Like, she woke up one morning and said to herself, “I want to learn world history today. What should I read?”

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