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Book Reviews

Book Review: A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

A Brief History of Time is one of those books I’ve been intending to read since it came out in the late eighties. I finally got around to it, and I’m happy to say it was worth the wait.

The book is about physics, and the nature of the universe. It takes a high-level look at everything from classical interpretations of physics to what we knew about the physical world towards the end of the twentieth century, when the work was published.

Topics covered include space and time, the expanding universe, the uncertainty principle, elementary particles and the forces of nature, black holes, the origin and fate of the universe, the arrow of time, wormholes and time travel, and how the different theories in modern physics might one day be unified.

Some of the narrative is mind-boggling, because many of the subjects discussed are impossible to visualise or imagine. There are also some difficult concepts to digest, like quantum mechanics. These aren’t covered in depth, but non-physicists will probably have to reread these sections a few times in order to comprehend what is being said.

Would I recommend the book? A resounding yes! If you have ever opened your eyes and wondered about the world and your place in the universe, this book will give you some incredible insights and food for thought. Stephen Hawking’s dry sense of wit makes it even more readable and enjoyable.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Making Memories

The Art of Making Memories by Meik Wiking.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

The Art of Making Memories is a book that teaches us how we can create more memorable moments in life, and do everything we can to preserve them. It’s a fascinating look into what memories are, and why we remember the things we do.

This is the second work I have read by Meik Wiking, who is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen. It’s a beautifully written and illustrated mini-tome, packed with facts, tips, and wonderfully nostalgic photographs.

One of the funniest parts is the section where Wiking compares football to origami. I’ve never been a fan of football, so I really appreciated this. I found it clever, and hilarious. The bit about the paper cut was pure gold.

The book ends with a guide to planning out your own happy and memorable year, something I would like to try when 2021 is drawing to a close and the promise of 2022 is just below the horizon.

I recommend reading The Art of Making Memories. It seems especially resonant at the moment, given the ongoing lockdowns, and their accompanying feelings of nostalgia.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Witch Bottle

Witch Bottle by Tom Fletcher.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Witch Bottle is the story of Daniel, a man who is haunted by an event that took place in his childhood. He isn’t just haunted in a figurative sense, he is literally pursued by a shambling hooded figure that turns up regularly until Daniel places a witch bottle beneath his patio. For a while, that helps, but it isn’t the end of his problems.

The opening chapter was worrying for me, because I found it too unbelievable, and if I had been in a bookshop I probably would have put it back on the shelf. However, this was given to me as a gift, so I persevered, and I’m glad I did.

Fletcher’s writing style is clean and tight, very appealing, with a strong sense of place. I loved the ordinariness and familiarity of the northern setting, and the everyday events as Daniel goes about his business delivering milk for The Bean and magic remedies for Kathryn, his witch girlfriend. It’s clear that something isn’t quite right about the area, but the reader is kept guessing until near the end.

I recommend Witch Bottle. It does have a supernatural element that more grounded readers might find hard to swallow, but having said that, Fletcher is an excellent writer, and that kept me hooked.

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