These are the books I read during the beautiful autumn months of April & May. I was going to attempt Stephen King’s The Stand but I chickened out. I don’t quite have the time for that many pages at the moment! Who are these people on YouTube who read it in 24 hours?!
The Hidden Life of Trees – Peter Wohlleben
Wohlleben’s passion and respect for trees is contagious. I picked this book for the science, but I soon discovered that this book would be confronting and thought provoking. The Hidden Life of Trees raises important questions – do trees really feel? can they know things? are they more like humans than we realise? what other secrets are we yet to discover about trees?
Incredible facts about trees:
- Trees support each other – if one of them is sick the others can share their nutrients to nourish it back to health
- Trees communicate with each other via scent and electrical impulses in their root systems – this allows them to warn each other of predators
- Trees have mothers and the mother trees intentionally prevent the younger trees from growing too quickly
- If a tree is thirsty it screams
- Trees can learn – if they can can experience things it implies they must have some sort of memory
- Trees sense time by counting the number of warm days – this is how they know spring has sprung
I found this a difficult read because I would learn something insane about trees and actually have to stop and process it before I could absorb more. Mind blowing.
I was really upset because at the time I was reading this book I walked past a construction site where a giant palm tree had been cut down and thrown straight into a wood chopper. The crunching and grinding sounds sent shivers down my spine as I thought about that poor tree.
The Remarkable Life of the Skin – Monty Lyman
Similar to The Hidden Life of trees, this book is enlightening and full of amazing facts about our largest organ, the skin. Our skin is a barrier that holds in water, keeps us hydrated and prevents infections getting in.
I thought this book was going to be scientific but it was surprisingly accessible for anyone with a general interest on the topic. Anyone who knows me knows why I chose this book: I’m obsessed with protecting my skin from sun damage. I hate the sun!
Incredible facts about the skin:
- Skin cells have internal clocks that help them prepare for the next day & they can switch on genes that aid in UV protection during the day
- Eat late at night and you can actually confuse these genes, impacting UV protection!
- A difference in the structure of collagen fibres under the skin is the reason more women than men suffer from cellulite
- We lose 1% of the collagen in our skin each year from our 20s, and this accelerates at 40
- our mental health can have a big impact on our skin – stress can cause a number of horrible skin issues
Lyman covers so much more than the mere function of the skin. Topics like sun damage, tattooing and the impact of our skin on human social interactions are explored.
Our skin combines function and form to make a beautiful barrier.
Half Life – Jillian Cantor
You have a choice. There is always a choice.
This book explores the notion of choice and how our decisions change the future. It tells two concurrent stories: the real life story of Marie Curie (the author did make some artistic changes) and the life that could have been if she chose love in Poland over science in France as Marya Sklodowska.
It really does make you think and appreciate Marie Curie’s dedication to push the limits of science and her discoveries that continue to save millions of lives today.
If you’re looking for a great story you can escape with then I highly recommend this book. If you have an appreciation for females in STEM you’ll also enjoy this one. I also enjoyed the film “Radioactive“.
Ultralearning – Scott H. Young
Your deepest moments of happiness don’t come from doing easy things; they come from realizing your potential and overcoming your own limiting beliefs about yourself.
This book is about is self directed learning to acquire difficult skills in an intense period of time. It attracted me with the sub-title and description on Amazon but I realised this book wasn’t quite for me. I love learning but I’m not interested in cramming an intense learning project into my hectic schedule.
I found the practical examples quite diluted. If this was my book I would have provided the strategies in each chapter backed up with real life case studies at the end of each chapter for maximum inspiration.
Having said that, I did take some interesting things from this book:
- Some of the most successful ‘ultralearners’ are successful because of their dedication to push that little bit further than the average person to solve a problem
- Structure your learning so you produce something – this is more direct than opting for classes or books
- Attack your weakest points
- Seek feedback but think critically about which feedback is useful and which you should tune out to (this is an important skill to have in product)
I admire the author and his friend spending a year travelling with NO English. If I can get back to France any time soon, maybe I will challenge myself to NO English!!!
Reading Challenge: 16 of 32 books