Tag: Living

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker | Review

Title: The Blind Watchmaker

Author: Richard Dawkins

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 350

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Richard Dawkins - The Blind Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins – The Blind Watchmaker

 

This book has been on my TBR pile for a while, but I finally picked it up as my bedside book and quickly got hooked. Even though it’s a non-fiction science book about evolution, and even though it gets kind of dry times, it was a delight.

Of course, it felt a little outdated at times because Dawkins talked about some computer software he’d created which used a 1989 Apple Macintosh, but it was only the technology that was old. The concepts themselves still hold up today, and while it’s hard for me to pinpoint any specific part of the book that stood out to me, I do feel as though my understanding of evolution as a whole has been dramatically improved.

That’s because Dawkins basically takes all of the arguments against evolution and systematically debunks them, in the same way that he railed against religion in The God Delusion. The Blind Watchmaker is used as an analogy for the way that evolution can build complex physical mechanisms without requiring a designer. So in evolutionary terms, if a watch was a living animal then it could evolve piece by piece over time without requiring a watchmaker (such as an omnipotent god) to design it.

 

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

 

For example, some people will point to eyes and say that you can’t have half an eye and therefore they must have been designed. Dawkins points out that that’s not how eyes developed. It’s easy to see how just having the ability to tell the difference between light and darkness, for example, could make a big difference to an animal’s survival rates. And if the animal is more likely to survive then it’s more likely to pass its genes on.

It’s all fascinating stuff, but it’s not necessarily easy reading. It’s the kind of book that forces you to think, but I like books like that and I’m looking forward to continuing to read through Dawkins’ back catalogue. I always learn something new from his books.

 

Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion

 

Click here to buy The Blind Watchmaker.

 


Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood | Review

Title: Norwegian Wood

Author: Haruki Murakami

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 394

Rating: 4*/5

 

Haruki Murakami - Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood

 

Norwegian Wood is an interesting one, because it’s one of the few ‘bestsellers‘ that I’ve read of late that have actually lived up to the title. The author does a great job of blending different influences together while forging ahead with his own voice, and the result is the sort of book that captures the spirit of a generation – in this book, the 1960s – while simultaneously standing up proud as a story of its own.

Loosely speaking, it’s all about the relationships between a group of friends and acquaintances in Japan during the swinging sixties. A lot of ‘foreignbooks (I wrote it like that because ‘foreign’ is a relative term) have a habit of over-taxing the brain – it can often be difficult to differentiate between places and character names when they come from an unfamiliar language. But that’s not the case here – it feels like a town you grew up in, or like revisiting the corridors in the secondary school you attended.

It’s also noteworthy because it brings the past and the present together in a story that’s relatable for people of all ages and from all generations. I also think it has the potential to stand the test of time, although I disagree with a few of the reviewers who called Murakami one of the world’s greatest living novelists. There are better living novelists, but there aren’t too many of them, and Murakami is certainly very good at what he does.

 

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

 

Then there’s the age-old problem of trying to figure out how much of the credit should go to the author and how much should go to the translator. In this case, it appears as though both of them have done a fine job of things, and I’d certainly put this book in the top 5% of the contemporary fiction that comes out. But the top 1%? That’s a tough one.

Overall though, you’d be crazy not to recommend this, and you’d be crazy not to read it, too. There’s a lot to be said for it, and the characters are not just relatable – they’re also memorable, and that’s often, sadly, a rarity. But in this case, Murakami does a good job of things, and the result is this – a little gem of a novel.

 

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

 

Click here to buy Norwegian Wood.

 


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