Category Archives: Books

Books

Geography of bliss by Eric Weiner

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41lmjrychl-_sx328_bo1204203200_This book is a very interesting journey through different places where the author seeks the answer of one question “Is the nation happy and why?”. The whole book is literally a journey through different countries where Eric explores the source of national happiness. While some chapters are not that interesting (the one on UK for example) others are a must read (Bhutan, Iceland, Moldova). You learn many facts from the national character of these countries as well – I must tell that Eric is a great story teller. He dissects everything gracefully with his skeptic eyes of a professional journalist. You will learn why Icelanders are happy and Moldovans are not. Why money does not buy happiness and what does actually?

 

What would the author say if he visited Bulgaria?

The author said it all in Moldova’s chapter.  I think that he would be depressed in Bulgaria. I knew it but now i can identify more precisely the reasons for our unhappiness. We think it is money but it is not. While they play a role to a certain extent, they don’t tell the whole truth. We are too envious of one another and not that kind of envy that drives you make great things but the hollow envy that destroys human soul. We also don’t trust each other. After 50 years of surveillance as national sport, it is hard to trust even your neighbour. Some things that probably hold us together though, are shared history and culture and love for the nature (not sure how strong these days looking at the piles of trash in the mountains).

 

I definitely recommend this book. If you are the kind of encyclopedic guy as me and look for something fun and interesting to read, Geography of Bliss will suit you well.

Books

The Spinoza Problem By Irwin Yalom

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spinoza problemThis has been a surprisingly interesting book. It is a mixture of historical facts and fiction that ‘might have actually happened’ as Yalom puts it.
The plot goes back and forth between life of influential jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza in Netherlands in the 17-th century and the life of Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg in 20-th century.
Spinoza was a jew that was expelled from the jewish community as he refused to believe the religious stories and abide by the religious rituals. He disobeyed priests and often mocked people being superstitious. He held the opinion that people should rely on their reasoning instead. Spinoza wanted to make religions and ethnicity obsolete. He explained everything in a scientific way with causes, stimulus and results.
Rosenberg on the other hand was a dogmatic that hated jews and thought that they caused all evil in the world. He, however, was amazed how a jew as Spinoza could influence so many respected Germans as Goethe.
Apart from factology, Yalom builds very vivid personalities and you can easily see what these two men were like. Of course, there is much more fiction around Spinoza than around Rosenberg as not many traces are left from Spinoza.
Interesting fact takeaways from the book include:
Spanish Inquisition chased jews as fervently as the Nazis. They also believed the absurd idea that their blood is tainted and that causes all trouble in the world.
Spinoza is a big influencer of many modern thinkers. His views are very universal and hold ground even today. (Imagine we had no religions and all people reasoned freely and unbiased)
Spinoza calls God everything that surrounds us and namely the nature which resembles very much the ideas of Petar Dunov.
Spinoza’s museum was plundered by Nazis and all the books were taken away. They were restored after the war and could be seen today in the museum nowadays.
There is an interesting idea in the book why jews are so hated throughout history – the author makes the point that they as a community are very isolated from other people through their complex traditions, rituals and diet so that they almost never mixed with other people. Their exclusion makes them so feared and hated.
Netherlands has been one of the most free and open countries since medieval times. That’s why it is the only place in Europe that the jews find peace after the Spanish expulsion.
– Hitler was ‘found’ and influenced by a man called Dietrich Eckart.
Alfred Rosenberg was also a big influencer of Hitler in the early days although Hitler neglected Alfred in the later years. Alfred’s book The Myth of the 20-th Century was the second best seller book during Nazi times only after Hitler’s Mein Kampf, although it was considered hard to understand.
– A big influencer of hard-line nazis was Houston Stewart Chemberlain. He was son-in-law of Richard Wagner and issued a book called The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century that was a pseudo-scientific racial-history.
I definitely recommend the book.
Books

Bill Bryson – At Home

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at home bill brysonThat book is a real treasure if you want to understand how things from everyday life came into existence and learn their stories. The book is full of interesting facts and human stories. It is written very entertaining and is easy to read. Some of the things you will learn are:
– why New York became the biggest city in US and probably made US a leading power
– why a fork has 4 prongs
– why central park hosted 200 sheep for a long time
– how modern park-like cemeteries came into existence
– why many vineyards in Europe got US roots
– how and who made ice widely adopted as a commodity
and many more..
Sounds interesting? Yeah, this book is for you.

Books

Woman on the other shore

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Woman on the other shoreWoman on the other shore is a book about the everyday life of a 35 year old japanese woman with a 3 yr old. It is an interesting look in the everyday life of japanese women with all their confusions, aspirations, limitations and prejudice.
From that book i understood that japanese women are very isolated, the society has strong prejudices about what a woman should do and how she should behave, especially the married ones with kids. I learned that the mother in law is a bully for the wife also in Japan and that the husbands often discourage  women to make career but rather be housewives and raise kids. Individualism and freedom among women is more of an exception than a rule. That’s why when Sayoko (main character) meets Aoi (her employer and an independent and individual woman) that is a a bliss for her. She manages to gather self esteem and take a new course. The author manages to touch all those themes by taking us through everyday events in the life of the two in a very entertaining way.

Books

Владетелите – Калин Терзийски

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владетелите калин терзийскиТази книга ми попадна съвсем случайно, но резюмето на корицата ми грабна вниманието и ето я в моята колекция. Тя е за владетелите в нашата история тръгвайки от хан Аспарух нататък. Интересното в нея е как е разказана историята – всяка глава описва един владетел, но не от историческа перспектива, а по-скоро като персонаж в неговото ежедневие. Художествена измислица се преплита с реални исторически събития, като в края на всяка глава е дадена и историческата перспектива. Интересно е исторически персонажи и събития да бъдат  преразказани с ежедневни случки, а не само с исторически факти, макар и в разказите да има голяма доза измислица. Да не говорим, че историята като наука след много на брой преразказвания, преписвания и интерпретации също не е много далеч от художествената измислица. Книгата се чете лесно и стилът на писане на Калин Терзийски е доста увлекателен – “казваш си дай да видя какво ще стане с другия”.