Friday, 25 April 2014

Penguin's History of the World

Ever since I retired a few years ago I have been intrigued to know about everything that was not in my field of work.  I worked in health and education as a speech pathologist for 40 years and I always had much variety in my work.   But now I am retired I am absolutely over it. There is so much I want to learn outside of the health field.

I have purchased a few books since, all non fiction with various degrees of programs etc to follow. Literature, science and history.  However I found all of them to be monster books and overwhelming in scope.  So I have devised a plan.  Having heard stories of one man who read the whole Britannica encyclopaedia from cover to cover by reading an hour a day and another man who read great works by allocating the first 15 minutes of the day to them also succeeded.

As I always  seem to have two or three books on the go I decided I would read a chapter a day out of my book of choice. As a reward for doing that I can then read anything I want.

I began yesterday with the book The Penguin History of the World by J.M. Roberts and Odd Arne Westad. It is a real chunkster at 1100 pages plus and an extensive reading list at the back and a comprehensive index.  It begins with the beginning of man and goes up to current days.  I wouldn't think you could write a history of the world in one book but the chapters have extensive coverage and are anywhere from 7 to 20 pages each.

Yesterday I read about homo-erectus and found the times the author spoke of fascinating. So hard to imagine life millions of years ago. It really does boggle the mind to think back that far. Today's next chapter is about homo-sapiens. It is interesting the way people traversed the earth so many years ago and reading these chapters I can only think of more questions to ask.  I find learning new things lifts my mood and excites my brain.  I begin the day feeling very happy if not a little self-righteous.

How do other people manage non fiction books when there is such depth of information?
Do you plough through the entire book at once and remember what stands out or do you study it in more depth?  I'm hoping this procedure works okay and I can get through more of my non-fiction collection. I'll let you know how I go with this in periodic updates.


  1. It depends on the book. Most of the non-fiction I read tells a single over-arching story or builds a single argument so I need to read the book through without interruption. Other things, like you suggest, can be read a chapter or a section at a time.

    To be honest, I often do the same thing with longer fiction.

    I love it that you have retired and are not looking back. That is soooo my plan, too.

  2. When I read Middlemarch and Don Quixote I had to break it up just for sanity sake but I loved those two books so much. Hard to imagine anyone sitting down and writing such things. They're so involved.


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