books - llibres

just my opinion - què en penso 

Last Updates on my Shelfari 


The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003)

This is a fast paced novel that you can't put it down.  It is like a Harry Potter book for grown-ups; a good source of entertainment. The author pretends to reveal some astonishing truths that might change the way you look at the world forever; however, at the end of the novel you realize that something has not been delivered. And your vision of the world stays the same. He does a very brave exposition and very modest conclusions. Oh well, is just a novel!

El Codi Da Vinci de Dan Brown (2003) de ritme que va de ràpid a més ràpid que no pots aturar de llegir. És com una de les novel.les d'en Harry Potter per gent gran. L'autor unes veritats en el llibre que et poden fer canviar la visió que tens del món, per sempre. Al final però no acaba de lligar els caps i la teva visió del món no canvia. Sembla que no li fa por l'exposició, però a les conclusions es queda curt. Ah, és que només és una! 

An hour before daylight by Jimmy Carter (2001)

These are the memoirs of Jimmy Carter's boyhood centered in the 20s until the 40s in Archery,  small rural town in Georgia. As he admits in the book, he romanticized what was a very tough live in rural America during the depression years. His family was relatively well-off compared to the freed blacks some of which  live and work in Carter's father land.  Jimmy Carter grows up spending a lot of hours among blacks -his best friend and the farmers of his father land. These memoirs are a memento of the naturality and acceptance of the seggregated society that nowadays seem so outrageous.  Whereas his father was fair with his workers but maintained the seggregated forms, his mother Lillian Carter, working as a nurse, was more open and made the rules herself, attending and caring for black people in their own homes. After her husband's death she joins the peace corps and works in India.  Jimmy Carter's father and his three sibblings died young of pancreatic cancer. His mother died at 85 of breast cancer. All Carters, but Jimmy, were smokers.  (January 06)

pbs interview to Jimmy Carter after the book publication

An hour before daylight by Jimmy Carter (2001) 

[Una hora abans de l'alba]

Aquestes són les memòries d'infantesa d'en Jimmy Carter (ex-president dels EEUU) centrades als anys 20 fins als 40 a Archery, una petita de l'estat de Geòrgia.  Com ell bé admet en el llibre ha romantitzat una mica el que era una vida molt dura a l'Amèrica rural del temps de la gran depressió.  La seva família viu relativament bé comparat amb els esclaus alliberats de Geòrgia, algun dels quals treballa les terres que pertanyen al pare d'en Jimmy Carter.  Aquestes memòries són també un retrat de la naturalitat amb què es vivia la segregació que avui en dia sembla tant ofensiva. Mentre el seu pare era just amb els seus treballadors però obeia els termes socials de segregació, la seva mare, Lillian Carter, treballant com a infermera va ser més oberta i visitava i atenia els negres que vivien a la seva comunitat. Després de la mort del seu marit, Lillian s'afilia als Peace Corps i treballa a la Índia. El pare i els tres altres germans de Jimmy moren joves de càncer de pàncrees. La seva mare mor de càncer de pit. Tots els Carters, excepte en Jimmy, eren fumadors. (Gener 06)

Del Amor y Otros Demonios - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1994) 

Short novel (200 p) and of pleasant reading. It is not as rough as other novels from the same author.  The novel describes the live in a caribean city in colonial times. Life and supersticions of indigenous and black slaves as well as life and superstitions of the catholics in charge. A 12 year old girl, daugther of an aristocrat but grown up among the slaves, is bitten by a dog with rabies. While waiting for the disease to develop in the girl, she is taken to a cell-jail in a nuns convent, where she is accused of being possessed by demons.  One the of priests who is supposed to exorcise the demons out of the girl falls madly in love with her; another one dies misteriously in a water well. There are not signs of rabies in the girl but the abbess of the convent is convinced that the evil has hijacked her soul. (march 06)

Del Amor y Otros Demonios - Gabriel Garcia Márquez (1994) curta (200 p) i de bon llegir. No és tant aspre com altres novel.les del mateix autor. La novel.a dóna unes pinzellades a la vida als països caribenys en temps de colonialisme. La vida i supersticions dels indígenes i esclaus negres i la vida i supersticions dels catòlics que intenten doblegar les antigues creences dels pobles que ocupen. Una nena de 12 anys, filla d'un aristòcrata catòlic però criada entre esclaus, ha estat mossegada per un gos amb ràbia. Mentre s'espera que la malaltia es desenvolupi en la nena, la tanquen a unaó d'un convent; allí és acusada de tenir el dimoni a dins i se li han de practicar exorcismes. Un dels capellans que li ha de treure els dimonis de l'ànima s'enamora follament d'ella, un altre mor ofegat a un pou. No hi ha signes de la ràbia, però segons l'abadessa el dimoni ha agafat la seva ànima. (març 06)


Intuition -A novel - Allegra Goodman (2006) 

This one is a novel taking place in recent times, in a research laboratory in Boston. I can relate to it since I have been been doing research in laboratories since 1992. The author captures very accurately the different essences of research, the frustation when the results are not coming and the excitment when the results are falling in place; the different reactions of different people to a common reality. Reading on the  different characters on the novel you find yourself identified with a bit of everybody, with the good and bad sides, and whishing to have another bit of everybody's features that you do not have. The novel has another level wich relates to the political aspects of science, from the hierarchies in one institute to the big politics of the national institutes of health (NIH). The plot goes about what would be a very important discovery in science (the cure of cancer) by a post-doc in a laboratory with scarce economical resources led by two principal investigators, one of which is an MD. While the whole laboratory turns around this discovery, which will bring money and popularity to the laboratory and the whole institute, one of the members of the team -the ex-girfriend of the post-doc who did the discovery- suspects that there is something wrong with the data. A whole investigation will have to take place to assess the veracity of the data. Scientific facts will have to go above human emotions. (march 06)



The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen (2005)

(in progress)

Book organized in essays. I will be commenting on them as I read them.

1.-The Argumentative Indian:  Points out at the importance of argumentation and heterodoxy in past and present india. The author claims, for example, that it was not the english influence what made India a democratic state but its argumentative tradition. Argumentation is a characteristic of indian culture which crosses cast and gender barriers. As example it is cited that in the fourth century BCE, when the Alexander the Great, roaming around north-west India, asked a group of Jain philosophers why they were paying so little attention to the great conqueror, he got the following reply (as reported by Arrian): "Alexander, every man can possess only so much of the earth's surface as this we are standing on. [...] You will soon be dead, and then you will only  own just as much of the earth as will suffice to bury you." 

 Contrary to popular belief, scepticism, agnosticism and atheism are an important part of the indian tradition. A copious amount of texts, including religious ones, express such ideas,  such as the "song of creation" from the Vedas, or the ancient Ramadayana which together with the Mahabharata are compared to the Illiad and the Odyssey, except that the indian counterparts are much, much longer. Indeed indians, like to talk.

Departure from religious ortodoxy allowed progress in observational science. Scientific discoveries in mathematics, astronomy had been of worldly significance, and had great influence in arabic and iranian work, like the use of the decimal system and in trigonometry. In astronomy such contributions explain the lunar and solar eclipses, the rejection of the sun orbiting the earth, the identification of gravity to explain why objects do not fly away from the earth, and the relativity of up and down concepts linked to the place of the earth one is standing, eliminating the concept of the higher status of heaven, as opposed to lower status of earth.  These works were published by 500 CE. 

Finally, to stress out the importance of argumentation in indian live on a poem from the Bengali author Ram Mohum Roy in the nineteenth century there is an explanation of what is really dreadful about death:" Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be. Others will go on speaking, and you will not be able to argue back".(april 06).

2.-Inequality, Instability and Voice: Short essay on the fact that class, cast, gender inequality is ever present in India, with the  hope that stronger  will in democracy will help to diminish it. Acceptance, referring to acknowledgement of different groups of people in India (religions, casts,...) is historically resent;  but it is not a reference to equality, just to the mere existence.There is also a paintbrush on the multiculturality of India, being still one single country, and how other countries and visitors have seen this diversity, from churchill stating that talk about India as a country makes the same sense than talking about the equator as a country, from chinesse visitos acknowledging five different regions in India, but still considering them as a single entity. Finally, a reference to the indian sub-continent: relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and how dialogue at the political and social level is allowing the subcontinent to surmount the sometimes precarious relations with its neighbours.  (april 06)

next: India: large and small. 

Traditional induism allows a broad spectrum of beliefs, as opposed to today's politization of hinduism by Hindutva, which claims only one God and one belief. 





Coming soon:  

The World is Flat - Thomas Frieman (2005)