During last year’s tedious lockdown months I discovered some wonderful books. Here follow my favourite three. I hope folks will enjoy them as much as I did.
The three books
One River − by Wade Davis, anthropologist, ethnobotanist and professor at the University of British Columbia. This book is a biography of Davis’ mentor, Prof Richard Evans Schultes, who the book describes as the last of the great Victorian explorers. It’s a tale of Schultes and Davis’ adventures in the Colombian Amazon discovering countless plant species, mapping uncharted rivers, and taking Ayahuasca with tribesmen. It’s a beautiful tale of scientific exploration and chasing dreams that can’t help but inspire.
Reconstruction of Nations − by Timothy D. Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. The book tells the story of the contemporary Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Lithuanian nations. Covering the last 300 years of history, it recounts i) the partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ii) the formation of modern national identities within the colonising empires, and ii) the creation of new states from the ashes of the world wars and failed Soviet communist project. It’s perfect for those wanting to understand how this part of Europe came to be as it is now.
Do I Make Myself Clear − by Sir Harold Evans, editor of the Sunday Times for 15 years. This is the best instruction manual for writing I’ve encountered. Writing is hard, and folks, especially scientists, have little time for honing what is often regarded as a secondary skill; alas, bad English riddles the write up of many an elegant study (I’m talking about native speakers here). If you’re interested in learning a few tricks about writing concisely and clearly, then Evans’ book should be the first place you look.