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Thursday, January 13, 2011

thoughts on: The Map that Changed the World

The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern GeologyThe Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology by Simon Winchester

I considered dropping this book at the half way point.  I'd already begun skimming, which is never a good sign.  I decided to continue skimming to the end, in case Winchester returned to the story of William Smith and his map.  He did, but I skimmed that, too.  It just was not that interesting.

The information known about Smith would have made a very good magazine article.  He was a remarkable man, and the map, the first geologic map of an entire nation, England, an amazing feat.  However, not enough is known about him to write a book.  Winchester filled out his book with descriptions of the geology of England, rants against the church standing in the way of science, unconnected stories about other geologists and fossil hunters of Smith's day, and a chapter about how mean the nuns were to him on kindergarten field trips (which may explain the earlier rants about the church).  In other words, there is a lot to skim through to follow the story of Smith.

2 comments:

Reading Allowed said...

It's good to walk away, there are too many good books to waste your time on something only worth a skim! Do you know the Nancy Pearl Rule of 50?

"If you still don't like a book after slogging through the first 50 pages, set it aside. If you're more than 50 years old, subtract your age from 100 and only grant it that many pages."

It's still hard for me to give up on a book, but I do it a lot more often now with this rule. Life's too short for bad books!

Missus Wookie said...

oh thanks for the warning - the title looked good but the review didn't not!