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Search tags: 2018-non-fiction
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review 2018-01-16 01:03
The Snow Leopard
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen

DNF.

 

Damn. This book started out so well.

 

However, after only a few pages it seems to have turned into a version of Log from the Sea of Cortez, complete with philosophical and religious musings on the author's own life, his experimenting with different drugs, and his understanding of Buddhism - in none of which I have any interest at all.

 

The parts where Matthiessen describes the natural environment of his trek through Nepal are fascinating. Unfortunately, these are too few and too far between for my enjoyment.

 

I read 85 pages, then skipped to the end. The only sighting of the snow leopard is literally mentioned in the last 3 pages - and he doesn't go into much detail because he wasn't even there. He simply included a very short letter from George Schaller which briefly stated that he did manage to see one in the end (and after Matthiessen had returned home). 

 

I get that there may be some beauty in Matthiessen's writing, his musings, and his dealing with grief after the loss of his wife, but all that esoteric babble just isn't for me, especially not when I expected the book to focus more on the expedition and the wildlife.  

 

Next!

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text 2018-01-15 21:39
Reading progress update: I've read 13 out of 312 pages.
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen

GS is the zoologist George Schaller. I knew him first in 1969, in the Serengeti Plain of East Africa, where he was working on his celebrated study of the lion. When I saw him next, in New York City in the spring of 1972, he had started a survey of wild sheep and goats and their near relatives the goat-antelopes. He wondered if I might like to join him the following year on an expedition to northwest  Nepal, near the frontier of Tibet, to study the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep; it was his feeling, which he meant to confirm, that this strange "sheep" of remote ranges was actually less sheep than goat, and perhaps quite close to the archetypal ancestor of both.

Page 1 of the main text of this book has been a roller-coaster of events already: starting with exclamations of "Shut up!" at the surprise that there is such a fabulous creature as a "blue sheep" and resulting in the utter disappointment on finding out that the blue sheep are, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica:

 

"Blue sheepBlue sheep (genus Pseudois), also called bharal, either of two species of sheeplike mammals, family Bovidae (order Artiodactyla), that inhabit upland slopes in a wide range throughout China, from Inner Mongolia to the Himalayas. Despite their name, blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) are neither blue nor sheep."

 

Ugh. I am gutted.

 

They are kinda cute, tho.

 

[Photo Source]

 

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text 2018-01-09 23:25
Reading progress update: I've read 301 out of 301 pages.
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

Oh, I really liked this book.

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text 2018-01-09 21:40
Storm in a Teacup - Reading Update: Chapter 7
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

This chapter was all about spinning. I liked it - not only because it again featured a lot of tea (she seems to drink and stare at tea A LOT!) but it also had action and suspense (literally if you read about the trebuchet experiments). 

 

While I can't see myself building a trebuchet myself (I'll wait for Murder by Death's detailed report on that particular experiment), I really enjoyed reading about it. It does illustrate her points rather well. I might, however, be observing the toast rotation experiment with less frustration going forward. 

 

I again had to smile because I was reminded of the Humboldt biography (The Invention of Nature) when she mentioned Mount Chimborazo.

 

 

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text 2018-01-08 22:52
Storm in a Teacup - Reading Update: Chapter 6
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

Well, the story about ducks and how they regulate the temperature in their feet was fab. So were the parts about the Arctic Ocean, the Fram, the molecular structures of sugar and salt, and Brownian motion.

 

It is just me or are her choice of anecdotes getting a little less focused? I mean, I don't mind that much, but some of the trains of thought seem a little forced.

 

Still, this was a hugely enjoyable chapter just for the ducks alone.

 

(The image is not from the book, I found it here.)

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