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review 2015-07-08 06:35
The Magic of Reality
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True - Dave McKean,Richard Dawkins

This is a review to the Indonesian edition published by Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia (2015).


It has been ages since I bought a non-fiction, let alone a scientific non-fiction (I had my days when I read heaps of books on socialism). I have my regret that I did not bought those Selidik National Geographic series that tell about history of different ancient civilizations, now that some (if not most) of them have been sold out. When I saw this amazing book by Richard Dawkins, loaded with interesting illustrations by Dave McKean, I knew I could not miss this book.


If I am not mistaken, this is the second book by Richard Dawkins that have been translated to Bahasa Indonesia. Maybe third, considering that I have seen the Indonesian version of The Selfish Gene by another publisher ages ago. Though I guess that it was just a summary, because it is so thin in pocket size. Anyway, I kind of doubt that all of his books will be translated in Bahasa Indonesia, considering the advocacy of atheism he implicitly inserted in his books. Apparently even some parts in the Indonesian version of River Out of Eden were censored, although I am not really sure on that. Just something my old friend guessed long time ago.


Dawkins opened this book by the two subjects on the title, reality and magic. He elaborated reality and how to tell reality from imagination, myth and assumptions using scientific methods. Then he elaborated magic, and stressed on the poetic magic of reality. In the next chapters, he presented some myths and folk stories that tried to answer some fundamental questions that became the title of each chapter. then he elaborated some scientific theories that explain the answer to those questions and sometimes counter the myths. As a former science and biology student in high school and college, I am familiar with many of the theories explained in this book. However, I am amazed by Dawkins’ explanation on sleep paralysis and false memory syndrome to encounter the myth on alien abduction and ghosts like incubus, succubus, old hag, or the “ketindihan” phenomena in my country.


What I like the most about this book - besides the interesting illustrated format - is Dawkins’ storytelling style to elaborate the theories he presented. I always had problem on understanding how atom works when I learned it at school. Dawkins’ answer made it so much more understandable. Now if only it can be presented in much less words, it would be great for pre-teens and teens who are struggling to understand it at school. This book would already great for them who are keen to read more, though. As a member of a society that is not commonly trained to read on regular basis, I can find myself too lazy to read even this nicely illustrated book.



  • The transitional paragraph between page 21 and 22 seems to be cut.
  • The transitional paragraph between page 126 and page 128 also seems to be cut (page 127 is fully in illustration).
  • Page 254. “Mengganggu bila memang b terjadi” may suppose to be “Mengganggu bila memang benar terjadi”, since there was no b variable given and described earlier. 
  • Translation issue:
    Page 256, “kesaksian gadis-gadis ini menyebabkan nyaris dua puluh orang digantung”.
    The use of the word “nyaris” made me almost thing that the Salem Witch Trial’s accused witches were just almost executed rather than actually were executed, if only I did not look up the reference about it. The words’ arrangement still makes sense, though. It is just rather confusing. Maybe the use of the word “hampir” would be less confusing.
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review 2014-09-19 20:35
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True - Richard Dawkins,Dave McKean

bookshelves: nonfiction, published-2011, winter-20112012, fraudio, kiddlewinks, philosophy

Read from January 03 to February 02, 2012

** spoiler alert ** mp3


noun: Someone who is solely interested in cold, hard facts.

After Thomas Gradgrind, the utilitarian mill-owner in Charles Dickens's novel Hard Times. Gradgrind runs a school with the idea that hard facts and rules are more important than love, emotions, and feelings. Earliest documented use: 1855.

"In truth, Colleen McCullough is very much a Gradgrind when it comes to facts: They are all that is needful, presented, it must be said, without color or animation to detract from their merit."
Katherine A. Powers; Ancient Evenings; The Washington Post; Dec 15, 2002.

Reality v Non-Reality

Mr Dawkins,

I wish you could have made your mind up just who you were aiming this at. Under tens probably found a lot of the ideas and words over the top of their heads, whilst suffering intermittently from you patronisingly using a talking-to-a-three-year-old mode. I suspect the over tens would rather battle with the real stuff of evolution. Today's ten year olds are the street-wise equivalent of my generation ~15 year olds. Surely one can mention evolution without having to denigrate the God Squad... freedom of speech; the right to hold personal views etc etc

Me? How would I teach the subject? Fling the enquirers Fat Boy Slim and be prepared for the "wow" factor to kick in, along with the inevitable clarification questions.

I'd love to see some 10 y.o's from all walks of life review this book.

3* but with the above caveat

4* - The Selfish Gene (1976)
4* - The Blind Watchmaker (1986)
4* - River Out of Eden (1987)
3* - The Ancestor's Tale(2004)
3* - The God Delusion (2006)
3* - The Magic of Reality (2011)

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text 2014-09-04 04:04
September Book a Day #4 The Book you bought for the cover
The Mysterious Benedict Society - Carson Ellis,Trenton Lee Stewart
The Suicide Shop - Jean Teulé
Boom! - Mark Haddon
number9dream - David Mitchell
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True - Dave McKean,Richard Dawkins
The Pale King - David Foster Wallace,Michael Pietsch
The Dream Merchant - Isabel Hoving,Hester Velmans

Oh boy. 


This is me. I would have bought a lot more books if I'm not aware that I'm attracted to pretty covers. 


Sometimes it is just my luck that some pretty covers also contains pretty good writing. 


There are a lot more books that I would have bought because of the covers. 


 The exception would be Dream Merchant. It is still sitting on the shelf as it is really hard to get into the story. 

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text 2014-08-24 13:59
August Book a Day #23: Best Picture Book for Adults
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True - Dave McKean,Richard Dawkins

Seriously, this contain a lot of stuff that a lot of adults either forgot or didn't know.


So, for me, this is one of the best adult picture book I've ever read.


Good one for those who are interested in science. Or too embarrassed to buy children encyclopedia.



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text 2014-08-14 07:21
Magic of Reality big book version
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True - Dave McKean,Richard Dawkins

I'm a sucker for hard cover book sales. It is so nice and colorful and I really want it.


So, I got one. 


It feels heavy, but it is so nice. I still haven't got used to ebook yet. 


Reading it tonight. 


Like it a lot. A 5 stars books for both children and adults.


But for adults, buy children version, it is much nicer. 



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