De regen op Mars was zacht en welkom.

Ik weet niet of ik eerder zowel ‘think about it’ als ‘laat maar links liggen’ heb aangevinkt als categorie, maar hier zijn we dan. Elke dag kan een nieuwe ervaring brengen. Maar, waarom deze combinatie dan?

Vooral omdat de auteur van zeer brede geschiedenis, ruim de tweede helft van het boek inzoomt op de VS en Groot Brittannië, en daar op blijft inzoomen voor de rest van het boek. Ja, natuurlijk zijn feitjes over Thomas Jefferson en de eerste weermannen interessant, maar na een meer globale invalshoek valt het nogal rauw op het dak. Was de rest van de wereld wel genoeg bekeken?

Daarnaast verandert de toon in het laatste hoofdstukken van wetenschappelijk naar sprookjesachtig met een flinke dot toeristenheiligheid (oftewel; ‘gelukkig mag ik zoveel van deze inboorlingen leren’).

Beiden laten helaas een vervelende nasmaak achter bij een verhaal waar ik zeer enthousiast aan begon. Houd het anders bij de eerste helft.

Regen: Een natuur- en cultuurgeschiedenis, Cynthia Barnett,

The Library at Mount Char

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78.

This is one book that could do with the cleaning up of of TV-script writer. There’s so much violence, described in detail, that could be put away behind an (atmospheric) description or implication instead.

While the plot’s got plenty of things going for it. Mysterious not-alien, godlike but not gods creatures that look like humans, call themselves librarians but are able to do about anything? International mythic elements used to show these skills and knowledge, and something going on underneath the surface to spur things into action? Yes, yes, and yes.

But then there’s a conclusion that can elicit little more than a ‘mwoh’, possibly also because you’ve been beaten into a pulp by all the abuse, rape, murder and torture.  So maybe Scott Hawkins can release his notes about the world he build, and give someone else a chance with it. That way we get more of the story behind the librarians, and less of the blood and pain that made them the way they are.

The Library at Mount Char, Scott Hawkins, Crown Publishers 2015

Love is a mix tape

The playback: late night, Brooklyn, a pot of coffee and a chair by the window.

Sometimes it’s easy to stick to your resolutions. The best non-fiction may not feel like non-fiction. Love is a mix tape is an autobiography through music, but because most of it being balanced out with the people around it, Sheffield manages to not turn this into another collection of navel gazing.

Maybe because he is a journalist and editor (for Rolling Stone, right now). The story is musical history and how songs and bands and acts can influence a people and a society, not just (little) Rob.

It’s clear that music is his life, creating connections and arguments and motivational scrambles over which fits where, how Hanson and Missy Elliott are connected. This book is a passion between two covers, and he delivers it the right way.

Love is a mix tape, Rob Sheffield, Crown Publishing 2007

The Little Paris Bookshop

How on earth could I have let them talk me into it?

Now this is a book that deserves my time, that very probably already landed a spot on my end of the year book list. A book like a four course meal, every dish not just bright and good looking, but a new experience in taste. This is Eat, Pray, Love in one country, Chocolat  for book lovers, an encyclopedia for emotions for those that can’t recognise them.

This might be the first male mid life crisis I have rolled absolute no eye over. Nary a blink. Because what else to call it, the discovery of a gross mistake leading him to throwing away twenty years of his life?

Luckily,  Nina George looks out for the lost Jean. Both travel, country and people help him, without it ever feeling too convenient, too easy or not human enough.

I’m glad I read this.

The Little Paris Bookshop, Nina George, Crown Publishers 2015