1. Breaking the Maya Code by Michael Coe
I had previously read part of this book and was able to reread it. There were, and still are, a lot of people involved in the deciphering of the Mayan language via what the people wrote on stelae and pottery. I almost felt overwhelmed by the amount of years linguists, archeologists, etc. have spent on this – and then remember that I’m only reading about their hard work. This feels like only a pinky toenail dip into the waters of the Mayan language and gives me insight about the difficulties faced with mistranslation – which still happens today with common languages.
2. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife
This is the story of nothing and everything, of zero and infinity – how cultures throughout history have dealt with the idea of zero as just a place holder versus a number to count with on timelines, calendars, and graphs. It’s about time, space, science, and math – the difference between simple geometry and the possibilities of quantum theory. Sometimes the idea was rejected, lied about, and forgotten. All this for one digit.
3. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
My neighbor suggested I read this. I wonder where he gets his ideas – some from the T.V., some from his old age, and others from his young son Ritchie that is still in college. It’s a biography of a poor Irish Catholic – and I thought I had a rough childhood. Siblings are born and die. His dad is an alcoholic that drinks away the welfare money and paychecks when he can get them. He’s always wet and hungry, but the story doesn’t stop there. It’s a great read to gain perspective on another place in the world and what poor meant to them.
4. Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjorie Shostak
A story of a fifty year old woman who lived in the south of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. She had kids with her different husbands. She ran away from trial marriages when she was still young. She was married with lovers. She lived in a gatherer-hunter society until trade and agriculture started to influence the area in the 1970s. Her people knew the plant types (over 200) that are edible and could track animals for days and recognize each other’s footsteps. They were happy, healthy, and kind.
5. Les Chants de Maldoror by Comte de Lautreamont (aka Isidore Ducasse)
Parts of this book may seem disturbing to some, and maybe I’m just reading too much into his words, but I found this book poetic and full of love – for everything but humanity. The author didn’t like people at all, but that didn’t stop him from living (committed suicide at 24) and being creative during that time. I’m thankful he decided to share this work with the world as it’s a timeless inspirational piece.