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frumious

Interrupting Soliloquy

I enjoy most things, and don't believe that enjoying things means that I shouldn't rip it apart critically. Also don't think reading is the panacea of all ills, so I read a lot of comics and play a lot of video games.

Currently reading

Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East
Gita Mehta

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars - Dava Sobel God only knows why this book is an incredibly dry read, but it really, really was. In comparison to another book about female mathematicians and scientists, [b:Hidden Figures|25953369|Hidden Figures The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race|Margot Lee Shetterly|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481844518s/25953369.jpg|45855800], this book both dragged and didn't drag enough. It throws people and lives at you in fast motion, leaving you unable to settle or focus on anyone except Pickering and arguably Draper to some extent. I can pick out some other names, such as Maury, Cannon and so on, but ask me about anecdotes about them specifically or their daily lives and I come up flat. Other than that they were prodigious minds of their generation and field it's hard to remember them as personal figures, which makes them hard to keep track of.

That's the main problem - when it talks about the glass, a lack of visual assistance makes it difficult to keep interested. When it talks about people, people are introduced, married, ignored, forgotten, reintroduced with such speed that it's hard to tell what's going on and who we're focusing on in the current moment. This may not be a problem for some people, but I found myself drifting off and having to reread pages over and over again. This book would have taken me half the time if I had been able to focus on it, but it did almost everything it could to make it impossible. I felt like I could replace names with variables like in algebra and it would have made MORE sense, and I don't feel like I need a backstory to x, y, and z to appreciate their importance.

Hidden Figures fixates on three particular people, and in doing so manages to weave in everyone's lives. Glass Universe, in whatever way, made it difficult for me to keep track of what had happened. Considering the several deaths that happen in the book - that I had to go back and reread because I was a paragraph into mourning and didn't notice that Pickering's wife had passed away, for example? This was one of the most damning realizations - that the book hadn't kept me focused enough to notice that people had died. I had a hard time visualizing or feeling any interactions - they were merely things that happened. And one thing just happens after another and another - one could argue, I suppose, that this is all history is, but it lacked any dimension, and the connections would stray so far from the central point that it would all seem a little pointless.

The chapter titles seem loose and broad, making the book seem even more scattered than it was. There were huge portions of chapters that I didn't feel were focused to the title at all, diverging so much that I would just stare at the top of the page wondering what was happening and if this had anything to do with anything.

A fascinating topic, to be sure, and this isn't to say there wasn't stuff about it was interesting. I retained a lot more than I initially thought I did, but I felt like I was reading this book in a stupor, like I was going in and out of sleep even while I stared directly at the page.