Since the beginning of this year I’ve been reading various non-fiction as a means of a self-administered education in topics I feel I want to be more aware of. I plotted various topics in a mind map with prominent books and interesting outliers that I would spend the rest of the year dissecting and revealing.
One of the questions I had in mind, was “Why do we need to sleep?”. To that end I discovered a book called Dreamland by David K Randall. When I learned that half of the book was devoted to practical applications of the research, I wondered how much of the book would be devoted to my question. I came across a website whereby the content writer of the site summarises various non-fiction books, where the summaries can be downloaded as PDFs. I read the summary, and the only conclusion to my question was that sleeping is beneficial to mental health. But the book didn’t seem to explain why.
Another topic I deemed worthy of further examination is religion, and I thought it would be easiest to start with one of Karen Strong’s books, History of God. This book explores the largest monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and there seem to be few books around with the same scope. I was encouraged by the introduction where the author explains how she was raised as a Christian, became a nun, but hadn’t seemed to connect with God. As I began the first chapter however, I felt like I was opening a Pandora’s Box, inundated with theories and strange words I’d never heard of before. The book was heavy going, and seemed to presume that the reader already had substantial background knowledge of the subject. I found a summary of this book too, and felt my initial opinion of the book was correct. I discovered how meaty the topic actually is, and how broad its scope is, talking of the God of the Philosophers and the God of the Mystics. The next book I read on religion will probably be The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, as I feel it would be easier to digest and would be closer to my natural inclinations.