Tuesday, March 9

And now I want to crash a cocktail party

An Incomplete Education, by Judy Jones and William Wilson, is definitely the best book buy (excuse the alliteration) I’ve ever made! An exclamation point is necessary! (And another one… but not a third. That would just be gushing.)

It is such an awesome collection of information. Every subject you could possibly want to know more on – Art History, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Science… pretty much everything. And it’s written in a simple and lighthearted way. I haven’t put it down much since I got it.

And now, for some choice extracts...

In Political Science:

“What you need to know if you’re dating a Congolese: How to party down with someone who’s suffering from disease, malnutrition, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Try a little tenderness. If your date is a woman, she may have been gang-raped by rebel soldiers on her way to meet you, especially if you’ve arranged a rendezvous outside one of the squalid refugee camps where some of the two million or so internally displaced Congolese huddle in tents, waiting for supplies that never arrive. If your date’s a man, congratulations on having found a live one!”

In Science:

From the intro to Chaos Theory: “Chaotic behavior follows simple rules and recognizable patterns. What’s more, when you translate that behavior into mathematical models, then plot the models on your computer, you get the kind of visuals people used to have to drop acid to see.”

In the Lexicon:

The distinction between ‘anxious’ and ‘eager’: “Famous last stand of the language purists: You’re not anxious to spend a languorous evening with your oldest married friends, you’re eager to spend it. Unless, that is, you’ve been sleeping with one of them for the past three months. Then you are anxious.”

Word pronunciation: “Eight words where you have to choose between being unimpeachably correct (and risk sounding pretentious) or disarmingly casual (and risk sounding uneducated.)”

Seriously, best R300 I’ve ever spent. Naturally, like I’ve found the Literature section a bit shallow and over-simplified, I’m sure it’s not the holy grail on every subject. But it’s still really cool. Informative, funny and covering a huge range of great subjects, I’d totally recommend it to everyone, from happy nerds who really love learning, to people that are just tired of giving the ol’ vacant nod-and-smile at cocktail parties whenever Chaos Theory comes up.

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