Thursday, June 03, 2010

"The Age of Wonder" by Richard Holmes

I wanted to like it... I really did.

Recently stopped reading (didn't finish the book, just stopped reading) "The Age of Wonder" by Richard Holmes.

The book is account of experimental science at the end of the 1700s and I had high hopes for it after reading this review from Time in which Lev Grossman described it as as "the most flat-out fascinating book so far this year."

Additionally, I tend to like books about exploration type stuff from days of yore... as evidenced by my enjoying "A Sense of the World" by Jason Roberts (reviewed here) and "Thunderstruck" by Erik Larson (reviewed here).

However, "The Age of Wonder" didn't really do it for me. It's a series of 10 chapters on 10 different scientific explorer types and I only made it through the first tw0.... with the first being on Joseph Banks and his time on the Galapagos Islands and the second William Herschel and his astronomy work (including the discovery of the planet Uranus). In his review, Grossman wrote of particular interest in the account of Herschel, but I actually found that chapter to be less interesting than the one on Banks.

I imagine that Grossman isn't the only guy out there who enjoyed "The Age of Wonder" as both chapters struck me as interesting subject matter (and I believe the book has sold well), but the writing was just a little bit dry for me.