Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

Engineering beautiful software jon aquino labs | personal blog

Saturday, June 27, 2009

4 Books That Function as Time Machines

I’m fond of books that trace human culture from ancient times to the present day. They’re like time machines—when you flip through these books, you travel through thousands of years.

Here are my favorite “time machines”:

Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. I talked about this wonderful little history in a previous post. From the Heidelberg Jaw (600,000 BC) to the fall of the Berlin wall (1989) in 284 pages.
Kerman and Tomlinson’s Listen is the textbook and 6-CD set for a university music appreciation course. There are 88 pieces on the CDs, from Gregorian Chant (750), to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto (1721), to George Crumb’s disturbing Danse Macabre (1970).
Keegan’s The New Penguin Book of English Verse is an unusual anthology of poetry in that the poems are arranged chronologically. You start in 1300 with the Rawlinson Lyrics (“Come and daunce with me / In Irlande.”), see Coleridge writing his Kubla Kahn in 1816 (“For he on honey-dew hath fed, / And drunk the milk of Paradise.”), and end up in 1994 with Christopher Reid’s Stones and Bones (“We are not of their blood, / springing instead from the bones / of the Great Mother”). 1103 pages covering seven centuries.
Gombrich’s The Story of Art (reviewed previously) takes you from cave paintings of bison (17,000 BC) to David Hockney’s photo-cubist My Mother, Bradford, Yorkshire, 4th May, 1982 (1982) in 637 pages that go by quickly.

Do you have any recommendations for time-machine-like books?


Post a Comment

<< Home