Marco's readings

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. This page lists all the books that I read of the non-fiction genre since 2001.
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A Brief History of Time
by Stephen Hawking (1998)
My review: I had been wanting to read this book for a long time, and when I saw that a new and updated version was released, I decided it was finally the time to read it. The book is extremely enjoyable, I devoured half of it in a day, and I end up staying up late reading few nights in a row.
The book is very accessible to anyone, you do not need any scientific background to enjoy this book. A good half of the book covers high school physics, at a very high level. The other half, the most interesting one, goes beyond the standard curricula, and covers more recent developments in terms of quantum physics, time, and black holes. I found remarkably enlightening Dr. Hawking's proof that the thermodynamic time arrow, and the psychological time arrow must have the same direction.
While I loved the book (I really did!), I wish that the various topics were covered in more detail, even if that would require some math to be thrown in. (★★★★)
Started: Mar 26 2017 Finished: Mar 29 2017
Zion National Park: Sanctuary in the Desert
by Nicky Leach (2001)
My review: There are many guides and books for each national park, and many can be quite dull. This is a welcome exception. The book is packed with stunning photos, and contains useful information regarding the geology, the history, the wildlife, and the trails in the park. It provided me with many ideas of which park sites to hike to, when I will manage to go to the park again.
The book is a little dated (the author mention some of the upcoming bug services to be started in winter 2002), but I would still recommend it (sites and trails have not changed since when it was written). (★★★★)
Started: Nov 19 2015 Finished: Dec 10 2015
Sei la mia vita
by Ferzan Özpetek
My review: Ti alzi alle 4 di mattina perché ti sei dimenticato di spegnere il cellulare prima di corricarti. Afferri il libro sul comodino, quello che ti ha tenuto su fino a tardi ieri sera, e che anche dopo aver spento le luci non ti lasciava scivolare nel sonno. Cammini pian pianino fuori dalla stanza per non svegliare il tuo compagno, attraverso i corridoi ancora bui della casa addormentata. Ti immergi in quelle pagine mentre la città davanti a te lentamente si illumina e si risveglia. E mentre fuori tutto tace, e mentre pian piano tutto comincia a bisbigliare i suoni del nuovo giorno, dentro di te c'è una tempesta destata da quelle incredibili parole così piene di amore. (★★★★★)
Started: Aug 22 2015 Finished: Aug 26 2015
Rocky Mountain National Park - A Year in Pictures
by David Dahms
My review: This short book collects many breathtaking photos captured at the Rocky Mountains National park through the various seasons by David Dahms. A brief intro provides some insight into the park wildlife. (★★★)
Started: Aug 12 2015 Finished: Aug 18 2015
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks: A Place Where Giants Dwell
by George B. Robinson
My review: Beautiful photos, but there is very little information in this book. The most interesting information comes at the end, in the form of a two pager guide to the wildlife in the park.
This said, reading this book and looking at the incredible photos made me want to go back to those two parks. (★★★)
Started: Jul 05 2015 Finished: Aug 09 2015
On Impact
by Stephen King (2000)
My review: The true story of a close encounter with Death during a simple daily walk, by one of the most read contemporary authors of the 21st century. Remarkably human and interesting. (★★★★★)
Started: Jun 07 2015 Finished: Jun 07 2015
Redwood: A Guide to Redwood National and State Parks, California: A Guide to Redwood National and State Parks, California
by National Park Service (U.S.), Division of Publications (1998)
My review: When I visit a National Park, I always like to purchase a book that provides an introduction to its history and natural wonders. Unfortunately many of these books are not the greatest, providing very scant information. I would strongly recommend this one. It provides an introduction to the parks and the movement to preserve redwoods, the world's tallest trees. It explores redwood natural history, the work of restoring the previously heavily logged lands, and North Coast Indian culture. It also includes a travel guide and reference materials for touring the parks. (★★★★)
Started: May 24 2015 Finished: May 25 2015
in pictures Hawaii Volcanoes: The Continuing Story
by Richard A. Rasp (1992)
Publisher review: The very best in brilliant full-color photography in a large format book, with accurate, readable, interpretive text on the natural scene and the human history of national parks and monuments throughout the country. Each
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Aug 07 2014 Finished: Aug 07 2014
Lassen Volcano: The Story Behind the Scenery
by Ellis Richard (1998)
Publisher review: The very best in brilliant full-color photography in a large format book, with accurate, readable, interpretive text on the natural scene and the human history of national parks and monuments throughout the country. Each
My rating: ★★★★
Started: Jul 04 2014 Finished: Jul 05 2014
Twelve Years a Slave
by Solomon Northup (2013)
My review: Slavery is a horrible stain in our history, but there is something worst: forgetting about it. This book made me realize that even if we are still facing the consequences of that immoral practice, even if "race" is one of the most discussed topics on TV, blogs, and newspapers, despite all that I still know so little about it. Solomon Northup was a quite talented free man in New York that happened to not be "white". He was kidnapped and sold as a slave in the South. Solomon was not the only one to have this fate. He was separated from his wife and from his sons, beaten and exploited, broken down physically and emotionally. He was deprived of the title and the dignity of being a man. After 12 years, thanks to extreme luck and exceptional circumstances, he was freed and returned to his family. While there are many reports of kidnapped free men believed to be sold as slaves in the South, Mr. Northup is the only one that made it back alive. Once back, any attempt to legally prosecute the kidnappers failed, as the historical legal records demonstrate, thanks to the fact that, as a "non-white", he could not be accepted as a witness against a "white" man. He actually barely escaped prison for having dared to accuse his kidnapper. He spent the rest of his life to end the horror of slavery and to help slaves escape to Canada. He also wrote down his story, published here along the legal court documents concerning his case. The result is one of the most incredible books I have ever read. Mr. Northup was a remarkable man, and was an incredibly good writer. Despite being written almost a century and an half ago, despite some of the horrors being described, it is a pleasure to read. On top of it, the book is of such historical significance that should be read by everybody.
I will never be able to understand and relate to the enormity of the horrors he had to endure, but I strongly believe I must try. The only way to atone for the horrors of the past, is to never forget them. (★★★★★)
Started: Feb 03 2014 Finished: Feb 08 2014
In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
by Alice Walker (2004)
Publisher review: In this, her first collection of nonfiction, Alice Walker speaks out as a black woman, writer, mother, and feminist in thirty-six pieces ranging from the personal to the political. Among the contents are essays about other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid memoir of a scarring childhood injury and her daughter's healing words.
My rating: ★★★
Started: Nov 15 2013 Finished: Nov 30 2013
Why We Can't Wait
by Martin Luther King Jr. (2000)
My review: I decided to celebrate Martin Luther King Day reading one of his most famous books. The book has an incredible historical significance, it details the progress made by the civil rights movement during the 60s. It's incredible to see how things finally suddenly started changing, never fast enough, for the better. It is so insightful to read about the struggles, the dreams and the vision of one of the fathers of the movement. Some of the topics touched in the book are still incredibly relevant today: for example the role of affirmative action and social incentives as a way to level the field, to enable every American to have the same opportunities to achieve his/her dreams.
It was heart warming to read this book while listening to President Obama inaugural speech: even if we still have a long way ahead of us, even if we are dragging our feet and progress is slow, the speech gave me hope that a more just world is possible and a little bit closer each day. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 21 2013 Finished: Jan 25 2013
Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks
by Ken Jennings
My review: I was given this book as a present, and I started reading it on a plane, with very little expectations. I was quite pleased to discover that the book was quite entertaining and full of interesting trivia, a perfect book to read while on a plane. Maphead is about geography, maps, and map wonks. It starts describing the history and role of maps in the ancient world, but soon it focuses on the lust for discovery and exploration of the unknown. It finishes speaking about today's explorers, stuck in an already charted world, trying to re-create the joy of discovery hiding artificial geo-caches or looking for arbitrary points in the map. (★★★)
Finished: Jan 03 2012
You and Your Aquarium
by Dick Mills (1986)
My review: As soon as I will be able to do it, I am going to buy an aquarium. This is a simple guide to collecting and keeping aquarium fishes. Interesting. I was unable to finish it right away, because Matteo toke it back to Italy. (★★★★)
Started: Jan 01 2001 Finished: May 01 2001
Zuppa d'erba
by Zhang Xianliang (1996)
Publisher review: Nel 1960 ZHang XianLiang era un poeta di 24 anni. Da due anni si trovava in un "campo di rieducazione attraverso il lavoro" nella Cina Nord occidentale per il fatto di essere un letterato, un intellettuale, un "nemico del popolo. Zhang usò la penna per sopravvivere scrivendo un diario.
My rating: ★★★★
Finished: Nov 14 1998
Crater Lake: The Story Behind the Scenery (Discover America: National Parks)
by Ronald G. Warfield
Publisher review:
My rating:
Started: Nov 22 2012
L'interpretazione dei sogni
by Sigmund Freud (1970)
Publisher review: No ISBN L'interpretazione dei sogni è l'opera fondamentale della Psicoanalisi. Il sogno, considerato fino ad allora un fenomeno privo di interesse scientifico recupera in queste pagine tutto il suo significato profondo, scoprendo con il proprio processo di formazione una zona nascosta e quasi irraggiungibile della psiche: l'inconscio.
My rating:
La vendetta di Archimede: gioie e insidie della matematica
by Paul Hoffman (1990)
Publisher review: Le gioie e le insidie della matematica vengono abilmente illustrate nel saggio di Hoffman, che si propone non solo di combattere la visione negativa della matematica, ma anche di illustrarne alcune delle più affascinanti applicazioni moderne.
My rating: