Factfulness – by Hans Rosling

24 02 2020

There is a reason that on the front of this book is a recommendation from Barack Obama, and on the back, from Bill & Melinda Gates. It’s a very good, and very important book. I’d already heard of Hans from his TED talks, if you’re interested, some of his most viewed ones are at the bottom of the page.

We have a tendency to refer to the developed and developing world, but really the world is divided into more than these two categories, it’s more complicated. He gives us four levels, levels one and four are what we’d traditionally refer to as the first and third world, but this is the minority of the worlds population, he tells us that about five billion people actually live on levels two and three, maybe they have a camping stove to cook on rather than a fire, maybe a moped rather than getting everywhere on foot. He gives a thorough explanation of these levels, more than I can here, along with photos to help cement the idea. You can find a large selection of these on their Dollar Street website.

The subtitle is: “Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think.” Hans takes us through ten instincts we all have about the world, which are outdated, or were never the case at all. For example, the gap instinct, that the world is divided into the rich and poor and that there is no one in the middle, which as explained above is not the case at all, in fact, the majority are in the middle. Or that just because things are bad, it doesn’t mean they’re not improving; things can be bad but better than they were.

The book is filled with these really interesting ideas, and each chapter ends with a helpful summary page, highlighting what the issue with the instinct is, and tips to avoid it, which I’m sure I’ll be referring back to!

I have folded down so many pages of this book that I won’t list all the quotes here, but along with that I already have a queue of people to borrow my copy! I normally really struggle with non fiction and would expect this to take a good few months, but it was only 2.5 weeks! While it’s a data-y book, it’s got graphs (his favourite is here, and a live animated version like those in the videos below, you can play with on their Gapminder website) and things to help understand, and is written in a conversational style, full of anecdotes, and is very easy to read.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the state of our world, and facts to back that up, as well as those just wanting to be able to assess information they receive better.





Internet highlights – w/c 16th February 2020

22 02 2020

Tiny roles actors had before they were famous.

Easter Eggs in Frozen 2.

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Internet highlights – w/c 9th February 2020

15 02 2020

Primary School memories.

Lies people have convinced others of.

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Internet highlights – w/c 2nd February 2020

8 02 2020

Unnecessarily gendered products.

Awful people in songs.

Polite graffiti.

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Normal People – by Sally Rooney

5 02 2020

Some people see a book everywhere and think they’re above it. Not me. I see a book everywhere and think, well, if everyone else is reading it, that must mean it’s good! And so I grabbed this in Tesco a couple of weeks ago. I started it Saturday night and finished it tonight, just under four days – not very like me, but I’ve been off work ill, so I had a lot of time!

There are a few things about this book that are a bit different:

  • None of the dialogue is in quote marks, you just have to work out where they’d go.
  • Each chapter starts by jumping forward in time, anything from a few days to a few months (and on one occasion, five minutes). I guess in that sense it had a bit of a feel of One Day about it?
  • The chapters are written in the present tense, apart from the fact that there’s a lot of catching up on what happened in the meantime which is written in the past tense, so it jumps backwards and forwards quite frequently – tricky to start with but you get used to it by the end.

All these put together mean it takes concentration, but I did find it engaging. It’s not often I can read 50 pages of a book without falling asleep, but I did that on three occasions with this book!

Connell and Marianne start the book at high school, his mum is her mum’s cleaner, she’s a bit of a loner, he’s got a load of friends, and they start sort of secretly seeing each other a bit. As usual I don’t want to give too much away, but as we go through the next few years including university, we follow the two of them and, as the blurb says, they “try to stay apart but find that they can’t”.

[There’s a few occasions in the book which get a little graphic, they’re fairly brief when they do happen, but just a warning if that puts you off.]





Internet highlights – w/c 26th January 2020

1 02 2020

Woman asks distant acquaintance to change her dogs name so she can call her daughter that.

People’s work nicknames.

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The Cross and the Switchblade – by David Wilkerson

1 02 2020

Just over a year ago I read a couple of books which you’d probably describe as Christian Autobiography – God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew of Open Doors, and The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom about her experiences in WW2 – and found them incredibly compelling, so I was excited to pick up this very well known book about David Wilkerson, who was called by God from his quiet country parish to work with the gangs in 1950s New York.

It’s another tale of God’s provision at just the moment it’s needed, starting with enough money for him to drive to and from New York the very first time, right through to when they’re buying a building to house those in trouble for tens of thousands, whilst having about $100 in the bank. But it’s not just about money – at one point they’re trying to find a gang member’s family to try to get permission to see him in prison, and so pulling their car over and walking down to some boys to ask if they know where they need to go, they find they’ve parked right out the front of his family’s home.

Their mission is to tell these kids about Jesus, but there’s so many hurdles to get over, probably most notably, drugs and knife crime. But the work they manage to do is incredible.

Definitely a book to challenge our levels of faith!