The other day I finished a book called Time by Alexander Waugh. I saw the book at a used book store and did little to no research on what it was about. Usually I find a book that sounds interesting, then I read some reviews and try to find out more or less what it was about. I did none of that with this book, I simply saw the title and read the back and was hooked. Needless to say I wish I did a little more research on the book first.
After I finished it I looked it up on Amazon to see the reviews, they are mixed to say the least. In general the book does not disappoint, as it is about time, but not in the sense I was thinking. To start the book he goes into detail about the smallest measurement of time, Planck time, and how it was found by scientists. From there the book goes through each measurement of time, second, minute, day, week, year, decade, century, and so on.
When I saw the title and read what the back, I thought the book was about the idea of time and how humans interpret time. Instead it is the history of how we as humans have come to our current system of keeping time. So there was a bit of a mix up of what I was expecting. Anyways, I read the book cover to cover and glad I did as the last chapter to me was the most interesting part. That is always a fear of mine that I quit reading a book and I will miss out on this idea or something that I would be interested in. Like I have mentioned before there are only two books that I have had to quit reading entirely (All the King’s Men, and Catch 22.) So is it a waste of time to read a whole book spending many hours (many hours because I read slow) to read a book just to get some small idea or something little out of it? I will let you decided, but I don’t think so. To me a new idea is the most powerful thing on the planet. Most of the inventions good or bad start as ideas, obviously. So the power of that one idea, no matter how small, is infinite. I mentioned in an earlier blog post how while reading a comic I got this idea, nothing big, just something that I thought would make a cool story. The idea kept growing and adapting, changing. Finally the idea had grown too powerful to suppress I had to act on it. That small idea led me to start writing and I have not stopped since.
Back to the book…
All in all it was not a bad read, but it did get a bit long in the middle. To me the author was a little wordy throughout most of the book, it was not too bad but in the middle it was tough to struggle through. The middle is by far the most mind numbing to get past. Waugh focuses on the calendar and how it came into being. While this is not what I expected when reading the title, it does in a roundabout way have to do with time in the general sense. As tough as it was to read I did learn a few things so it was not a total waste. Also, I did enjoy the last chapter as stated above, it was more along the lines of what I was expecting when I purchased the book.
The thing that made the book longer and drawn out was that when the author would talk about a famous mathematician, philosopher, or whoever. He would then go off on a page or two rant about who the guy was and what he contributed to society. Which again some of these ramblings were interesting but it did make the book longer and when you mix that with the wordy style the author uses you are in for many long hours.
The ending was most fascinating to me because it was about another aspect of time which I find interesting, the end. The author talks about the different theories scientist are studying to determine how or even if the universe and time itself will end. This is more along the lines of what I was after when I picked up the book, the more metaphysical aspect of time. I just had to read 250 pages to get to it. The author does make some interesting points about God, which I happen to agree with. I will not bore you with my theories on that subject.
I would compare this book to Billy Bryson’s A Brief History of Everything. If you have not read that one stop what you are doing and read it! I kind of felt Waugh tried to cover too much instead of focusing on a few major important things. In the end the book was okay. If you are truly interested in how the calendar was formed and that days and so forth definitely check this one out, or if you just like to learn it will be a nice informative read.