Reading List: The Time Machine

One of the great books of all time. It is not only fun and covers a fascinating topic, but it is jam-packed with symbolism.

Spoiler alert – but I am sure you do know what it is all about – The Traveler goes forward into the future (802,701 AD) and encounters the descendants of the human species, the Morlocks and the Eloi. You have seen the movies. You know what they say, that a movie is like an iceberg - only the top is visible. It is like that with this book as well.

 

The Time Machine by H.G.Wells

Upon arriving in the future and meeting the Eloi, who live in what would seem to us as paradise at the first glance, The Traveler first thinks that he found an ideal society, but this is soon proven to be far from true. Not to spoil it any further, in case someone is not familiar with the story at all - in which case - you need to get familiar ASAP. This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest Time Travel story and it left a huge impact on the genre.

What's really good about the book is symbolism and the ultimate message - If we become too weak and only concerned about our own pleasure, we will become irrelevant as a species. It can be argued that Eloi represent the rich in today’s society.

On the other hand, if we return too far back to our most primitive impulses, and care only our most primitive desires, dire future awaits us indeed, future deprived of any higher form of existence, in other words - back to the caves we go.

The book is arguing that the undoing of the human species will not come through any external factors but through us, through our ways. The divides that we create between ourselves and taking ideas to their absolute extremes will be our undoing. And theoretically one can see it happen. Luckily, we still have time to make it better.

It is ok to care about our own lives and try to be care free and less stressful, but when we see an injustice being done, we should try and do something about it. Balance in all things, my friends. These are the musings I got from reading this wonderful book and if you read it, I am pretty sure your brain will get a kick out of it as well.

Kindle or Real books?

I have one-word answer for you: BOTH! This is what I do. I just can't help it, but I really, really love both. It's really like asking: "Beauty or Brains"? Both, of course!

So, let's go through pluses of both real quick, just so that you can see why, if you care about reading, you should have both.

1. Kindle

  • Kindle is so practical and compact that you can carry it literally everywhere. It even fits in the back pocket of your jeans. You only need to be careful when sitting down. But who sits down, without something to read anyway? :)
  • You can take thousands of books with you, no matter where you go. If you try to take a trip and you want to bring more than one book along, be prepared to leave a lot of clothes behind. Or just put a Kindle in your pocket.
  • As it's not a "tablet", but it uses e-ink technology, battery lasts for like a week. There are just no battery problems, ever. You can charge it wherever there's a USB port available and a micro-USB cable handy.
  • You can read PDFs on it! Simply copy the PDF into the documents folder, and you can read them on Kindle.
  • It's easy on the eyes. Like reading from paper. Again, it's not a tablet. It's based on e-ink technology. It doesn't have this glow that phones and tablets have.
  • You can highlight and "take notes" without damaging the books.
  • It's actually EASIER to read on a Kindle than to read a "Real Book". This one was like a revelation to me and it's something I would have never guessed before. When you are holding a book, you almost always need to use both hands, as papers have the tendency to run away if you're not holding them. With Kindle, you can only use one hand to hold it and to turn the pages, and you have your other hand free .. for other stuff. Or simply to lean on it. However you wish.
  • Get the book instantly. Click and it's there. OK, this also might be a minus, as bookstores are really ... dare I say ... romantic places.
  • Books are lot less expensive in Kindle edition. There's a huge, huge amount of free ones, too. All the classics, you can get them all for free basically. This is also a huge point for me. You can buy a lot of good books in Kindle version for only a few euros.
  • Read at night time more easily. No getting up to turn off the light.

More...

My Reading List - Issue #1: Simon Blackburn - Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy

I'm one of those people that like to read. I only wish I had more time to read all the programming books and also all the great and important stuff which has nothing to do with development.

I have always had more than a passing interest in philosophy, so last year I got this interesting book from Amazon. Kindle Edition costs only 8 Euros here in Germany, which I would say is 8 Euros well spent.

It's a relatively simple introduction to all the big questions you might ask yourself at some point. And parts of it really help to expand your mind a bit, once you start thinking about all the concepts presented here. I have read it and for many moments I was really stunned while following author's train of thought, because sometimes you're just not programmed to think in a certain way. Take this small example:

... let us imagine a man who, while standing on the street, would say to himself:

"It is six o'clock in the evening, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can also climb up the tower to see the sunset; I can go to the theater; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return. All of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now, but with just as free a will I shall go home to my wife".

This is exactly as if water spoke to itself: "I can make high waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can rush down hill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming and gushing (yes! in the waterfall), I can rise freely as a stream of water into the air (yes! in the fountain), I can, finally boil away and disappear (yes! at a certain temperature); but I am doing none of these things now, and am voluntarily remaining quiet and clear water in the reflecting pond.

Arthur Schopenhauer, Essay on the Freedom of the Will

 

This quote is used in the book when author speaks about free will. The book has many more interesting quotes, concepts and discussions about philosophical themes and I would really recommend it to anyone looking to expand their mind, if even by just a little bit. Reading this book will definitely do that.