Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 22 + 23


Today I would like to recommend a book that was in my „Books that matter“ subscription box and I’m so grateful for it. This one might have not reached my radar as I’m not exactly the self-help type, had never heart of #slumflower and that would have been a tragic miss.

This book was so much more than I expected from the colourfol cover. Wow. Chidera Eggerue asa „The Slumflower“ is a name inspired by the ‚Slumflower‘ project, which is centred around the idea of a rose growing from concrete. Growing up in Peckham, South-East London, Chidera shares so many similarities with this concept of beautifully growing, glowing and flourishing in an environment that mainly appears to promote the opposite, especially being a predominantly black neighbourhood which is currently undergoing heavy gentrification.

Eggerue is an award-winning blogger, radio host and her biggest role model beside her mother is not surprisingly Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This is what it says on her publishers site Quadrille about the book:

„In What A Time To Be Alone, The Slumflower will be your life guru, confidante and best friend. She’ll show you that being alone is not just okay: it’s just about the best freaking thing that’s ever happened to you. As she says, ‘You’re bad as hell and you were made with intention.’ It’s about time you realised.
Peppered with insightful Igbo proverbs from Chidera’s Nigerian mother and full of her own original artwork, What A Time To Be Alone will help you navigate the modern world. We can all decide our own fates and Chidera shows us how, using a three-part approach filled with sass, wisdom and charm.

  1. Learn how to celebrate YOU – decide your self-worth, take time to heal and empower yourself in this messy world.
  2. Don’t worry about THEM – avoid other people’s demons and realize that everyone is protecting themselves from something – no matter how aggressive their method.
  3. Feel the togetherness in US – sustain and grow healthy relationships and avoid toxicity in your friendships.

Own your story. Create your own narrative. Read this book“. #WATTBA

Here is an interesting interview with Chidera.
So don’t hesitate and make this a great Christmas present for youself or a loved one and combine it with a subscription box for „Books that Matter“ which is a gift I got for my birthday and I can guarantee that is a great gift to get.

Book-a-Day Challenge: Day 15+16

The recommendation today comes from the deepest corners of the sea. This wonderful book about one of my favorite creatures: The Octopus 🙂

This extract from the publishers site tells you best why this is the book makes a great present:

„What if intelligent life on Earth evolved not once, but twice? The octopus is the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien. What can we learn from the encounter? In Other Minds, Peter Godfrey-Smith, a distinguished philosopher of science and a skilled scuba diver, tells a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself – a story that largely occurs in the ocean, where animals first appeared.

Tracking the mind’s fitful development from unruly clumps of seaborne cells to the first evolved nervous systems in ancient relatives of jellyfish, he explores the incredible evolutionary journey of the cephalopods, which began as inconspicuous molluscs who would later abandon their shells to rise above the ocean floor, searching for prey and acquiring the greater intelligence needed to do so – a journey completely independent from the route that mammals and birds would later take.

But what kind of intelligence do cephalopods possess? How did the octopus, a solitary creature with little social life, become so smart? What is it like to have eight tentacles that are so packed with neurons that they virtually ‘think for themselves‘? By tracing the question of inner life back to its roots and comparing human beings with our most remarkable animal relatives, Godfrey-Smith casts crucial new light on the octopus mind – and on our own.“

Published by Harper Collins.

Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 12


Today I would like to show you this wonderful coffee table book with some stunning photographs of stars, comets and galaxies in the alps.

Most of you have probably enjoyed the blue sky in the alps several times and if you have stayed over night in a hut, you probably had a glimpse of what the night sky has to offer in these remote areas. The authors have spent more than 250 nights on various summits of the alps to catch these breathtaking pictures.

I stumbled across the book on one of my favorite blogs „Elementares Lesen“ – and had to get it for myself. This book is a the perfect present for all those stargazers and astronomy lovers out there.

Look at these pictures that I found on the publishers page „Knesebeck„:



To find out more about space and astrophysics I highly recommend you go to „Hirngymnastik Astrophysik“ and don’t forget to put some binoculars on your wish list.

Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 9


I had never heart of Will Durant before somebody recommended this really excellent „The Story of Philosophy“ to me. When I looked him up I was astonished to see that this guy has basically written the entire History of the World in 11 volumes in collaboration with his wife Ariel. They had planned it into the 20th century, but due to their old the 11th volume The Age of Napoleon ended in 1975. They left behind notes for a 12th volume, The Age of Darwin, and an outline for a 13th, The Age of Einstein, which would have taken The Story of Civilization to 1945.

Their idea was to unify and humanize the great body of historical knowledge, which had become fragmented into esoteric specialties and too complex, and to vitalize it for contemporary application.

The couple shared a very intense love for each another. After Will entered the hospital, Ariel stopped eating, and died on October 25, 1981. Though their daughter, Ethel, and grandchildren strove to keep Ariel’s death from Will, he learned of it on the evening news, and died two weeks later, at the age of 96, on November 7, 1981.

Back to „The Story of Philosophy“ in which Durant profiles several important Western philosophers and their ideas from Socrates and Plato to Nietzsche. Durant was aiming to show the interconnectedness of their ideas and how each philosopher build on the ideas of the ones before him.

There are nine chapters each focused on one philosopher, and two more chapters each containing briefer profiles of three early 20th century philosophers namely Henri Bergson, Benedetto Croce (of whom I had never heart before) and Bertrand Russell who published his „History of Western Philosophy“ in 1945 and is an equally astonishing read

In a later edition Durant accepted the criticism for not including philosophers from Asia.

The book was published in 1926 but also due to its subject the book has aged well. Will Durant is a good writer and the book is very accessible. I think it makes a really good Christmas present for anybody who’s interested in testing the waters of Philosophy.

Are you interested in Philosophy and which philosopher interests you the most?

Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 7


Jared Diamond, the winner of the Pulitzer price, argues in this book quite convincingly that geographical and environmental factors shaped the world we live in. Societies that had the first crack in producing food and start agriculture advanced much quicker beyond the hunter-gatherer stage, developed writing, technologies, the state and also organized religion.

They also were the first do „develop“ germs and virus which came from living in close proximity to the animals and they also invented deadly weapons which gave them a major advantage when it came to conquering land and decimate culture that had been slower in adapting agriculture and therefore were often still in preliterate stages.

Jared Diamond offers a stunning analysis of why civilization emerged in the places in which it did and why societies that had a head start could keep it until today.

“History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples‘ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves” 

His main theory is that it is not racial biology that determines the victor in history but a complex combination of agriculture, population size, geography, and continental orientation. A theory that I found entirely fascinating and compelling. For the enourmous amount of research in an astounding number of fields like biology, agriculture, history, climatology, sociology, etc. I found the book refreshingly accessible. I can totally understand why Mr. Diamond received so much praiseand the Pulitzer for this important work written in a way that non-scientists can grasp quite easily.

“In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.”

“It’s striking that Native Americans evolved no devastating epidemic diseases to give to Europeans in return for the many devastating epidemic diseases that Indians received from the Old World.” 

Guns, Germs and Steel chronicles the way in which the world we live in started and convincingly dismantles any racially based theories on human history.

Follow up today’s recommendation with Yuval Noah Harari’s „Sapiens“ and Stephen Greenblatt’s „The Swerve

Book-a-Day Challenge – Day 3


Had to take this one diredtly from the blurp of the book, couldn’t resist – I couldn’t say it any better:

„Forget the Kama Sutra. When it comes to inventive sex acts, just look to the sea. There we find the elaborate mating rituals of armored lobsters; giant right whales engaging in a lively threesome whilst holding their breath; full moon sex parties of groupers and daily mating blitzes by blueheaded wrasse. Deep-sea squid perform inverted 69s, while hermaphrodite sea slugs link up in giant sex loops. From doubly endowed sharks to the maze-like vaginas of some whales, Sex in the Sea is a journey unlike any other to explore the staggering ways life begets life beneath the waves.

Beyond a deliciously voyeuristic excursion, Sex in the Seauniquely connects the timeless topic of sex with the timely issue of sustainable oceans. Through overfishing, climate change, and ocean pollution we are disrupting the creative procreation that drives the wild abundance of life in the ocean. With wit and scientific rigor, Hardt introduces us to the researchers and innovators who study the wet and wild sex lives of ocean life and offer solutions that promote rather than prevent, successful sex in the sea. Part science, part erotica, Sex in the Sea discusses how we can shift from a prophylactic to a more propagative force for life in the ocean.“

This is an incredibly interesting and funny book where you learn so much more about the various creatures in the sea than you ever expected. I totally fell in love with the love sick lobster and if I wasn’t madly in love with octopodes before …

This book is the perfect Christmas gift for the inner Marine Biologist in yourself or any of your family members.

Compliment „Sex in the Sea“ with Sly Montgomery’s „The soul of an Octopus“ and Susan Middleton’s „Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrats, the Backbone of Life“

Do you have a favorite animal in the deep sea…

Skin in the Game – Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Nassim Nicholas Taleb oder auch NNT ist eine ziemliche Diva und es ist ganz offensichtlich, dass er eine ganze Reihe Menschen für absolute Idioten hält. Er ist sehr von sich und seinen Ansichten überzeugt, klingt auch sehr überzeugend, aber ob er wirklich so umfassend im Recht ist mit all seinen Ansichten, weiß ich wirklich nicht.

Ich glaube NNT macht sich mit jedem neuen Buch auch neue Feinde und wenn der Leser dieses Buches sich hier nicht wenigstens 1-2 mal angegriffen fühlt und empört ist, dann hat er das Buch glaube ich nicht richtig gelesen. Taleb ist sehr direkt, hat eine scharfe Zunge, aber mit einigen Sachen hat er durchaus Recht. Mich stört nur, dass er seine doch recht scharfen Meinungen nicht immer mit wirklich nachvollziehbaren Argumenten stützt, sondern es dem Leser überlässt, sich den Beweis seiner Thesen selbst zu suchen.

„Ausschlaggebend ist nicht, was eine Person hat oder nicht hat; ausschlaggebend ist, was sie Angst hat zu verlieren“

„Wer redet, sollte auch handeln, und nur wer handelt, sollte auch reden“

„Lassen Sie sich nicht von Personen beraten, die davon leben, Ratschläge zu geben, es sei denn, sie haften für die Folgen“

„Bürokratie ist ein Mechanismus, durch den eine Person von den Folgen ihres Handelns abgetrennt wird.“

„Es ist schlichtweg unmoralisch ein öffentliches Amt zur persönlichen Bereicherung auszunutzen“

Die Prämisse des Buch ist, dass man den Meinungen oder Prognosen anderer Leute nur dann Wert beimessen soll, wenn diese auch tatsächlich „Skin in the Game“ haben, also wenn sie auch persönlich etwas einsetzen und etwas zu verlieren haben. Es sind die Resultate die zählen, Meinungen und Gerede allein ist wertlos. Es ist seiner Meinung nach einfach, eine Menge Meinungen zu vertreten oder Dinge anzuleiern, wenn man selbst keinerlei Konsequenzen zu fürchten hat, oder man vom Ergebnis selbst nicht betroffen ist. Das gilt in seinen Augen insbesondere für Akademiker oder die Intellektuellen, die NNT ein ganz besonderer Dorn im Auge sind. Er setzt viel auf die „harten“ Naturwissenschaften, die seiner Meinung nach durch das Falsifikationsprinzip vor einfachen Glaubenssätzen stärker geschützt sind.

Das Buch ist eine ziemliche Schimpftirade und größtenteils etwas unstrukturiert, fast schon ein wenig stream-of-consciousness. Es hat mich stellenweise sehr begeistert, oft hätte ich NNT aber auch gerne vors Schienbein getreten, wenn er sich in meiner Nähe befunden hätte. Man mag nicht immer mit ihm übereinstimmen, aber er bringt einen zum Nachdenken, ist ein sehr kluger Kopf und er läßt nie einen Zweifel, auf welcher Seite er sich bei der jeweiligen Fragestellung gerade befindet.

Es geht ihm um Symmetrie, darum, den Schaden zu teilen das Bonus/Malus System, also auch eine Strafe zu zahlen, wenn etwas misslingt. Wie schwierig und vielleicht überholt die bestehende Links-Rechts-Etikettierung ist, zeigt sich vielleicht an diesem Spruch:

„Auf Bundesebene bin ich Liberalist;
auf Staatsebene Republikaner;
auf Kommunalebene Demokrat;
und auf der Verwandten- und Bekanntenebene Sozialist“

Mich hat das Buch nicht durchgängig überzeugt, aber es ist eine interessante und provokante Lektüre, die mich zumindest auf einige Autoren wie Frédéric Dard, Libanius Antiochus, Michael Oakeshort, Ibn Battuta, Saadia Gaon oder Ammianus Marcellinus aufmerksam gemacht hat, von denen ich bislang noch nie gehört hatte.

Ich danke dem Penguin Random House Verlag für das Rezensionsexemplar.

Hier ein Vortrag des Autors zum Thema „Antifragilität“: