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Not so much a blog; just lots of books

Currently reading

In the Bleak Midwinter: A Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alsyne Novel
Julia Spencer-Fleming
Ninefox Gambit
Yoon Ha Lee, Emily Woo Zeller
The Black Tides of Heaven
JY Yang
Engineering Animals: How Life Works
Alan Mcfadzean, Mark Denny
Progress: 125/314pages
The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization
Nicholas P. Money
Conservation of Shadows
Yoon Ha Lee
Progress: 22%
Le premier jour
Marc Levy
Progress: 180/496pages
Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics)
Herman Melville
Manifold: Time
Stephen Baxter, Chris Schluep
Progress: 99/480pages
The Long War
Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett
Progress: 68/501pages

The World in a Grain by Vince Beisner

The World in a Grain , The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization - Vince Beiser

Now, before you go thinking that I've gone off my rocker, part of my rating is due to the fact that I raced through this book in just two and a half days and I was interested throughout. Yes, it really is a book all about sand, both used as a construction material (concrete) and for glass. It covers the history, some of the technological developments, and although parts of the book are very America-centric, other countries are mentioned and they are mentioned more and more as we get to more recent times. Especially China. And we get a whole history lesson on Dubai (a short one).


I think part of what's great in a book like this is that it takes a prosaic substance like sand and expounds upon it and makes me realize that although intellectually I know sand and gravel go into concrete and sand is needed for glass, I've never actually sat down and thought about just where all that sand comes from and how much is actually being used. And how much is used simply to "reclaim" land.


Anyway, the tone of the book was engaging, and although there were some descriptions of the people that were interviewed, I'm willing to mostly forgive it because they weren't all physical descriptions, and certainly didn't get into fashion. I think the book manages to be fairly balanced in its viewpoints and the presentation of its data as well (the author was undoubtedly very fair towards China). There is a conservationist streak toward the end but I welcomed it and found it to be logical given the data presented. You can basically sum up its conclusions with the following paragraphs (p249):

"Of course there is still a lot of sand on the planet. We're not going to literally use it all up. We won't have tribes of biker mutants battling each other for the last truckloads of the stuff any time soon. But the sand situation is in many ways comparable to that of other crucial natural resources. There is plenty on the planet—but it's often found a long way from where the people who need it live, or it can be extracted only at the risk of severe environmental damage."


and, p 253:

"Sand is just one aspect, one element of the much larger problem of overconsumption. Remember, quartz sand is perhaps the most abundant substance on the planet's surface. If we're running out of that, we really need to rethink how we're using everything."


I think I can finally use a book to meet a Snakes & Ladders square requirement so I'll get to roll two dice. :)


Previous updates:

105 of 255 pages (Terrified mica grains)