I have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to reading, although my fiction choices usually are mystery stories if I have a choice. However, for non-fiction, I am willing to consider a lot of different topics. One book that caught my eye was “100 Diagrams That Changed The World” by Scott Christianson.
The description was appealing — an idea or an idea represented by a picture, that the mere conception of it changed our understanding forever. Some of my interest is pedantic…I’ve often searched for ways to explain things simply to get the best explanation possible down in a format that can be grasped immediately by almost anyone. Some of my interest is more philosophical — how did the person come up with the idea, how was it they perceived something others didn’t?
Yet that’s not quite what the book is about. It is more “here’s an important image/drawing/graphic from an important part of history”. So cave drawings i.e. petroglyphs are amazing, but not quite what I’m looking for, nor is the Celtic triple spiral image that is dominant in Celtic culture.
I was gobsmacked though by a description of “Marshall Island Stick Navigation Charts” (pg. 19). According to the text, “as many as 4000 years ago, some human beings left Asia and voyaged in canoes over the vast Pacific Ocean to the islands of Micronesia”, and once there, they created primitive cartographic aides to help them navigate the new area.
Palm leaves, shells, and coconut fibre allowed them to map winds, variable water colours and the location of atolls. Pretty freaking cool. Learning about that was alone worth the price of the book, and I’m only on page 19. As I go, I’m going to point to some interesting other diagrams (in whatever form).