Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 41 & 42 - 2012 (last update for this year!)

Book 41: Royal Observatory Greenwich: Souvenir Guide by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich – 78 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
No blurb – its about the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in London. What more is there to say?

This was another of the various ‘tourist’ books I picked up while living (and therefore travelling) around the UK. This one is obviously about Greenwich, which is the home of the prime meridian of the world (the line differentiating east from west) and the establishment of a system to measure longitude and keep time in a simple and easy fashion. It’s fairly high level, covering off a variety of topics related to the site and the understanding of time and positioning, particularly for sailing. Fascinating and provides enough information for casual interest without expecting the reader to have a lot of background knowledge.

41 / 50 books. 82% done!

11614 / 15000 pages. 77% done!

Book 42: The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich – 255 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
The high-energy tale of how two socially awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook. Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends-outsiders at a school filled with polished prep-school grads and long-time legacies. They shared both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women. Eduardo figured their ticket to social acceptance-and sexual success-was getting invited to join one of the university's Final Clubs, a constellation of elite societies that had groomed generations of the most powerful men in the world and ranked on top of the inflexible hierarchy at Harvard. Mark, with less of an interest in what the campus alpha males thought of him, happened to be a computer genius of the first order. Which he used to find a more direct route to social stardom: one lonely night, Mark hacked into the university's computer system, creating a ratable database of all the female students on campus-and subsequently crashing the university's servers and nearly getting himself kicked out of school. In that moment, in his Harvard dorm room, the framework for Facebook was born. What followed-a real-life adventure filled with slick venture capitalists, stunning women, and six-foot-five-inch identical-twin Olympic rowers-makes for one of the most entertaining and compelling books of the year. Before long, Eduardo's and Mark's different ideas about Facebook created in their relationship faint cracks, which soon spiraled into out-and-out warfare. The collegiate exuberance that marked their collaboration fell prey to the adult world of lawyers and money. The great irony is that while Facebook succeeded by bringing people together, its very success tore two best friends apart. "The Accidental Billionaires" is a compulsively readable story of innocence lost-and of the unusual creation of a company that has revolutionized the way hundreds of millions of people relate to one another.

I go through phases where I want to read about particular events or topics. Towards the end of 2012 I went through a phase where I want to read more non-fiction and I zeroed in on non-fiction related to the tech industries. This was the first of the books I read on that topic, after having seen the movie based on the book. If you’ve been living under a rock since about 2006, you won’t know that this insidious thing called Facebook now exists, slowly taking over every facet of our lives (I shouldn’t be so harsh – Facebook has many positives: the ability to stalk people you hated in primary school and know you are better than them, the ability to brag about all your holidays overseas while your friends labour along with their snotty little children, keeping in contact with relatives in distant countries so you have somewhere to crash when you end up there, etc). This is the story (how much is true is up to who’s side you’re on) of how Facebook came to be. Its pretty clear the movie follows reasonably closely to this book, but nonetheless its an interesting read. Anyone who’s anyone knows the ‘creator’ of Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg, but the Zuckerberg of this book comes across quite differently to the one you see in those little facebook posts he makes or in interviews (he seems less personable in the book). The treatment Eduardo cops seems pretty crap and those two giant rowing twins – I can’t decide if I feel sorry for how stupid they were, or annoyed at how arrogant. Its obvious why the story wound up as a movie, as the whole thing has a bit of a Hollywood feel to it. An interesting read about the creation of the most prolific social networking site in the world.

42 / 50 books. 84% done!

11869 / 15000 pages. 79% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – 495 pages
-        The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – 457 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: non-fiction, technology, travel writing

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