Monday, January 29, 2007

Books

Not too much happening in my world. I'm heading out with my roommate shortly for some guy time: beer at the local bar followed by video games back at our place. We're looking for a good PS2 game: a first-person shooter with interesting environments, preferably one without a lot of stuff to unlock. We're fans of Timesplitters and 007 Goldeneye: the sort of mindless fun where you run around in a maze shooting at your friends. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
So that'll be fun. While we're waiting, here's a couple creepy non-fiction books for those of you looking for the dark side of world history.

The rating system is based on how difficult a book is to read, not how good it is. All the books at Hansisgreat come highly recommended.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

Stiff, by Mary Roach
$12.55 at Bn.com ISBN: 0393324826
*** (moderate)
Want to go to college in the 1700s? You can pay your tuition with the corpse of a dead loved-one rather than cash! This and lots of other ghoulish facts await you in this strange and lively book about human cadavers. Would you believe this book is actually incredibly funny?! Beginning with the uses of human remains in ancient Egypt and ending with them in cutting-edge medical research, with lots of grave-robbing fun in between. A must for fans of HBO's Six Feet Under. Always interesting, often hilarious, and occasionally enough to make anyone squeamish. Read it and then repeat a few of the stories at your next cocktail party.
The Colony, by John Tayman
$27.50 at Bn.com ISBN: 074323300X
*** (moderate)
Vacationing on a beach in Hawaii sounds terrific, unless it's on Molokai, where the US government establishment established a long-running colony for lepers: those suffering from the only disease also considered a crime. Thousands were unwillingly exiled here, many of them not contagious, some of them not even really suffering from leprosy. They just made enemies with the wrong people. Some who were sentenced to exile here ran for it and wound up in shoot-outs with the army. One thing is certain, though: no one sent to Molokai ever returned. Life in a tropical paradise, 4000 miles from land, trapped with horribly disfigured, diseased people has never been so entertaining. And written by the Editor in chief of Men's Health magazine.
The World of Caffeine, by Bennett Weinberg & Bonnie K. Bealer
$17.95 at Bn.com ISBN: 0415927234
** (pretty easy)
Of all the drugs I use, caffeine is my favorite. This is part history, part science, and part charming anecdotes about the only drug most people consider safe enough to give to children. More something to flip through than read cover-to-cover (although it's good enough to read this way as well), the authors cover how coffee was discovered, the proliferation of coffee houses centuries before Starbucks cornered the markets; even the first Pope to try coffee when asked if drinking it was sinful (quite the contrary: he said it was delightful!). If you're as devoted to coffee and teas as I am, you'll find this curious collection a blast. There are even pictures of spiders' webs after the spiders were given a dose of java. Guess how they turned out! This book is always fascinating and fun.

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