Smarter By Sunday

One of the many awesome things about reading and books is the endless variety existing in genre, plot, character, subject, perspective, style and so on …

Not so long ago I happened upon a book that has a premise different to anything I have read previously. Naturally I leapt on it enthusiastically and have decided to accept and embrace the challenge it offers.

The book is officially called The New York Times Presents Smarter By Sunday: 52 Weekends of Essential Knowledge For The Curious Mind and is presented as follows.

For an entire calendar year the reader will read one chapter a weekend on a different topic chosen by the editors of the NY Times. Each chapter represents a small sample of knowledge that makes up what they refer to as a ‘well rounded education’. The editors readily acknowledge that the book has a Western perspective when looking at the subjects contained within but they explain this as a result of the book’s main audience coming from this part of the world’s population.

Thankfully this perspective does not prevent there being chapters on the histories of Japan and China or discussions on Islam, Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, Napoleon, mathmatics and many many more divergent but endlessly fascinating topics.

Each chapter is split into two parts – Saturday and Sunday – with the idea being that by the end of the weekend you might be that little bit smarter or more enlightened than when you went to bed on Friday night. 

From the get go this book is quite different for me as it’s a step outside my normal reading comfort zone. Certainly not because of its content (that is right up my street), but because it represents a long term commitment. Generally I stick to books of around 250 pages in length (give or take a few) as in the past I have had a bad habit of not being able to stick with books over a long time period and a high page count. In fairness those works have been within the fiction genre. Smarter by Sunday is non-fiction and split into very manageable chunks so I am hopeful that the outcome with this book will be different to past failures. 

And because of its format I feel comfortable reading another book at the same time, something I  don’t have a history of doing. I have no idea why this is, I just never have. Guilt perhaps at not giving my full and undivided attention to one author’s story? 

Sidenote: I am also branching out into audio books so that I can get even more variety and up my book consumption. 

As I said earlier this is a challenge. I want to prove to myself that I can do it and I love the idea of curling up in bed on a Saturday and Sunday night filling my mind with the most wonderful and interesting things.

I have read my first few weekend’s worth at the time of writing this which covered the topics of the birth of western literature, the most violent century in history and a history of Japan (albeit a quick one). That’s a journey of thousands of years in a couple of weeks! I have the feeling that there won’t be a dull moment reading wise with this book. Hopefully this time next year as I turn the last page I’ll be able to say my jaunt through history has been completed and I am a wiser person for it.

(Header Image: Negative Space)

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