According to my Goodreads account, I actually finished reading this book on January 13th, 2017. I started reading it sometime in October or November of last year…lost interest…picked it up again in December while on vacation…lost interest again. This lack of determination and decisiveness is not indicative of the quality of the book. It’s simply how I read. It happens to me all of the time. I’ll buy a book fully intending to read it as soon as I get home. Sometimes I really do read it on the spot. Other times, I will put it down only to pick it back up weeks, months or even years later. It could be that it simply isn’t resonating with me in that particular moment. While I may not find it very interesting the first time around, the second, third or fourth time around I may finally think it’s the best book ever. It really depends on my frame of mind, current events, level of interest in that topic at that particular time, whether I’m in the thralls of another book that has captured my attention or whether it’s the kind of book that’ll take my mind off of something else that’s going on.
Such was the case with this book. I even took it with me to North Carolina during Christmas break to try and “get into it” as they say. But it didn’t work. I was in a different frame of mind when I was up there. I was primarily focused on hiking and didn’t fit in too much time for reading which is rare for me. Clearly, at the time, I needed to hike more than I needed to read. I went hiking almost everyday. Taking a little break from reading was so worth it. My surroundings were so beautiful and I wanted to take it all in by being as present as possible.
When we finally got back home, I picked up the book again and finally read it. Ultimately, the book is entertaining though not groundbreaking. It’s more of a brief biography than an actual expository narrative on how to actually think like Einstein. It talks about his younger formative years, his education, his failed initial conjectures, his life in Europe, his accomplishments, his political inclinations and his move to the United States of America. Had it not been for the titles given to each chapter, I would never have understood the author’s intent to use the aforementioned as step-by-step lessons beyond what was clearly simply more biographical narrative. The chapters’ titles were great but the content that followed was somewhat lacking for their intended purpose. It really wasn’t as instructive as the book’s title alluded.
However, the book was interesting for the most part. It did contain a fair amount of biographical information that I had never known before which made for interesting water-cooler idle chit-chat at the office or with friends. I had no idea that Einstein had been quite the sly Lothario. I was happy to see that his discoveries and contributions that ultimately resulted in the creation of the atomic bomb, had haunted him until the day he died. I would have been greatly disappointed in his humanity had he not expressed any type of remorse or regret. The author offers a very detailed chronology of his life at the beginning of the book. I really enjoyed this resource because it helps to easily place him throughout the rest of the book in the different times of his life. I also absolutely loved that the author dedicated a whole chapter to Einstein’s reading habits and favored books. Of course, most of them ended up on my “To Be Read” list.
I also enjoyed some of the quotes that the author selected to display in the book. Einstein was a fervent follower of current events, politics and a staunch pacifist and defender of civil rights. He was a just and respectful man; respectful of all races, nationalities and colors. He was a stalwart proponent of independent thought and refused to let society dictate his thoughts and actions. Always one to stand out from the crowd in defiance of their intolerance, he opened his home to Marian Anderson, an African-American singer, whom had been turned away by the local hotel when she had arrived at his town to perform. He despised racism commenting, “Race prejudice is a part of a tradition which – conditioned by history – is uncritically handed down from one generation to another. The only remedy is enlightenment and education. This is a slow and painstaking process in which all right-thinking people should take part.”
As for the book, if you’re picking it up to learn more about Einstein then I highly recommend it. If you’re picking it up to truly learn how to think more like Einstein, think of it in social terms and not in terms of learning how to master his scientific genius. Let’s face it, realistically speaking, only a handful of people will ever achieve his level of scientific greatness. Whatever your reason for reading it, I hope you enjoy it! Meanwhile, I need to finish reading “Silence”.