A Little History of the World

I get insanely inspired everytime I walk into Kinokuniya at Dubai Mall, I spend hours in there, clumsily carrying a handful of books that I manage to pick up, walking through various rows, flipping through pages, reading book reviews and analyzing book covers.

As always, I end up with a pile of books I never get down to reading.  I was recently handed E.H Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. The author sounded vaguely familiar, I find out of course he wrote the bible of art history books “The Story of Art”, over 700 pages or so of an art history textbook that I was forced to become best friends with when studying for my AP exams in high school.

Anyway, Gombrich wanted history to be more accessible to children, and thought that if history was explained to a child in simple terms, they would be able to grasp historical events quite easily. He took it upon himself to write this book in six weeks, he would spend his day researching  historical chunks in the library, then spend his nights writing the corresponding chapters.

I’m about halfway through the book, and can I just say I am LOVING it. This book is colorful, informative, and most importantly fairytale-like.  Gombrich writes as if he’s reading a bedtime story to a child.

Something I learnt about whilst reading today was the origins of the Oracle of Delphi. As a child, I was pretty familiar with the story of the Oracle of Delphi, throughout my childhood she appeared in films, cartoons, video games, you name it. Historically, the Delphi temple was in a volcanic region, and in this temple there was a small fissure in the ground where vapour would rise, if anyone inhaled it clouded their minds and made them say silly things which seemed like they were drunk. The Greeks thought god was speaking to them that way and put a priestess to sit over that small fissure while other priests sat there deciphering her babble.

how hilarious is that.

anyway, I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s looking back to getting on the reading train again, it’s totally great.