Year 5, Book 9

9. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes

I saw this book listed on a ton of best of booklists for 2009, so I decided I should read it. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting based on the title. I never really got the whole terror part, which made me think it was going to be a whole lot of stuff about people having a backlash about scientific advances that they didn’t understand. In fact, that wasn’t the case at all. Perhaps I would have been more prepared if I remembered anything from my high school or college English classes. Whereas today science and literature seem to be wholly disparate subjects in which the same people are rarely if ever involved, in the Romantic Era the scientists and the literary minded were the same people. They would write poetry about scientific discoveries and literature based on science. The book basically followed a handful of people who were big names in science during the Romantic Era discussing their lives and their discoveries. Most if not all of those people wrote poetry and some prose about their scientific work in addition to other now well known figures such as Shelley and Coleridge writing about them as well. The book was very dense and took awhile to read as such, but it definitely informed me of a lot of things I didn’t know. I’ll give it a 6 out of 10 because although interesting it is a long, tough read that you have to want to get through in order to finish. At least in my opinion.

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