Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Yesterday was a bank holiday here in England which meant I had the day off work. Normally this is great, however I am in the middle of working a long set of night shifts so was stuck in a difficult situation. Do I try to stay awake and enjoy the day then sleep normally at night time knowing I have to go to work the next night? Or do I stay awake all night at home and sleep all the next day as I normally do and be ready to return to work the next night?
In the end I decided it would be a brilliant opportunity to do some serious reading of a book I am struggling to make headway with. I would be alone all night without any interruptions or distractions – perfect!
I have been reading the ‘Voyage of the Beagle’ since the beginning of March this year and had only managed to reach page 135. I am enjoying the book and certainly learning a lot from it however it is not a ‘page turner’ in the traditional respect and is very scientific and often difficult to follow.
The HMS Beagle sailed across the world on a five year survey mission in 1831. Among the crew was a young English geologist named Charles Darwin. The journey took place at the very beginning of his long, illustrious career in science. It is really interesting to read of his experiences on the voyage not just of wildlife and fossils but of encounters with local people and tribesmen and women of whom he often described as ‘savages’ or ‘barbarians’.
I found I could only read the book in segments of 20 pages or so at a time then I would take a break of perhaps 15 minutes then attack the book again. In this manner I was able to stay up all night and read 101 pages. I had begun to struggle by 4am but I set myself a target and with the assistance of generous helpings of strong coffee I was able to do it. 101 pages may not seem like such an achievement but for a non-scientist I don’t think this is bad going. I am feeling quite smug right now!
I intend to post a full review of the book when I finish it then move onto Mr Darwin’s more famous effort ‘On The Origin of Species’ this probably won’t happen until 2020 so don’t hold your breath!