Do not allow your mind to be imprisoned by majority thinking

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World
by Rachel Ignotofsky

We tend to think that until the latter half of the 20th century, science was done by men. The history books and allocation of awards such as Nobel prizes strongly support that view. But in recent years a slew of books have begun to challenge that version of history. This is the first I’ve read but I’m keen to follow it up with Hidden Figures, The Glass Universe and others.

Ignotofsky both wrote and illustrated this beautiful book, profiling women scientists in a design-heavy layout that simply and effectively tells their stories.

From Hypatia (approx 350–415 AD) to Maryam Mirzakhani (1979–present), this book devotes a double-page spread each to women who have made significant advances in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In each, the left-hand page is an illustration of the woman herself, with a few key facts floating around, while the right-hand page contains a bio of the woman and a few small, light-hearted illustrations. In every case there is a quote either by or about the woman, and these often reference being a woman in a man’s world.

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75 years of Penguin

Penguin book design is fab

I love penguins, I love books and I love Penguin Books. I love that little paragraph most Penguins have somewhere in or on them about Allen Lane deciding to start a publishing company when he couldn’t buy a decent book at a railway station. I love the design of their covers and the fantastic range of quality content between them. In short, Penguin Books rule.

A lot of my childhood books were Puffins, which is this year celebrating its 70th anniversary, so happy birthday to them too. And Penguin Classics have always been my preferred editions, even when they cost more than the equivalent from other publishers, because the Penguin ones look better, have better introductions and, in the case of translations, have better translators. I remember when I read The Count of Monte Cristo a few years ago, after a couple of chapters I read a comment online about the Penguin edition being the only one to use a new translation that reinstated the sex and violence that the Victorian translator had censored out, so I immediately went out and bought the Penguin version and switched to that. (And I still didn’t find it particularly sexual or violent. How times change, eh?)

I have really liked the Penguin birthday promotion running at the Oxfam Bookshop on Park Street in Bristol (no idea if their other stores are doing this) for the past few months because it’s meant they have dug out and displayed hundreds of old Penguins, particularly those with the classic orange and green covers. I am a sucker for those editions, even in poor condition, and I loved the Penguin design exhibition when I saw it at the Holborne Museum in Bath. If I didn’t find books such tactile objects I would totally put a bunch of Penguins in a glass frame on my wall. That would look awesome.

So, in short, happy 75th birthday Penguin Books. You’re great.

Mr Penguin Sir

Penguin!