Monday, 22 October 2012

112/111 - Sum by David Eagleman

I've had this book for quite a while now. I bought it back when I worked for Waterstones, and I primarily bought it because I really liked the cover, which has a door on it which is open just a crack, and the door is actually a hole in the cover! The tag line is '40 tales from the afterlives' and there are lots of endorsements from people all over it, which is pretty cool I guess.

I really enjoyed this book, although reading it was sometimes a strange experience. I read some of it at home some of it at the pub and some of it hungover the next day. When I was reading it at the pub I was waiting for some friends to arrive and I was sat across from two extremely drunk middle aged women who were celebrating the fact that one of them had just been offered her first job after eight years of unemployment. Ouch. They didn't really understand what the book was about but they were pleasant enough I suppose.

Anyway, onto the book.

The book is split into 40 different little stories, each one with a slightly different take on what life after death is like. Some of them talk about our relationship with our creators, and the reasons they have created us and what we are searching for while we are alive. It also talks about heaven and hell and the different punishments we might end up experiencing depending on the whims of our creator. For example one afterlife is spent in the suburbs leading pretty much normal lives, however eventually becoming bored with eternity, while the virtuous get to enjoy a peaceful death. I really really liked this book.

I think my favourite story was one of the first stories, which talks about what the afterlife would be like if we lived out all of our different experiences at once. So the idea would be, you do all your eating at once, and all your sleeping at once, but you also experience all your pain consecutively, and all your sadness consecutively. You also re-live all your love and happiness consecutively. So, you re-live all the experiences of your life but it was interesting to think about how much time in your life you spend, say, cutting your nails, or watching television, or blinking. If you had to re-live all these moments at once, would you feel as though you had spent enough time laughing, or relaxing, or being in love, versus the amount of time you spent being angry, or feeling anxious, or bored? Interesting.

Next: The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton

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