I have officially completed my first full week in quarantine and it has been (surprisingly) good so far. To my own surprise, this has actually been a really productive time for me. You guys helped me a lot to get back on track with my revision (yep, Cambridge is not cancelling exams) by joining my live study with me sessions - thank you to everyone who joined them! If you would like to join them next week, I am streaming them on my YouTube channel from 7am to 11am and from 12pm to 3pm UK time on weekdays. It helps me feel like I am in a library since I know that other people are studying along with me and so it is just a way of not feeling like you are studying alone.
When I am not studying, I am trying to get through the ton of books I bought and then never got around to reading (yep, way too many). If you are still looking for your quarantine reading list, here are some recommendations! All these books had an educational element for me and so if you would like to learn something new while in quarantine, these are for you:
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World - and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
It currently seems like the world is falling apart and nothing is really going well. This book* gives you reason to hope that the world you live in is actually in a better state than you might think. And it asks you to evaluate how you look at the world and the inequalities it contains - most of our understanding contains labels like the 'developed' and the 'developing world,' but this book point out that such labels may be too broad and inadequate to describe the state of the world. The author proposes a new model for thinking of the world and gives us reason for hope that the world has gotten to a better point than most of us would probably think.
The Evils of Revolution
Edmund Burke's 1790 The Evils of Revolution* is a very short read, but it is a quite fascinating read which, despite its age, remains relevant today. Burke is a cautious conservative who looks at the French Revolution from England and is worried by it. He does not argue against its ideas necessarily - but rather against the means. Underlying his fears appears to be the question whether preserving the status quo should not also be given some value - after all, it gives stability and certainty. Revolution gives the opposite. In times where many young people (including myself) identify as activists and try to make changes, Burke's book is an important reminder of the dangers that come with change. It is a reminder to ask ourselves whether what we are doing and, more importantly, how we are doing it is actually leading to an outcome that is better than the situation we currently have.
The Concept of Law
Forgive me for sneaking in a law book, but this one had to be put on this list! Whether you are a law student or not, Hart's book* is readable for anyone! Take a moment and think about law - can you define it? Not as in 'Murder is illegal' but can you actually explain what law is? That whole body of laws in our system adds up to a legal system - but what is that legal system? Is it just rules our government lays down? Or do we contribute to it to? Do we need to accept the law? Do we need to know of laws or are secret laws no law? Does the law need to be ethical or is a genocidal law no law? Did Nazi Germany have law or was it all such a misuse of the word law that it does not qualify as such? Hart's book is a great introduction to such questions and presents one of the (if not the) most influential theory of what makes law law. I loved reading his book as a law student because it has shown me how, despite the fact that I can answer a detailed problem question about proprietary estoppel or breach of contract, I cannot actually define the system those laws operate in. This may sound very technical, but Hart presents his theory in a clear and readable way.
The Order of Time
For some of us, time seems to pass slower in quarantine. For others, time seems to fly. But is time actually passing at the same speed for us all? The Order of Time* starts out with stating 'the simplest:' time does not pass equally quickly at all points on earth. To someone who is completely new to the study of time in physics, this was shocking. Rovelli looks at time as a physicist, but instead of feeling like you are reading a physics textbook, you feel like you are reading a poetry book. The Order of Time is the most beautiful book I have ever read about physics and I would highly recommend this book - it can change your perception of time and it will explain some pretty complicated concepts of physics to you in a clear manner.
Is the Hong Kong Judiciary Sleepwalking to 2047?
As some of you may know, I used to live in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is currently a Special Administrative Region and although it is officially a part of China and is represented on the international level by China, it has its own democratic government and it has a border with China which is controlled. Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under a treaty between Britain and China and under this treaty, Hong Kong's legislative system (so its democratic government) can be changed by China in 2047. Hong Kong is currently a common law jurisdiction (so it is a lot like the UK court system where case law can 'make' law) and this book is written by a former judge of Hong Kong.
He asks whether Hong Kong judges are developing the law adequately and appropriately until things may change in 2047 or if they are not. This book is easily understandable for people who do not study law and I think it can be a fascinating read for anyone. It asks important questions about the integrity of judges and whether they give some cases too much attention. Henry Litton critically examines why some cases - even though being clear-cut in the legal sense - receive much attention in judgements citing even European human rights case law despite all that not being applicable to Hong Kong. His point is basically 'what is the point of doing that?' Why do judges write complicated fifty-page judgements on clear-cut things? How does this contribute in any way to making the law accessible? It is an important and critical examination of the work judges do and I think it is relevant for legal systems beyond that of Hong Kong.
I hope you enjoyed these book recommendations!
Lots of Love,
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