Monday, January 4, 2010

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

I've been aware of Carl Sagan for most of my adult life, but until I read 'Cosmos' I"ve never actually read anything that he's written. This was a huge oversight on my part. 'Cosmos' is one of those books that will change your entire perspective on humanity. I rank this book up there with Bill Bryson's 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' which are two of my favorite non-fiction books of all time.

'Cosmos' is a book about the universe, the history of human understanding of the universe, and speculation about humanity's place in the universe. These are very deep concepts, but Sagan approaches them in a way that is both accessible and inspiring. He talks about these concepts with a sense of awe and reverence that inspires wonder in the reader.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when reading about the vastness of the universe; after all we're quite isolated over here in our arm of the Milky Way. We're floating through space on a ball of dust and we have no idea if anyone else is out there, but Sagan makes this intense isolation feel like it's just temporary; after all, we're only now taking our first steps into the universe. In 'Cosmos' Sagan demystifies the universe and our place in it for the average reader.

Carl Sagan has a deep respect for the human species and he has an amazing ability to make you feel impossibly important and incredibly insignificant at the same time. 'Cosmos' whet my appetite for more Sagan. This is a great book; definitely a must read for anyone interested in astronomy, but also a great book for anyone who likes to ponder things that are a little bigger than reality TV and celebrity gossip.

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