Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature by Catherine Sheldrick Ross

Sometimes when I finish a book that I loved I can’t wait to sit down and gush about how great it is. Other times, I love it but I just know I won’t be able to give it proper credit: I struggle to explain just why it is so incredible.

Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature by Catherine Sheldrick Ross (April 2014, Kids Can Press) is a book I struggle to describe. The title suggests something a little bit academic.

But it is far from simply a geometry book about shapes. Rather, Shapes in Math, Science, and Nature is a fascinating activity book for kids with activities and experiments that can get even the math and science averse excited about shapes. It covers not only the subjects indicated on the cover but also history, culture and anthropology, ancient games, and even a little bit of literature. Continue Reading

A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton

A History of the World in 12 Maps by Jerry Brotton (Viking, November 2013) is not truly a world history story. It is, however, a look at how maps and history are intricately related. Each map throughout history tells what is important to the learned in the era in which it has been created. Likewise, each map contributes to how the subsequent generations continue to interpret the world.Continue Reading

World War I: History in an Hour by Rupert Colley (Brief Thoughts)

World War I: History in an Hour by Rupert Colley (HarperPress, 2012) is just what it says it is: a brief look at the war for those interested in a taste of what it is about. HarperPress provides ebooks in this series for a very low cost (it appears to be a $1.99 or $2.99 price; see here). For people interested in history but that don’t have time for a full-length nonfiction book about it, this series may satisfy your curiosity as it did for me!

True, I felt like names, dates, and places were thrown at me, and yet, even after a brief hour of reading, I do feel a little bit more satisfied. There is a lot of history to be learned and only limited time in which to learn it. I must admit that World War I has never interested me to the same extent that World War II has. This book satisfied my curiosity for now. After I finished, I found a few novels that take place during the World War I era that I want to read from my Classics Club list and started them. I like having the context of the war in mind as I read.

I look forward to revisiting this series in the future! It was very convenient.

Note: I read a digital review copy from the publisher via

World History

I have been wanting to read a general overview of world history, so without any other ideas I picked up Cracking the AP World History Exam 2012, a general review book for high school students produced by The Princeton Review. I read about 200 pages of world history summaries, timelines, and key terms.

As was my goal, I feel I have received a reminder of the course of history over the past 8,000 years, with a general picture of how world history fits together: the themes of history, the progress of various developments, and the ways technology changed the way of life throughout history. The book is written “to the test,” so in some respects it misses the point of learning history for the sake of learning history. But on the other hand, it helped me recognize my own strengths and weaknesses, and it gave me ideas of what subjects I’d like to study in more depth, such as the following:

  • Alexander the Great and Hellenism
  • Ancient Chinese and Indian history and the Silk Road
  • Ancient African civilizations
  • Charlemagne
  • Europe during the years before the Renaissance
  • The Renaissance
  • History of the Russian Czars
  • Very early American colonies
  • Napoleon and Waterloo
  • Wiemar Republic and the Rise of the Third Reich
  • WWI and WWII, especially Japanese Imperialism
  • The Cold War (in general)

Cracking the AP World History Exam also has sample tests, practice questions, and descriptions of the AP Exam. I skipped those portions. I’m not learning to pass a test (I’m awful at those) but rather, I’m learning for the sake of knowing. At any rate, I’m sure this book would help those interested in preparing for the tests: it provides a great overview of history and the ways it ties together.

For my part, however I’m interested in any books you can recommend that cover World History in general and/or any of the subjects I mention above. I am certainly interested in continuing to increase my understanding of the history of the world. I’ve only just begun.