Books and Stars: My Journey from Day to Night by Shizu
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
My time with Soneva began as a casual employee at the second-largest kids club in all of South Asia, or what we in Soneva refer to as "The Den". After a year of working at the Den, I seized the wonderful opportunity to learn about the night sky, something I have always been fascinated by. As Maldivians, being on the equator makes us incredibly fortunate and gives us the marvellous opportunity to bear witness to both the northern and southern hemispheres. My favourite aspect of the work is being able to look at planets and other celestial residents hundreds of light years away like star clusters, and nebulas, as well as having the expertise to find constellations and explain the night sky's history.
It was whilst I was preparing for this serendipitous new role that Georgie, who you may recall as our former Barefoot Bookseller, suggested that I look after the bookshop for an interim period until we welcome our new bookseller. The experience so far has been as wonderful as it sounds. To be surrounded by books the whole day feels surreal and so soothing and, this has been an experience I needed after a frenetic period in my life. I find that this position as the temporary bookseller has a feeling of kismet to it, especially considering that I will soon be permanently taking over as the in-house astronomer; there are so many books that I can delve into about the night sky.
During my role as the Barefoot Bookseller, I've had the pleasure of hosting visiting author and Soneva Star, Molly Oldfield. I also had the privilege of recommending books to our guests and learning about their reading preferences, while idling around the island with the book TukTuk and sharing tales with children. It has been a great opportunity for me to discover new topics and get myself back into the habit of reading. So far, I'd say running a bookshop on an island has been a very fulfilling dream.
Here are my favourite recent reads:
The Courage to be Disliked by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi
The courage to be disliked teaches you how to tap into your inner strength to become the best and purest version of yourself, alter your course in life, and discover true happiness. The writers demonstrate how we are all free to select our own destiny free of others' expectations, doubts and past experiences. It's a tremendously liberating ideology that enables us to gain the confidence to change and to disregard any restriction we or others may have placed on ourselves. This book has significantly altered my perspective on life and decision making.
The Book of Hope by Douglas Carlton Abrams and Jane Goodall
Who in these times couldn't use a big dose of positivity? This is one of my favourite books. Jane Goodall is such an inspiration. My key lesson from this book is that all it takes to go forward and bring out change is one little spark of hope. Jane tells the tale of how she came to be a messenger of hope, from living through World War II to her years in Gombe. She discusses having to leave the forest to travel the world in her capacity as an advocate for environmental justice while discussing the experiences that shaped her discoveries and beliefs. This is a great book if you love nature and animals.
The Human Cosmos by Jo Marchant
In this book, Jo Marchant gives us a tour of the evolution of mankind's interaction with the cosmos. As we journey to Lascaux, we stop at a 5,000 year-old tomb in Newgrange to see the winter solstice. We see Tahitian sailors using the stars for navigation and medieval monks debating the concept of time. We learn how the sun's chemical makeup can be determined by light, and we follow Einstein as he realises that space and time are one and the same. It shows that we need to rediscover the universe we inhabit, and why stargazing can be so beneficial for us.
The Great Unknown by Marcus du Sautoy
In The Great Unknown, one of the world's most beloved mathematicians takes us into the minds of science's greatest innovators as he probes the many deep mysteries we have yet to solve. He reminds us that major breakthroughs were often ridiculed at the time of their discovery and takes us on a whirlwind tour of seven frontiers of knowledge, where scientists are grappling with the unknown. Can you locate consciousness in the brain? Is our universe infinite? What is dark energy made of? What happens to time in space? Is it possible to beat ageing? At once exhilarating and mind-bending, The Great Unknown will challenge you to think in new ways about every aspect of the known world. It invites us to consider big questions - about who we are and the nature of God - that even the most creative scientists have yet to answer definitively.
Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed
Discover the power of cognitive diversity through real-life examples. Rebel Ideas premise is that success is no longer defined by talent, knowledge or skill, but by cognitive diversity. Differences in race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religion etc have been shown in studies to increase group wisdom. Teams with a wide range of personal experiences tend to have a richer, more comprehensive understanding of their co-workers.
Mr. Syed contends that diverse teams that can genuinely collaborate and challenge their superiors make the greatest outcomes. This is a must read for everyone, but especially for those in charge of decision-making and recruitment.
Lots of love, Shizu