Nov 18, 2012

Wonderful Life with the Elements

What we really want to know about an element - how do I say it in Japanese, and will it make my voice sound funny?
I was excited when No Starch press offered to send a copy of Bunpei Yorifuji's Wonderful Life with the Elements to check out. The book is a delight! Am I supposed to be objective? I don't know, I've never done a book review before. My sense is that I'm supposed to say if I liked it or not, and I did. The drawings are charming (I wonder how many Bunpei character tattoos there are out there?) and the information in it is deceptively rich. I can imagine this book could capture the imagination of a kid at just the right moment, when they're deciding whether to stick with chemistry or write it off as something they'll never really get.

My high school chemistry teacher used to warn everyone to keep both feet firmly planted inside the chemistry train and hold on tight, because "the chemistry train keeps chugging along, and once you fall off, it's real hard to get back on!" He'd check in with everyone from time to time, asking, "Okay? You still on board? How many atoms in a mole? Right! Don't fall off!" I pretty much stayed on, at least through the second semester of organic, in college. (Isn't that enough?) I was never particularly into Japan or Japanese stuff in high school or most of college. If I had been, though? I probably would have papered my dorm room with the pages of this book.

I wrote more about Elements on Japan Pulse, where I am now editing more than writing.

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