Book #99: Time Warped (2013)

timewarpedaka: Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
Author: Claudia Hammond
Language: English
Length: 352 pages
Finished reading on: 15 February 2016

I go a bit crazy in bookshops in the UK, as I’m suddenly somewhere where I can pick up anything and read it, which is unfortunately rare in this country. So this was a bit of an impulse purchase when I was browsing in a bookshop in my hometown and they had a 3-for-2 offer.

It’s a book about time and the way we perceive it, like how as we get older it seems to “slip away” or go faster and slower. I think I’m a bit worried about this kind of thing myself, as I find myself losing track of time and forgetting daily events, which I’ve always found a bit distressing, so the book resonated with me on that level. It’s also well-written and compelling in its style, making it easy to read.

Like a lot of pop-sci and polemic books, it can get a bit dogged in its pursuit of certain axioms, and it was quite repetitive – it keeps coming back to the author’s idea of the “holiday paradox”, for example, a term she invented to refer to the feeling of getting back after a holiday to feel simultaneously that it was over really quickly but that you had a lot of varied experiences, and she explores different reasons that this might happen.

Because it’s repetitive like that with the scientific, it actually can make it harder to say what the driving point of the book is, and actually, she seems to avoid making any value judgements about the passage of time, and tries to reject the idea that her book could be seen as a self-help tome, even though she throws in a chapter at the end on how to deal with that. I think what she was trying to say in general was that time perception is a bit of a mystery, and involves a lot of separate sections of the brain. I think she tried to tie it to linguistic ability, with which I was a bit unconvinced.

I did enjoy reading it, though, and it resonated with me in the chapters about time slipping away, which makes me feel anxious. It’s rare recently that I’ve had a good easy-to-read book for train journeys. I need to find something else that’s as easy!

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