Beside my computer table lies an unsteady stack of unread books. My reading is notionally guided by a careful list, but I often break my own rules when tempted by a pretty cover. The Silk Roads: A New History of the World is one such cover. From the preface, this lovely passage:
Progress was essential, as one of the rulers of the kingdom of Zhao in north-eastern China at one extremity of Asia more than 2,000 years ago knew all too well. “A talent for following the ways of yesterday,” declared King Wu-ling in 307 BC, “is not sufficient to improve the world of today.”
History has many merits, but an underappreciated one is the sense of companionship it creates; one is rarely alone amongst history’s pages.