Sunday, August 01, 2010

Blogging from Malaysia: Dawkins amongst the believers


It seems that having God in the book title has its own advantages. Here is a picture of Dawkins' The God Delusion placed next to not just religious books - but very preachy books. I doubt that this is deliberate 0 but it is great that it provides an alternative perspective to books such as God is my CEO and Everything about God. This picture was taken at a bookstore in Summit Shopping Center in Subang Jaya. Ahmm...also note that all of these God-related books are placed in the Music section. This is because the religion section overflowed, and there weren't many books in the Music section. In case you are wondering, no there was no Science section in this bookstore either (see my earlier lament about another bookstore in the same shopping center). May be there are advantages of overusing God metaphors in science books after all...

8 comments:

Ali said...

I am in the process of making that section fatter. lol

Salman Hameed said...

"I am in the process of making that section fatter. lol"

Of course, it seems that a lack of science section is acceptable. But then one can always fly to the Moon on the wings of prayer...

Anonymous said...

My guess is you are going to all the wrong bookshops.

You cannot go to a bookshop that sells stuff on Sharia Law and expect to find Sagan sitting in the middle. But that would in no way mean Malaysia has no Sagan anywhere. :)

Salman Hameed said...

"You cannot go to a bookshop that sells stuff on Sharia Law and expect to find Sagan sitting in the middle. But that would in no way mean Malaysia has no Sagan anywhere. :)"

Oh - absolutely I'm quite aware of that - and I'm pretty sure that I will find other bookstores with large science sections in it. But these two bookstores were not religious bookstores nor were they selling stuff on Sharia Law. They were just normal bookstores but perhaps not very good. But this is not the last word: My quest for good bookstores continues - and I will try out bookstores in Suria KLCC soon...

Kevin said...

Hi Salman,

I've been following your blog for quite awhile now, and it's been really great to read on the issues of science and religion from a different perspective - you being a Muslim living in a predominantly 'Christian' country. I, however, am a Christian from a predominantly Muslim country -Malaysia! And that's why I couldn't help but to introduce myself at this point.

Yes, Malaysian bookstores do suffer from a lack of science books - but there are a few good ones where I used to go to get my dose of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins... even John Polkinghorne and Arthur Peacocke etc. Kinokuniya at Suria KLCC is probably the best place to look for science books. Borders outlets in Malaysia have a good selection as well. When there's a book I can't find, I just go to Amazon. :)

Anyway, thanks to some of these popular science books which I managed to get my hands on while growing up in Malaysia, I am now doing my PhD in Astrophysics in Australia!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in Malaysia!

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks for writing Kevin. See - I had to travel to Malaysia in order to get Malaysian readers get involved with the blog :)

"Kinokuniya at Suria KLCC is probably the best place to look for science books. Borders outlets in Malaysia have a good selection as well. When there's a book I can't find, I just go to Amazon"

Oh totally. I had no doubts that KL has good bookstores (its a big city!). My comment was just a quick observation - from walking in couple of bookstores (non-religious and non-New Age-y) in the Subang Jaya area. Unlike bookstores like Borders, these can possibly provide a bit more flavor of the kind of books that are in demand in those areas. There were indeed lot of technology related books - but not general science. But more interestingly (at least for me), they had made sections for many topics including Law, Business, Religion, Fiction, Non-fiction (nope - science books were not in this section), Self-help, etc., but did not think of making a separate section for science.

Good luck with your astrophysics PhD. Do you know the area of your research? Stellar, Extragalactic, Cosmology?

Kubra said...

I actually realised after your posts that in Turkey we often do not have "Science" sections in normal-scale bookshops either... even if there is one it is generally very small and contains popular science books, encyclopaedic material, and surprise surprise pseudo-scientific-new-age-like-crap etc... and most bookshops also put books that criticise religion in religion section or right at the edge of that section... Well, considering almost evangelical way Dawkins' promotes "Bright"ness, no matter what their rationale was, it was a right decision to put him among other preachers :)

Kevin said...

Hi Salman,

Yea, another hidden fan reveals himself! Haha

It's true that science books are hard to find in a typical bookstore that's not part of an international chain. I guess the owners do have to think about what's best for their business, and unfortunately, science books aren't really that popular in Malaysia. There's still a lot that needs to be done to promote science in the country.

Thanks for the wishes. I'm working in radio astronomy - looking at scintillation in active galatic nuclei and the intergalactic medium - so yea, mainly extragalactic.