Book on Time
March 12, 2012 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a non-fiction book about the history of time in human societies.

I was having a conversation with a friend about the fact that there are lots of different calendars in different societies, but it seems like everyone uses the same seconds/minutes/hours framework - although of course we could be wrong about this! While days and years are natural units of time based on the sun, it didn't seem like the smaller units were. I was wondering if anyone knows about a good book that discusses how and why we ended up with the current system of keeping time that we have, and whether other cultures have or do use other systems.
posted by cupcakemuffin to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This book discusses how different cultures perceive time.

I'm not sure if it precisely addresses what you're looking for but maybe it's a start.
posted by dfriedman at 11:09 AM on March 12, 2012

Best answer: Empires of Time by Anthony Aveni is the standard go-to. There's a fairly interesting book called Einstein's Clocks that talks about how the pressure for precise and standardized time brought about by rail travel helped spark we scientific ideas. David Landes wrote a book about the invention and popularization of clocks that is some decades old now but probably still useful.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:10 AM on March 12, 2012

Best answer: I really enjoyed Jay Griffiths' A Sideways Look at Time, which might be what you're looking for. She talks about clock time, bee time, linear time vs. daylight time -- in a very engaging, entertaining way.
posted by vickyverky at 11:19 AM on March 12, 2012

Seconding Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time.
posted by scruss at 11:40 AM on March 12, 2012

The first section of Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers (1983) covers this topic, but the book isn't solely devoted to it.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 1:00 PM on March 12, 2012

Came to mention the Discoverers as well.

And can we please put the title as the link. Thanks.
posted by mearls at 8:07 PM on March 14, 2012

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