Too much fiction, mate. That’s what I thought to myself as I realised the first five books I finished this year were all primarily about the entertainment rather than the learning. Winter is my time of reflection and self-improvement so Project High Value Man must continue.
Having long since gotten tired of David DeAngelo videos and Muay Thai fights on Thai television, I’ve been looking into new ways of peacefully sending myself to sleep at night. My latest wheeze is to listen to audio books of titles that intrigue me but that I know, deep down, I’ll never find the time nor inclination to read. I started with a Warhammer 40k Horus Heresy audio but that just confused me and gave me nightmares about the extinction of mankind . So, I moved onto Edward Gibbons The Fall And Decline Of The Roman Empire.
This book holds a very special place in my heart, considering I’ve never even owned it, much less read it.
To me it’s the poster boy of a significant contribution to civilisation. As a work of scholarship it is massive, detailed, and draws together a wealth of sources the author mastered through a lifetime of study. As a work of history it is original and groundbreaking. As a work of literature it is immense and intimidating. It stands alone, a monument to the man.
It’s like the K’rauser Romances of 1776.
So as I tucked myself into bed under a fur blanket, reduced my wall TV backlight to zero, then let the audio book wash over me, I was transported into ancient history. Pretty soon, I realised a problem: though I’d love to get my arms around the major trends of history, this book is just too big and too detailed. I’d get lost in the weeds. I needed something higher level 
Where can a man go to find a broad-strokes sweep of human history, written by subject matter experts, and lavishly illustrated so that tiny ADHD minds such as my own don’t get bored? Well, Time Life of course. They produce beautiful coffee table books on a range of topics  for a lay reader with an inquisitive mind. Incredibly, I could get the 19-volume  hardback set for just £35 delivered, via eBay. So that’s what I did. They now form a very nice row at the bottom of my bookcase.
“Nick,” I told myself, “this is your chance to become well-educated. A chance to make up for all those wasted years chasing girls and bragging about it. A chance to undo the damage that non-stop video-gaming has done to your feeble mind.”
“It’s winter. There’s nothing else to do. Look outside – it’s snowing!” my inner voice continued. “Here’s a project for you. Read all nineteen volumes in order. They go right up to WWII and after that you’ll literally know the shape of world history. Do it! Do it now, before your ageing mind fossilises forever!”
I picked up volume one, The Age Of God Kings, and the synchronicity hit me. It’s all about Sumeria, Egypt, Crete and Indus, the oldest empires. Wasn’t I playing Assassins Creed Origins  just this past week? Isn’t the God King Donald J Trump president right now? Yes! I must read this now.
Having finished volume one this morning I can say I have every intention of moving on to volume two and beyond. Here’s just a short list of morsels I picked up through reading:
- I can now find Mesopotamia on a map.
- I appreciate the importance of rivers and how the predictability of their flooding will lead to either a stoic fearful religion (Sumer, where Tigris and Euphrates rivers flood unpredictably and dangerously) vs an optimistic worshipful religion (Egypt, where the Nile is predictable and controllable).
- The aesthetic design of pyramids comes from Ziggurats, which themselves came from the practice of building new temples as a layer on top of the ruins of an old temple.
- A sculpted figurine of Ebih-il, steward of the temple of Ishtar at Mari, looked an awful lot like Craig Cassidy.
- The anti-clockwise current of the Mediterranean protected Crete from invasion and thus allowed it to build an early civilisation.
- Now I understand what real life circumstances encouraged the myth of Theseus, the Minotaur, and the labyrinth.
- Sumerians and Egyptians loved symmetry and spectacle in their architecture whereas Minoans and Harappans were about utility.
- Egyptians did not in fact walk sideways with their hands pressed together above their heads. Nor did they say “ooohwahoh-ohwaaaah-oohhhh!”
- The Nile (and Egypt) is effectively two countries, with Upper Egypt a narrow valley country with shallow impassable cataracts, and Lower Egypt a flat marshland with deep navigable rivers 
- Mallia is now a degenerate Cretian holiday resort full of foreign slags getting their tits out. Back in 2500BC it was customary for the local slags to have their tits out constantly too, even at court.
I could go on, but I shan’t. Suffice to say, I’m feeling rather educated right now.
If you too wish to contribute a Gibbons-esque scholarly work of historiography to the emerging daygame literature, take me up on my Winter Memoir Challenge. If you’d rather just read about it, consider Daygame Infinite. You can put it in a time capsule so future civilisations realise just how much we knew.
 Though if it was only half of mankind, and I could choose which half, it would be a far more pleasant dream.
 And easier.
 Yes, I bought the Nazi ones too.
 Slightly larger than my own historiography.
 Or, Witcher 3 Egypt as it’s also known.
 I’d already figured this out from Assassins Creed Origins.