Are you one of those people who sneaks surreptitious looks over other people's bookshelves? I am, and I have a number of relatives who do the same, only with each other, we are quite blatant about it. Here is an online equivalent. This is a bit out of date, and a much better way to look me up is to find my profile on goodreads.com.
When relaxing, I particularly enjoy the crime fiction of P. D. James, but I read less fiction and much less science fiction than I would like to these days. I admire the novels of C. P. Snow and Charles Dickens, and I have read every Terry Pratchett book out — now there are some real story tellers!
I am a bit boring: I read history, I read science books, I read mathematics, I read books about computing and books about words. Early in 2002, I read the Lonely Planets guides on Ireland and the USA to make my visits there worthwhile, but I would rather look at a map. I can spend hours with a good map, and after visiting Cyprus in 2004, I keep going back to maps of there and other places. You will have to track me down on Facebook to see where else I have been, but I travel quite a bit.
I also like essays, including the medical essays of Lewis Thomas, the scientific essays of Sir Peter Medawar and Stephen Jay Gould. I also like the journals of travellers in the past, people who explored new parts of the world, met the people, and came back to tell what they had seen. That is going to be important in the next book.
A bit of a list
My all-time most favourite books include:
Gödel, Escher, Bach, and Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter.
The Loom of Language, Lancelot Hogben.
Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Brewer (any edition).
The Discoverers, Daniel Boorstin.
Most Secret War, R. V. Jones.
The Future Eaters, Tim Flannery.
At Swim Two Birds, Flann O'Brien.
Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond.
English Passengers, Matthew Kneale.
The Good Companions, J. B. Priestley.
Any book by Martin Gardner.
The Sherlock Holmes stories.
The science fiction of Ian Watson, Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Poul Anderson, Robert Sheckley, Arthur C. Clarke,
more to come . . .
What I have read and enjoyed recently
These are now alphabetical, by author.
Aerojet History Group Aerojet: the creative company (a gift)
Barnes, Julian Flaubert's Parrot
Bayley, Stephen A Dictionary of Idiocy: etymology, opinion, and Flaubert. Brilliant!
Blainey, Geoffrey A Short History of the World
Brooks, Geraldine March (****) -elegantly researched historical fiction
Brooks, Geraldine Year of Wonders (****) - again, elegantly researched historical fiction
Brown, Dan, Angels and Demons: well enough written, if you like that sort of thing, but scientific rubbish, like the assertion that the Earth's gravity is 30% less at 60,000 feet (the correct value is 0.3% less) and the confusion of protons and positrons (just for starters). Bad science, appalling research, so I will finish it now I have it, but it is NOTrecommended. Pull your nails out instead.
Cadbury, Deborah, The Lost King of France, an excellent read.
Cahill, Thomas, How the Irish Saved Civilization. it comes very well recommended, and I am enjoying it.
Carhart, T. E. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (****) - an excellent evocation of Paris, growing up, pianism, and many other things.
Chabon, Michael, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.
Cook, James The Voyages of Captain Cook.
Crosby, Alfred W. Throwing fire
Defoe, Daniel, A Journal of the Plague Year (1722).
Eco, Umberto, Baudolino
Eugenides, Jeffrey, Middlesex: picaresque lives!
Flanagan, Richard Gould's Book of Fish
Flannery, Tim, The Explorers.
Garfield, Simon, Mauve (****)
Garfield, Simon, The Last Journey of William Huskisson (****)
Gibson, William Count Zero
Gibson, William, Virtual Light
Goddard, Robert Dying to Tell (***) - a superior sort of thriller.
Goddard, Robert, Sea Change (****) - cloak and dagger in the 1720s.
Gurney, Alan, Compass
Harris, Joanne Coastliners
Harvey, Miles, The Island of Lost Maps, a tale of theft from libraries, recommended horror story for all librarians (it also teaches you what to look out for!).
Hendrickson, Paul, The Living and the Dead. An elegantly written history of the politics behind the Vietnam war, and Robert S. McNamara.
Hordern, Marsden, King of the Australian Coast (a lovely writer!)
Horgan, John The End of Science (to go with Stokes)
Idle, Eric, The Road to Mars.
Johanson, Donald C., and Maitland A. Edey, Lucy: the beginnings of humankind.
Keith, Arthur, A New Theory of Human Evolution.
Kuhn, Thomas, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Lane, Joan, John Hall and his Patients: about Shakespeare's physician son-in-law
Lewin, Roger, Bones of Contention.
Long, John, < I>The Dinosaur Dealers: fossil theft around the world.
Lyell, Charles, Principles of Geology (1830-1833).
Lyell, Charles, The Antiquity of Man.
Macintyre, Stuart and Anna Clark, The History Wars -- two truth-tellers in a seedy place
Martel, Yann, Life of Pi -- excellent
Miller, Hugh, The Old Red Sandstone.
Milligan, Spike, The Essential Spike Milligan: the fact that my children bought this for me says something.
Milton, Giles, Nathaniel's Nutmeg
Moore, Patrick, The Astronomy of Birr Castle
Mortimer, John Where There's a Will: excellent as always.
Murakami, Haruki A Wild Sheep Chase: I am sure it gained in Alfred Birnbaum's translation, but absolutely brilliant, however you look at it.
Pears, Iain, An Instance of the Fingerpost (*****) - again, period murder, around 1663, with scientists and scholars, all brilliantly depicted.
Pears, Iain, The dream of Scipio
Rankin, Ian A Question of Blood
Rankin, Ian, Resurrection Men- murder in my second-most favourite city.
Rankin, Robert, Web Site Story
Royle, Trevor, Crimea.
Sacks, Oliver A Leg to Stand On
Sacks, Oliver, Uncle Tungsten -- I read it twice and will do so again, soon****
Schrödinger, Erwin, What is Life? (1944).
Seth, Vikram An Equal Music: truly marvellous.
Singer, Charles A Short History of Science
Somerset, Anne, The Affair of the Poisons
Somoza, José Carlos, The Athenian Murders
Spelling, Margaret, Cholera, Fever and English Medicine, 1825 - 1865
Spielman, Andrew and Michael D'Antonio, Mosquito
Stokes, Donal E. , Pasteur's Quadrant : heavy going, but important enough .
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels.
Thomson, Peter and Robert Macklin, The Man Who Died Twice -- an amazing tale of a man who walked over much of Australia and China, and made history.
Tiley, Robert, Australian Navigators
Tubridy, Michael, Reconstruction of the Rosse Six Foot Telescope
Uglow, Jenny, The Lunar Men -- BRILLIANT!! (she was also historical consultant for the movie 'Miss Potter')
Virgil, Georgics. (How to breed bees by bashing a bullock to death and burying it -- honest!)
Wallace, Alfred Russel, The Malay Archipelago.
Watson, James D., The Double Helix.
Wells, H. G., The World Set Free (1913).
Winchester, Simon, Krakatoa
Winchester, Simon, The Map that Changed the World (*****)
Winter, Frank, Rockets into Space
Wright, Tony, Turn Right at Istanbul (I provided some of the pictures - we share a publisher!)
Zinsser, Hans, Rats, Lice and History.
I have been reading books for my coming travel, and the following which all relate to my present main project, which I have not yet identified:
Darwin, Charles, The Origin of Species, 6th edition (1872).
Keay, John, Mad About the Mekong how the French explored the Mekong (see also Osborne)
Moalem, Sharon, Survival of the Sickest - published 2007
Osborne, Milton, Mekong (updated) (see also Keay)
Petroski, Henry, Remaking the World
Bought or borrowed, to be read soon
A certain theme may sometimes be detected . . .
Vernon God Little, D B C Pierre
Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery, George Grey (1841)
T. H. Huxley's Diary of the Voyage of H M S Rattlesnake Julian Huxley (ed.)
Books I plan to buy soon
None right now, but I am VERY busy around the libraries.
Blogs I read
These all emanate from people I know and admire -- well, I would hardly list people I didn't respect, would I?
Shorelink -- I mainly use the Manly Municipal Library
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