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A Gift of Wings by Richard Bach, 2001, ISBN 0-330-30421-6. Rediscovered after many many years :) . Written as only Dick Bach can write about the magic of flying :)
Downsize This! by Michael Moore, Harper Perennial, 1996. ISBN 0-06-097733-7. A call for more social justice in the big capitalist nation of US. Very well written.
your church doesn't want you to read
Tim Leedom, ISBN 0-939040-15-8. Tracks the view that the religious beliefs held by many in
the USA (and elsewhere) are totally unfounded. The Book takes a long hard look at beliefs,
evidence, stories, churches and acts of omission and commission. Sadly, I expect that
christian fundamentalist won't read it, for fear of being confused by facts.
What's next on the reading list? Malleus mallificarum? ;)
It's been a good life Isaac Asimov, Prometheus Books, 2002. ISBN 1-57392-968-9. A good autobiography.
The Iron Dream Norman Spinrad. This is a really dangerous book, forbidden in Germany. Spinrad writes a seductive story , allegedly by Adolf Hitler, and some less bright readers might not realise that they are on the wrong side! Recognisable rants from Mein Kampf add to the frightening realism.
The Chick is in the Mail Esther Friesner , Baen, 2000. ISBN 0-671-31950-7. Sometimes amusing, and in her particular genre, but not the best of the series.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents Terry Pratchett, Corgi Books, 2002. ISBN 0-552-54693-3. Pterry retells the Pied Piper from a very different point of view. Ethically challenging; not just for children!
Night Watch . Terry Pratchett, Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN 0-06-001311-7. Pterry puts Sam Vimes in a Timewarp loop to train himself. Funny as ever, with lots of puns and literary references (e.g. to Lobsang Rampa, Ian Flemings Bond, The Goons etc.) Very British humour & placenames such as "The Isle of Gods" as a pun on "Isle of Dogs".
Arctic Bush Pilot. James Anderson as told to Jim Rearden, Epicenter press, 2000. ISBN 0-945397-83-6-8. One of the Old-Guard tells how it was bush flying in the Arctic in the old days. Given to me by an ancient Arctic bush pilot , Klaus Stiegler ;)
The Quotable Scientist. Leslie Alan Horvitz, McGraw Hill, 2000. ISBN 0-07-136063-8. Collected quotations by eminent scientists. By the way, "Horvitz" is German for "Hear the Joke", an apt name thus, for the collator :)
Travelling Marshals (of the TT & MGP). David Wright, Amulree Publications, 2001. ISBN 1-901508-06-4. First Hand accounts from some of the 70 men who have carried out Travelling Marshal duties at the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy and Manx Grand Prix races. Having served as a (static) marshal myself, I can appreciate the difficult job these men do. Amusing anecdotes and lots of history. This is a book for motorcycle fans (only), but a deserving tale well told. Well done, David. Cover photo here.
Home with Alice.
Lonely Planet, 2002. ISBN 1-74059-038-4.
I just read this book by Steve Fallon,
Who drank Guinness beer by the gallon,
While learning the Gaelic,
From Paddy each day, Mick,
In Dysent, Roscommon and Teilann ;-)
Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs, Corgi, 1999. ISBN 0-552-14673-0. Terry Pratchett provides one of his DiscWorld characters, the second-best witch, Nanny Ogg, from whose point of view the book is written. The recipes are tamed down - to make them palatable to us humans - by Tina Hannan and Stephen Briggs. Excellent illustrations by Paul Kidby as usual. Delectable :-)
The Bombe. Donald W. Davies, Royal Holloway, 1999. ISBN 0-90219-491-7. Prof. Davies describes Alan Turing's 'Bombe', the machine used to help crack the Enigma in Bletchley Park during WW2.
Freud Ego. Clement Freud, BBC 2001, ISBN 0-563-53451-6. The very amusing autobiography of the well-known british raconteur.
QED. The strange theory of light and matter. Richard P. Feynman, Princeton University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-691-02417-0. QED stands for Quantum Electro-Dynamics. Nobel prizewinner Richard P. Feynman explains in a very easy read, almost NO formulae, how light and matter particles interact. He explains everyday phnomena such as reflection, refraction, diffraction etc. in terms of photon particles. And he does it in a manner that makes it easy for the layman to understand. Well worth reading, not only for physicists. See also his autobiographical anecdotes , described way below, in this list of recommended books.
Hyperspace. Michio Kaku, Anchor Books (Doubleday), 1994. ISBN 0-385-47705-8. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku has written an eminently readable book about SuperString Theory (10-dimensional space-time). It is a scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps, and the tenth dimension, which makes a difficult subject accessible to the lay person.
The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver, University of Illinois Press, 1949. ISBN 0-252-72548-4. Modern paperback reprint of Shannon's 1949 classic treatise. Most people refer to it, some quote it, few have actually read it :-( I can thoroughly recommend that you read it yourselves, now that it is available again.
Spy! Richard Deacon with Nigel West, Avon Books, 1990. ISBN 0-380-71543-0. Six stories of modern espionage. Case studies of : Richard Sorge, Bogdan Stashinsky, Cynthia (Amy Elizabeth Thorpe), the Venlo incident, Double Cross (Camp 020), and John Vassall. Informative.
The Rise of the Meritocracy (1870-2033). Michael Young, Pelican, 1961. ISBN not stated! I just re-read this after 40 years! Quite an interesting restrospective, and many of Young's predictions came about. This book won the Silver Casse prize for best satirical essay in 1965.
Mother Tongue. Bill Bryson, Avon Books, 1990. ISBN 0-380-71543-0. English and how it got that way. Diverting and richly anecdotal explanation of the development of the English language. Read it :-)
The Twilight of American Culture. Morris Berman, W.W.Norton & Company, 2000. ISBN 0-393-048798-9. Cultural degradation - american kitsch, the rise of corporate global hegemony, erosion of democracy, the moronization of the public, corruption of officials etc. - is described here in some detail. Berman suggests a 'monastic' solution to minimise the length of the Dark Ages sure to follow :-( Read this book! It might actually make you THINK about the degrading influence of McWorld !
Thief of Time. Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, 2001. ISBN 0-385-60188-3. Terry Pratchett meets Zen Bhuddism, but loses :-( Lots of puns and throw-away references as usual, but not nearly as good as "The Truth" (see below). Disappointing :-(
The Truth. Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, 2000. ISBN 0-385-60102-6. This is the 25th Discworld Novel and every bit as good as the preceeding 24! In The Truth (russian: Prawda) we see what happens when the Press (Ankh Morpork Times) tracks down devious schemers. Hilarious! :-)
Between Silk and cyanide. Leo Marks, Harper Collins, 1998. ISBN 0-00-710039-6. Autobiography 1941-1945 of the great SOE (Special Operations Executive) codemaker of WW2. If you only buy one book, make it this. Very light and humourous but at times deeply moving, I find it to be an excellent read!
The decipherment of Linear B. John Chadwick, Cambridge University Press, 1958. ISBN 0-521-39830-4. Fascinating tale of cryptanalysis and archeology. Rather dry if you like neither subject though :-)
Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman. Richard P. Feynman, ,Vintage, 1992. ISBN 0-09-917331-X. Extremely humourous autobiographical anecdotes from the famous physicist and Nobel prize winner. A very interesting read :-)
Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone. J.K.Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-7475-3269-9. Ostensibly a childrens' book, so it is written melodramatically. But still a thumping good read, as Billy Bunter would have said :-) Not quite as good as the books by Terry Pratchett though, because although Rowling is good at (overdrawn) characterisation, Pratchett is better at subtle humour !
Any and all of the books by Terry Pratchett, including Good Omens, Johnny and the Bomb, or any from the Discworld Series, my favourite therefrom (and I read them all again over the Hogswatch [=Xmas] vacation:-) being Witches Abroad.
Losing my Virginity. Richard Branson, Virgin Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-7535-0456-1. The Autobiography. Zex & drugs & rock n' roll. And ballons, intrigue and lots and lots of money of course ! The ghost-writer, Edward Whitley, has helped Branson produce a very interesting book. I liked it.
The Wrong Stuff. Cdr. John Moore, USN Retd., Speciality Press, 1997. ISBN 1-883809-10-X. Very funny autobiographical anecdotes by a fantastic test pilot. This pilot has done more jet belly-landings than you care to think about. John Moore is an ex-Tailhooker (=one who land on carriers), ex-mayor of Cocoa Beach (Florida) and an accomplished raconteur. Read this, pilots!
Spitfire: a Test Pilot's Story. Jeffrey Quill, Air Data Publications, 1996. ISBN 0-85979-093-2. Rather patriotic autobiography of a WW2 fighter and test-pilot.
New Guinea Skies. Wayne P.Rothgeb, Iowa State University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8138-0836-7. An american fighter pilot's view of World war II. Autobiography.
Out of their Minds. Dennis Shasha and Cathy Lazere, Cpoernicus, 1998. ISBN 0-387-98269-8. Superficial short biographies of 15 great computer scientists. Disappointing book.
In the Beginning was the Command Line. Neal Stephenson, Avon Books, N.Y., 1999. ISBN 0-380-81593-1. What's bad about WYSIWIG? A Critique of Windows and MacOS.
Fatal Words. Steven Cushing, University of Chicago press, 1994. ISBN 0-226-13201-3. Scientific study of communication failures in Air Traffic Control. Pilots should read this, it may save their lives!
The Hidden War. R.A.Haldane, Robert Hale Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-312-37197-7. Secret service and cryptography tales from WW2.
The Man who loved only numbers. Paul Hoffman, Bantam Books, 1983. ISBN 0-553-27386-8. Moving and funny biography of the excellent, but eccentric, mathematician Paul Erdös. My own Erdös number is currently unknown, believed to be infinite :-(
The Delta Star. Joseph Wambaugh, Hyperion Press, NY, 1998. ISBN 0-7868-8406-1. Hilariously comic crime novel, most enjoyable, good suspense. I laughed a lot ;-)
The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting NUMBERS. David Wells, Penguin Books, 1986. ISBN 0-14-026149-4. Curiouser and curiouser, as Lewis Carroll might have said. He certainly would have enjoyed this slim (231p) volume too... Enables you to bore the hell out of people at cocktail parties, e.g: 666, besides being the Number of the Beast, is also the sum of the squares of the first seven primes ;-)
Cryptonomicon. Neal Stephenson, Avon Books, 1999. ISBN 0-380-97346-4. Excellent novel about cryptography in WWII and the 1990s. The WWII anecdotes are based on reality and the 1990s algorithm works well !