Listing only books without cover scans...

Back to Books

Full title A Mathematician's Apology [permalink]
Language English
Author G. H. Hardy (author)
Categories Mathematics and science
Publication year 1940
Online version Link
Pages 52
Full title About a Boy [permalink]
Language English
Author Nick Hornby (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 1998
Pages 286
Full title The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence [permalink]
Language English
Author Ray Kurzweil (author)
Categories Computing and science
Publication year 1999
Pages 257
Synopsis

The first part explains the Law of Accelerating Returns, discusses the idea of an intelligence (us) creating a greater intelligence (computers), and how a machine would deal with ambiguities of language (there are at least four ways of interpreting the sentence "time flies like an arrow", laid out in the book). The second part deals with preparing the present, and discusses different ways of building brains (and uploading already-built brains to another substrate). The third part is a journey through the twenty-first century, with stops for snapshots at 2009, 2019, 2029, and 2099. At the end of each chapter is an imaginary talk with an imaginary reader, Molly, which helps explain things.

Full title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland [permalink]
Language English
Author Lewis Carroll (author)
Categories Humor and novel
Publication year 1865
Online version Link
Pages 108
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • I Down the Rabbit-Hole
  • II The Pool of Tears
  • III A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
  • IV The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
  • V Advice from a Caterpillar
  • VI Pig and Pepper
  • VII A Mad Tea-Party
  • VIII The Queen's Croquet-Ground
  • IX The Mock Turtle's Story
  • X The Lobster-Quadrille
  • XI Who Stole the Tarts?
  • XII Alice's Evidence
Full title The Alternate Asimovs [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1986
Pages 320
Synopsis

Contains Grow Old Along with Me (which became Pebble in the Sky), The End of Eternity (which became a novel with the same name), and two versions of Belief (the unpublished and the published versions).

Grow Old Along with Me takes place in the Galactic Era (when humans have colonized millions of worlds) and deals with an Earth plot to take revenge at the rest of the Galaxy for its poor treatment of the Earth, and to establish the Earth as the ruling world. (As a side-note, no one in the Galaxy really knows if humanity originated on a single planet, or if they originated on several worlds more or less simultaneously and, when each planet became space-faring, met and interbred to form the humanity that is the Galactic Empire. Most adhere to the latter, which they call the Merger Theory. The former is called the Radiation Theory and is believed by a small sect on Earth calling themselves the Ancients.)

The End of Eternity is a time travel short story about the so-called Eternals who live in Eternity and alter the realities of different centuries by making quantum changes.

Belief is a story about Roger Toomey who one morning discovers that he can levitate, and centers around his attempts at getting his fellow physicists to believe him. The two versions (the unpublished and the published) differ only in the endings. My favorite of these is by far the published version of Belief (Asimov preferred the unpublished one), because it tells a beautiful story in a beautiful way. My least favorite is The End of Eternity, because time travel is full of paradoxes (and I really dislike paradoxes).

Full title American Poetry: An Introductory Anthology [permalink]
Language English
Author Donald Hall (author)
Publisher Faber and Faber
Categories Anthology and poetry
Publication year 1991
Original publication year 1969
Pages 192
Synopsis

As the title says, this is an introductory anthology to American poetry. The introduction devotes around three pages to a synopsis of a selection of the authors' lives, and the book itself has a handful of poems from each author.

Review

This book is pretty dated, but I still enjoyed the selection.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Anne Bradstreet
  • Edward Taylor
  • Philip Freneau
  • William Cullen Bryant
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • John Greenleaf Whittier
  • Jones Very
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Herman Melville
  • Walt Whitman
  • Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Sidney Lanier
  • Duncan Campbell Scott
  • Edgar Lee Masters
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Trumbull Stickney
  • Robert Frost
  • Vachel Lindsay
  • Wallace Stevens
  • William Carlos Williams
  • E. J. Pratt
  • Ezra Pound
  • H. D.
  • Robinson Jeffers
  • Marianne Moore
  • John Crowe Ransom
  • Archibald MacLeish
  • Phelps Putnam
  • E. E. Cummings
  • F. R. Scott
  • Hart Crane
  • Allen Tate
  • Earle Birney
  • Richard Eberhart
  • Theodore Roethke
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • John Berryman
  • Irving Layton
  • Robert Lowell
  • Richard Wilbur
  • Index of Titles and First Lines
Full title Angels and Demons [permalink]
Language English
Author Dan Brown (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 2000
Pages 480
Synopsis

The Illuminati steals a quarter gram of antimatter from CERN, places it somewhere inside the Vatican, and kidnaps four cardinals from under the Vatican's nose. Robert Langdon, a symbologist from America, is flown in to investigate.

Full title Apocalypsopolis [permalink]
Language English
Author Ran Prieur (author)
Categories Apocalyptic and science fiction
Publication year 2004
Online version Link
Synopsis

An asteroid of respectable size plunges into the Pacific, starting the apocalypse. The novel follows a group of people through it.

Review

Overall the story is very gripping, but at times I felt there were too many characters to make each of them stand out, which made it harder to sympathize with them. The writing is good and the pacing is OK; I definitely recommend it.

Full title Around the World in Eighty Days [permalink]
Original title Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours
Language English
Author Jules Verne (author)
Categories Adventure and novel
Publication year 1873
Online version Link
Pages 256
Synopsis

Phileas Fogg, a London gentleman of the Reform Club (which is actually a real club), and his French valet, Passepartout, make a £20 000 bet with the other gentlemen of the Reform Club that circumnavigation of the Earth is possible in fewer than eighty days.

Review

One would suspect that the novel would be boring nowadays, when circumnavigation can be done in far fewer than eighty days, but this is not the case. It's not so much the feat itself as the sense of adventure that makes the novel really good (and there is plenty of adventure to go around).

Full title The Best Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1986
Pages 249
Synopsis

Perhaps The best non-robot non-Foundation science fiction of Isaac Asimov would be a more fitting, if longer, title for the book. This is an anthology of stories chosen by Asimov himself, with commentary preceding each story.

Full title Book of Nonsense [permalink]
Language English
Author Edward Lear (author)
Categories Nonsense and poetry
Publication year 1846
Synopsis

A short book of nonsene limericks.

Full title Brain Droppings [permalink]
Language English
Author George Carlin (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 1998
Full title The Complete Robot [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1982
Pages 680
Synopsis

This is a collection of robot stories that he wrote between 1940 and 1976. They're not grouped chronologically, but by theme (and this works really well). The stories, of course, revolve around robots; non-humanoid, immobile, metallic, and humanoid (there's even an android in the last story, but I've already spoiled too much).

Review

Some of these stories are amazing, and you should go pick up this anthology now. My favorites are A Boy's Best Friend, Victory Unintentional, Segregationist, Evidence, Feminine Intuition, and The Bicentennial Man.

Full title Counting the Eons [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, astronomy and science
Publication year 1983
Pages 254
Full title The Da Vinci Code [permalink]
Language English
Author Dan Brown (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 2003
Pages 583
Full title The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Categories Astronomy, philosophy and science
Publication year 1996
Pages 416
Synopsis

The Demon-Haunted World deals with human imagination, science, and scepticism, in a nutshell. In reality it's so much more: It's a defense of scepticism, an advertisement for science, a crash course in wonder, and an explanation of science and what it's all about. My favorite chapters, I think, are The Dragon in My Garage and The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.

Full title Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology [permalink]
Language English
Author Eric K. Drexler (author)
Categories Nanotechnology and science
Publication year 1986
Online version Link
Pages 320
Review

This 1986 Drexler book is a seminal work on molecular nanotechnology. It's very well-written and very well-paced, and charts some of the possibilities and dangers with upcoming technologies such as nano-sized robots and true artificial intelligence. Despite being extremely future-optimistic (which it has every right to be, of course), it's also extremely rational; it gives examples of disagreements and somewhat tries to refute these.

The book describes how tiny robots might build a light-weight and sturdy rocket engine in a vat, how a person might be frozen and then thawed several years later (cryonics), and how tiny robots might act as a tight-fitting and light spacesuit. These are very excellent descriptions, and it's very hard not to imagine these things with awe.

The book is very quotable, too. Check out this one, for instance, which criticizes Jeremy Rifkin's Entropy: A New World View, a controversial book about entropy and how it relates to human activities:

"The entropy threat is an example of blatant nonsense, yet its inventors and promoters aren't laughed off the public stage. Imagine a thousand, a million similar distortions - some subtle, some brazen, but all warping the public's understanding of the world. Now imagine a group of democratic nations suffering from an infestation of such memes while attempting to cope with an era of accelerating technological revolution. We have a real problem."

Or how about this one (describing a limit of molecular technology):

"Trying to change a nucleus by poking at it with a molecule is even more futile than trying to flatten a steel ball bearing by waving a ball of cotton candy at it. Molecular technology can sort and rearrange atoms, but it cannot reach into a nucleus to change an atom's type."

Go read this book now.

Full title The Epic of Gilgamesh [permalink]
Language English
Author Anonymous (author)
Categories Classic and epic
Publication year -700
Pages 128
Synopsis

Being one of the few surviving early epic poems in the world (dating to the third millennium BCE), Gilgamesh tells the story of Gilgamesh, a god-king of Uruk who the gods see as arrogant. They create Enkidu, a wild beast that eventually befriends Gilgamesh. They travel together to the cedar forest and battle Humbaba, a fiendish guardian. They successfully defeat him, but eventually Enkidu dies, and Gilgamesh becomes painfully aware of his own mortality. Not liking that, he sets out on a journey to find ever-lasting life.

Review

The paperback edition that I read is only 62 pages, so it's a very light read. The story is engaging, but not really engagingly written (doubtless because of its age and the act of translation). Nevertheless, I recommend it if only for its prominent status. (Note: There are several free online translations. I originally read it online, but I can't find the version I read, so you could Google it if you want. However, my guess is that a translation from a proper book is best.)

Full title Fantastic Voyage II: Destination Brain [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1987
Pages 385
Synopsis

Not a sequel to Fantastic Voyage, this novel revolves around neurophysiologist Albert Jonas Morrison and his crew's journey into the brain of a scientist by way of miniaturization. Morrison has some fringe theories on how the mind works and how it is theoretically possible to amplify brain waves and, in effect, sense thoughts. For this reason, his fellow scientists don't respect him very much, and for this reason, he is hired (read the book and you'll understand) by a team of Russian scientists who want Morrison and his computer to join them in a mission inside a man's brain to sense his thoughts.

Review

The story, in essence, is the same as that of Fantastic Voyage, except that FV is a straight novelization of the movie script (the novel appeared before the movie, interestingly) while FVII is the same story as Asimov would have told it. I prefer the latter because the conundrums of miniaturization are discussed in much greater detail as Morrison is extremely sceptical about it at first.

Full title Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [permalink]
Language English
Author Edwin A. Abbott (author)
Categories Classic, mathematics, novel and science fiction
Publication year 1884
Online version Link
Pages 68
Synopsis

Flatland chronicles the adventure of A. Square, a being in Flatland. Flatland consists of only two dimensions, as opposed to Pointland, which consists of zero dimensions, Lineland, which consists of one dimension, and Spaceland (the one we inhabit), which consists of three dimensions. It describes at length the society in Flatland, and how they go about tasks that we Spacelanders find trivial. For instance, everyone is a Polygon. The more equal all its angles and the more sides it has, the higher its social rank. Lowest are women (or the Frailer Sex, as they are often called) who are mere Lines and have no chance of rising in rank. Then come the Triangles, which are men. Then Squares (of which the narrator, A. Square, is naturally a member), Pentagons, Hexagons, Heptagons, Octagons, etc. The more sides a Polygon has, the closer it gets to being a Circle. They're the top leaders of every aspect of Flatland's society.

Review

Flatland is a classic, and even though it's written in the 1880s in Victorian English, it's still eminently readable (and funny). You might have to read a little carefully at first to get used to the age of the language, but once you've picked it up you'll have no trouble enjoying this excellent story.

Full title Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything [permalink]
Language English
Authors Stephen J. Dubner (author) and Steven D. Levitt (author)
Categories Science and statistics
Publication year 2005
Pages 336
Synopsis

This is a book about applying statistics to unconventional problems and seeing where that leads you. For instance, the book argues that Roe v. Wade was a more contributing factor to the recent drop in crime rates in the US than any other. The explanation? The people who are most inclined to become criminals (children of poor single-parent blacks) simply aren't there when, had they been born, they would have begun their criminal careers.

Full title Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity [permalink]
Language English
Author Lawrence Lessig (author)
Category Law
Publication year 2004
Online version Link
Pages 368
Synopsis

This is a book about copyright — what it meant originally, what it means now, what it regulated originally, what it regulates now — and about how new technology should force us to rewrite old laws so that common sense prevails.

Review

In my opinion, a must-read for anyone interested in freedom, culture, and copyright. Parts of the book are unfortunately very dull and not very well-structured (and also written in Lawyerese), but the subject matter is more important (besides, the parts that aren't dull are exceedingly good).

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • PREFACE
  • INTRODUCTION
  • "PIRACY"
    • CHAPTER ONE: Creators
    • CHAPTER TWO: "Mere Copyists"
    • CHAPTER THREE: Catalogs
    • CHAPTER FOUR: "Pirates"
      • Film
      • Recorded Music
      • Radio
      • Cable TV
    • CHAPTER FIVE: "Piracy"
      • Piracy I
      • Piracy II
  • "PROPERTY"
    • CHAPTER SIX: Founders
    • CHAPTER SEVEN: Recorders
    • CHAPTER EIGHT: Transformers
    • CHAPTER NINE: Collectors
    • CHAPTER TEN: "Property"
      • Why Hollywood Is Right
      • Beginnings
      • Law: Duration
      • Law: Scope
      • Law and Architecture: Reach
      • Architecture and Law: Force
      • Market: Concentration
      • Together
  • PUZZLES
    • CHAPTER ELEVEN: Chimera
    • CHAPTER TWELVE: Harms
      • Constraining Creators
      • Constraining Innovators
      • Corrupting Citizens
  • BALANCES
    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Eldred
    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Eldred II
  • CONCLUSION
  • AFTERWORD
    • Us, Now
      • Rebuilding Freedoms Previously Presumed: Examples
      • Rebuilding Free Culture: One Idea
    • Them, Soon
      • 1. More Formalities
        • Registration and Renewal
        • Marking
      • 2. Shorter Terms
      • 3. Free Use Vs. Fair Use
      • 4. Liberate the Music—Again
      • 5. Fire Lots of Lawyers
  • NOTES
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  • INDEX
Full title Free Will [permalink]
Language English
Author Sam Harris (author)
Category Philosophy
Publication year 2012
Pages 96
Synopsis

Using psychology, results from neuroscience, and clever reasoning, Sam Harris shows how free will is an illusion.

Full title Fremtiden [permalink]
Translated title The Future
Language Norwegian
Author Eirik Newth (author)
Category Science
Publication year 1999
Pages 254
Synopsis

This is a book about the immediate human future; its perils, its hopes, its possible solutions, its possible unfoldings.

Review

Like Asimov's Counting the Eons, this is an excellent book about the future of the world, but unlike Counting the Eons, the meat of Fremtiden limits itself to only a few millennia into the future; the beginning and ultimate fate of the Universe are discussed, but with far less detail than Counting the Eons and with far more emphasis put on the future of the human species and how it can survive (or become extinct). Especially eerie, I think, is the chapter discussing space lifts to geostationary space stations 36 000 kilometers above the Earth's surface. Reading about that gave me the same fuzzy feelings as seeing the space walk between the spaceships Alexei Leonov and the Discovery over Jupiter in 2010: The Year We Made Contact did. I mean, just imagine that! The book unfortunately contains a lot of typos, but I actually forgive him for that; the book is too interesting to dismiss on that ground.

Full title Fyrsten [permalink]
Original title Il Principe
Translated title The Prince
Language Norwegian
Authors Niccolò Machiavelli (author) and Trond Berg Eriksen (translator)
Publisher Kagge Forlag
Categories Classic and warfare
Publication year 2007
Original publication year 1532
ISBN 978-82-489-0659-9 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Online version Link
Pages 150
Synopsis

The Prince is the book which made the term "Machiavellian" enter language as meaning someone willing to ignore morality in favor of keeping power. The book is divided into many chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of keeping a prince in power.

Review

As I'm not a prince nor a real student of history, it didn't really speak to me, but it was an interesting read if only for the historical perspective.

Full title Gold: The Final Science Fiction Collection [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Anthology, science fiction and short stories
Publication year 1990
Pages 416
Synopsis

The first part is an anthology of short stories, while the two last parts are non-fiction dealing with concepts in science fiction and on writing science fiction, respectively.

Full title The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha [permalink]
Original title El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha
Language English
Authors Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (author) and John Ormsby (translator)
Publisher [e-book: Project Gutenberg]
Categories Novel, parody and satire
Publication year 2004
Original publication year 1605
Synopsis

Part 1

Alonso Quixano is a hidalgo (noble-born gentleman) from La Mancha who spends his time devouring popular romance novels (romance novels back then meant books of chivalry, unlike today). The novel opens with his becoming so obsessed with them that he starts deluding himself into thinking he's a knight-errant, a vagrant knight in shining armor slaying dragons, rescuing princesses, righting wrongs, helping the helpless, and, of course, fighting giants disguised as windmills.

Despite his being well-spoken, and in every sense rational, about this one point of being an old-fashioned knight he is stark raving mad; Don Quixote manages to rationalize (explain away) all his delusions, most of the time relying on a malevolent sage intent on enchanting everything from windmills (giants) to inns (castles) to a barber's water basin (the Helmet of Mambrino).

Very quickly (and later in the novel, often) Don Quixote gets into trouble. He is round and about seeking adventure when he comes upon some traders who are making fun of his beloved Dulcinea del Toboso. Not taking that lightly he engages them in combat, and is soundly beaten. A humble farmer from Quixote's home town, Sancho Panza, takes care of him and after being promised an island to rule over once they are done adventuring, Panza joins Quixote as his trusted squire, always being the sense to Quixote's nonsense.

This is an exceedingly funny novel. There are some scattered bits of seriousness here and there (even a novella quoted — or rather told by one of the characters — mostly in its entirety, taking up three chapters) but whenever Don Quixote re-enters the scene, expect hilarity to ensue.

Part 2

Coming...

Review

Part 1

Coming...

Part 2

Coming...

Full title Kunstformen der Natur [permalink]
Translated title Art Forms of Nature
Language English
Author Ernst Haeckel (author)
Categories Biology and science
Publication year 1904
Online version Link
Synopsis

A beautifully illustrated book about the various life forms found on our planet.

Review

I wish I could read the original German, but I can't claim to have read the book. Maybe I'll someday find a good translation, but in the mean time, if you too don't read German, enjoy the wondrous images! See Kurt Stüber's wonderful 300 DPI scans, which are simply amazing.

Full title Life, the Universe and Everything [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor and science fiction
Publication year 1982
Pages 160
Full title The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed [permalink]
Language English
Author Bart D. Ehrman (author)
Categories History and religion
Publication year 2006
ISBN 978-0195343519 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Full title Lying [permalink]
Language English
Authors Annaka Harris (editor) and Sam Harris (author)
Categories Essay, philosophy and psychology
Publication year 2011
Original publication year 2011
Pages 66
Synopsis

Lying is a very short book about the implications and morality of lying. In short, Harris argues (successfully, in my opinion) that one should never lie, even about the smallest things, if what you're trying to do is build good relationships with people. He even goes into border cases, such as a wife asking her husband if she looks good in a dress (one can answer the sub-text of a question, not necessarily the literal meaning of it) and someone hiding a Jew when a Nazi comes a-knockin' on the door (in that case, you're not really trying to build a lasting relationship with the person).

Review

Sam Harris is a really talented writer, and reading his material is never boring. This book is no exception, and the fact that it's as short as it is, is a point in its favor. It's the perfect length when all you're doing is making an argument, not laying out in detail a theory. (I wish more writers would be similarly inspired to brevity.)

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • What Is a Lie?
  • The Mirror of Honesty
  • Two Types of Lies
  • White Lies
  • Trust
  • Faint Praise
  • Secrets
  • Lies in Extremis
  • Mental Accounting
  • Integrity
  • Big Lies
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
Full title The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect [permalink]
Language English
Author Roger Williams (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 1994
Online version Link
Pages 175
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Chapter 1: Caroline at Play
  • Chapter 2: Lawrence Builds a Computer
  • Chapter 3: Caroline and Anne-Marie
  • Chapter 4: After the Night of Miracles
  • Chapter 5: Caroline Approaches
  • Chapter 6: After the Change
  • Chapter 7: Caroline and Lawrence
  • Chapter 8: After the Fall
Full title Naiv. Super. [permalink]
Language Norwegian
Author Erlend Loe (author)
Category Novel
Publication year 1996
Pages 243
Synopsis

This book tells the story of a man in his mid-twenties who suddenly feels that nothing in his life matters and describes the things he does to combat this feeling.

Full title Napalm and Silly Putty [permalink]
Language English
Author George Carlin (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 2001
Full title The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Dawkins (author)
Publisher Oxford University Press
Categories Anthology and science
Publication year 2008
Pages 395
Synopsis

This is an anthology book of post-1900 science writings (essays, anecdotes, poetry) written by working scientists, as opposed to written by non-scientists, and it is supremely excellent. Richard Dawkins has collected them, sorted them, and written introductions to each of them, which put them in context.

Review

I liked this book so much that I transcribed a few of these and put them on my Essays page ("On Being the Right Size", "One Self", an extract from Man in the Universe, "Seven Wonders", and an extract from The Periodic Table); you could read those if you want a short taste of what the book is about. I strongly recommend this book.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Featured Writers and Extracts
  • Introduction

PART I
What Scientists Study

  • James Jeans from The Mysterious Universe
  • Martin Rees from Just Six Numbers
  • Peter Atkins from Creation Revisited
  • Helena Cronin from The Ant and the Peacock
  • R. A. Fisher from The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection
  • Theodosius Dobzhansky from Mankind Evolving
  • G. C. Williams from Adaptation and Natural Selection
  • Francis Crick from Life Itself
  • Matt Ridley from Genome
  • Sydney Brenner Theoretical Biology in the Third Millennium
  • Steve Jones from The Language of the Genes
  • J. B. S. Haldane from On Being the Right Size
  • Mark Ridley from The Explanation of Organic Diversity
  • John Maynard Smith The Importance of the Nervous System in the Evolution of Animal Flight
  • Fred Hoyle from Man in the Universe
  • D'Arcy Thompson from On Growth and Form
  • G. G. Simpson from The Meaning of Evolution
  • Richard Fortey from Trilobite!
  • Colin Blakemore from The Mind Machine
  • Richard Gregory from Mirrors In Mind
  • Nicholas Humphrey One Self: A Meditation on the Unity of Consciousness
  • Steven Pinker from The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
  • Jared Diamond from The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee
  • David Lack from The Life of the Robin
  • Niko Tinbergen from Curious Naturalists
  • Robert Trivers from Social Evolution
  • Alister Hardy from The Open Sea
  • Rachel Carson from The Sea Around Us
  • Loren Eiseley from How Flowers Changed the World
  • Edward O. Wilson from The Diversity of Life

PART II
Who Scientists Are

  • Arthur Eddington from The Expanding Universe
  • C. P. Snow from the Foreword to G. H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology
  • Freeman Dyson from Disturbing the Universe
  • J. Robert Oppenheimer from War and the Nations
  • Max F. Perutz A Passion for Crystals
  • Barbara and George Gamow Said Ryle to Hoyle
  • J. B. S. Haldane Cancer's a Funny Thing
  • Jacob Bronowski from The Identity of Man
  • Peter Medawar from Science and Literature, Darwin's Illness, The Phenomenon of Man, the postscript to Lucky Jim, and D'Arcy Thompson and Growth and Form
  • Jonathan Kingdon from Self-Made Man
  • Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin from Origins Reconsidered
  • Donald C. Johanson and Maitland A. Edey from Lucy
  • Stephen Jay Gould Worm for a Century, and all Seasons
  • John Tyler Bonner from Life Cycles
  • Oliver Sacks from Uncle Tungsten
  • Lewis Thomas Seven Wonders
  • James Watson from Avoid Boring People
  • Francis Crick from What Mad Pursuit
  • Lewis Wolpert from The Unnatural Nature of Science
  • Julian Huxley from Essays of a Biologist
  • Albert Einstein Religion and Science
  • Carl Sagan from The Demon-Haunted World

PART III
What Scientists Think

  • Richard Feynman from The Character of Physical Law
  • Erwin Schrödinger from What is Life?
  • Daniel Dennett from Darwin's Dangerous Idea and Consciousness Explained
  • Ernst Mayr from The Growth of Biological Thought
  • Garrett Hardin from The Tragedy of the Commons
  • W. D. Hamilton from Geometry For the Selfish Herd and Narrow Roads of Geneland
  • Per Bak from How Nature Works
  • Martin Gardner The Fantastic Combinations of John Conway's New Solitaire Game 'Life'
  • Lancelot Hogben from Mathematics for the Million
  • Ian Stewart from The Miraculous Jar
  • Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver from The Mathematical Theory of Communication
  • Alan Turing from Computing Machinery and Intelligence
  • Albert Einstein from What is the Theory of Relativity?
  • George Gamow from Mr. Tompkins
  • Paul Davies from The Goldilocks Enigma
  • Russell Stannard from The Time and Space of Uncle Albert
  • Brian Greene from The Elegant Universe
  • Stephen Hawking from A Brief History of Time

PART IV
What Scientists Delight In

  • S. Chandrasekhar from Truth and Beauty
  • G. H. Hardy from A Mathematician's Apology
  • Steven Weinberg from Dreams of a Final Theory
  • Lee Smolin from The Life of the Cosmos
  • Roger Penrose from The Emperor's New Mind
  • Douglas Hofstadter from Gödel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid
  • John Archibald Wheeler with Kenneth Ford from Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam
  • David Deutsch from The Fabric of Reality
  • Primo Levi from The Periodic Table
  • Richard Fortey from Life: An Unauthorized Biography
  • George Gaylord Simpson from The Meaning of Evolution
  • Loren Eiseley from Little Men and Flying Saucers
  • Carl Sagan from Pale Blue Dot
  • Acknowledgements
  • Index
Full title Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space [permalink]
Language English
Author Carl Sagan (author)
Categories Astronomy and science
Publication year 1994
Pages 188
Synopsis

Pale Blue Dot is about the Earth, humans, our place in the Cosmos, and the Solar System and our exploration of it. The title comes from the eponymous image taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. It tries to convey a sense of how small and fragile the Earth really is (if you want to get a real sense of it, I recommend Celestia), how the Universe really isn't made for us (sulfuric acid on Venus, for instance, or the black vacuum that covers most of the Universe), and how we've traditionally viewed the Universe. A large chunk of the book goes into explaining the exploration of our solar system and the findings we've made. It also advocates that we use the other planets as warnings for what may happen to our own if we spoil it (after all, so far this is the only place we've got).

Review

This is a very engagingly-written account of the history of space flight, as well as a beautifully arranged advocacy of prudence when it comes to dealing with our planet.

Full title The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock'N'Roll [permalink]
Language English
Authors Joy Press (author) and Simon Reynolds (author)
Publisher Harvard University Press
Categories History and music
Publication year 1995
Original publication year 1994
ISBN 0-674-80272-1 [Amazon, B&N, Abe, Powell's]
Pages 410
Synopsis

Details the history of rock'n'roll from the perspective of gender and sex, and tracks musical trends from the beginning of rock'n'roll until the present.

Review

A good work with lots of wit and detail. I'm not that interested in the history of music (I just listen to it), so perhaps this book will be more interesting for someone whose interests lie in that direction.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction

part 1: rebel misogynies

  • 1 Angry Young Men: Precursors and Prototypes for Rock Rebellion
    Rebel Without A CauseLook Back In Anger•Jack Kerouac•Timothy Leary•Ken Kesey•Rolling Stones•
  • 2 She's Hit: Songs of Fear and Loathing
    •Rolling Stones•John's Children•Garage Punk•Led Zeppelin•Roxy Music•Tim Rose•Nick Cave•River's Edge
  • 3 Careers in Misogyny: The Stranglers and Malcolm McLaren
  • 4 Born to Run: Wanderlust, Wilderness and the Cult of Speed
    •The Doors•Rolling Stones•PiL•Gang of Four•Morrissey•Bob Dylan•Bruce Springsteen•Tom Petty•Iggy Pop•Lynyrd Skynyrd•Easy Rider•Neil Young•Kraftwerk•Hardcore Techno•
  • 5 Brothers in Arms: Combat Rock and Other Stories for Boys
    •The Clash•Thin Lizzy•Manic Street Preachers•Public Enemy•U2•
  • 6 Flirting With the Void: Abjection in Rock
    •The Stooges•Sex Pistols•Throbbing Gristle•Birthday Party•Scratch Acid•Grindcore•Alice in Chains•Nirvana•Henry Rollins•Devo•
  • 7 Wargasm: Metal and Machine Music
    •Futurists•Kraftwerk•Techno•Motorhead•Iggy Pop•Radio Birdman•David Bowie•Led Zeppelin•Young Gods•
  • 8 I Am the King: Delusions of Grandeur from Jim Morrison to Gangsta Rap
    •Jim Morrison•Sex Pistols•Guns N'Roses•Nick Cave•Lou Reed•Jane's Addiction•Eldridge Cleaver•LL Cool J•Miles Davis•Sly Stone•Gansta Rap•
  • 9 My Way: The Cult of the Psychopath
    •The White Negro•Jim Morrison•Charles Manson•Sid Vicious•Big Black•Slacker•Apocalypse Culture•

part 2: into the mystic

  • 1 From Rebellion to Grace: The Psychedelic Mother's Boy
  • 2 Back to Eden: Innocence, Indolence and Pastoralism
    •Mod•Marc Bolan•Incredible String Band•The Byrds•West Coast Psychedelia•Van Morrison•Pink Floyd•Dreampop•Rave•Ambient House•The Orb•Dub Reggae•Ultramarine•
  • 3 Starsailing: Cosmic Rock
    •John Cage•John Coltrane•The Byrds•Jimi Hendrix•Tim Buckley•Pink Floyd•
  • 4 Flow Motion: Can, Eno and Oceanic Rock
    •Can•Brian Eno•Robert Wyatt•Miles Davis•A.R. Kane•
  • 5 Soft Boys: Nostalgia, Incest and Zen Apathy
    •Jimi Hendrix•Morrissey•John Lennon•Elvis•My Bloody Valentine•

part 3: lift up your skirt and speak

  • 1 Double Allegiances: The Herstory of Rock
  • 2 One of the Boys: Female Machisma
    •Patti Smith•Chrissie Hynde•Kate Bush•PJ Harvey•Suzi Quatro•Joan Jett•Heart•Kim Gordon•L7•
  • 3 Open Your Heart: Confession and Catharsis from Janis Joplin to Courtney Love
    •Sinead O'Connor•Suzanne Vega•Joni Mitchell•Liz Phair•Lydia Lunch•Babes in Toyland•Tori Amos•Janis Joplin•Bessie Smith•
  • 4 Woman Unbound: Hysterics, Witches and Mystics
    •Lydia Lunch•Diamanda Galas•Stevie Nicks•Kate Bush•Siouxsie•Sandy Denny•Cocteau Twins•
  • 5 Who's That Girl?: Masquerade and Mastery
    •X-Ray Spex•Siouxsie•Grace Jones•Donna Summer•Annie Lennox•Joan Armatrading•Janet Jackson•Queen Latifah•Salt-n-Pepa•Grace Slick•Nico•
  • 6 Un-typical Girls: Post-Punk Demystification
    •The Slits•The Raincoats•The Au Pairs•Delta 5•Bush Tetras•
  • 7 What a Drag: Post-feminism and Pop
    •Altered Images•Madonna•Paris Is Burning
  • 8 There's a Riot Going On: Grrrls Against Boy-Rock
    •Riot Grrrl•Bikini Kill•Huggy Bear•
  • 9 Body's In Trouble
    •Mary Margaret O'Hara•Suzanne Vega•Hugo Largo•PJ Harvey•Throwing Muses•Babes In Toyland•Siouxsie•Hole•Lunachicks•
  • 10 Adventures Close to Home: Domesticity's Tender Trap
    •Kate Bush•Lunachicks•Throwing Muses•Siouxsie•Marianne Faithfull•The Slits•
  • 11 All Fluxed Up: Rebels Against Structure
    •Patti Smith•Joni Mitchell•Rickie Lee Jones•The Raincoats•Throwing Muses•Mary Margaret O'Hara•Dead Can Dance•Bjork•Diamanda Galas•Yoko Ono•
  • Afterword
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Full title Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character [permalink]
Language English
Author Richard Feynman (author)
Category Autobiography
Publication year 1985
Pages 205
Synopsis

The book is a fascinating look into the mind of one of the 20th century's top physicist, the eccentric free spirit Richard Feynman. It's a mostly chronological account of the interesting moments of his life, from his childhood when he fixed radios, to his mischief at MIT, to Princeton, to Los Alamos (where he worked on the bomb and cracked safes for fun), to Cornell, to Brazil, to Japan. The stories are engagingly told as anecdotes, which is partly why it's such an interesting read (and partly because the stories are inherently interesting).

Review

I think I can honestly say that this book is excellent all the way through. At no point was I bored. In fact, I grinned to myself at least three times and almost cried once (honest).

Full title Utopia: Concerning the Best Condition of the Commonwealth and the New Island of Utopia — A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial than Entertaining [permalink]
Original title Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia
Language English
Authors Thomas More (author) and Stephen Duncombe (introduction)
Publisher [self-published]
Categories Novel and science fiction
Publication year 2010
Original publication year 1516
Online version Link
Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Discourses of Raphael Hythloday, of the Best State of a Commonwealth
  • Chapter 2: Of Their Towns, Particularly of Amaurot
  • Chapter 3: Of Their Magistrates
  • Chapter 4: Of Their Trades, and Manner of Life
  • Chapter 5: Of Their Traffic
  • Chapter 6: Of the Travelling of the Utopians
  • Chapter 7: Of Their Slaves, and of Their Marriages
  • Chapter 8: Of Their Military Discipline
  • Chapter 9: Of the Religions of the Utopians
Full title The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature — Being the Gifford Lectures on Natural Religion Delivered at Edinburgh in 1901–1902 [permalink]
Language English
Author William James (author)
Categories Philosophy, psychology and religion
Publication year 1902
Online version Link
Synopsis

This is the manuscript version of a series of lectures that the Harvard psychologist and philosopher William James gave in Edinburgh between 1901 and 1902 (the so-called Gifford series of lectures given annually at a number of Scottish universities). It explores, as the title implies, varieties of religious experience, from different parts of the world in different times and by different means (although, perhaps only to modern readers, the absence of a full discussion on animistic or primitive or tribal religion is conspicuous). These lectures contain a plethora of case studies, excerpts, and poignant vignettes on whatever the subject happens to be, which really helps give the expositions more context.

Review

I think I will have to re-read this book eventually, as I don't feel I can give a proper review not having really understood it completely.

Structure [Toggle visibility]
  • LECTURE I: Religion and Neurology
  • LECTURE II: Circumscription of the Topic
  • LECTURE III: The Reality of the Unseen
  • LECTURES IV AND V: The Religion of Healthy-mindedness
  • LECTURES VI AND VII: The Sick Soul
  • LECTURE VIII: The Divided Self, and the Process of its Unification
  • LECTURE IX: Conversion
  • LECTURE X: Conversion—concluded
  • LECTURES XI, XII, AND XIII: Saintliness
  • LECTURES XIV AND XV: The Value of Saintliness
  • LECTURES XVI AND XVII: Mysticism
  • LECTURE XVIII: Philosophy
  • LECTURE XIX: Other Characteristics
  • LECTURE XX: Conclusions
  • Postscript
Full title The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Living Dead [permalink]
Language English
Author Max Brooks (author)
Category Humor
Publication year 2003
Pages 288
Synopsis

How to survive the zombie onslaught, written in a modern Art of War-esque style. Although a work of fiction, it's written as non-fiction which makes it all the more eerie. So if zombies do exist and they do attack, you should be ready for them.

Full title Prelude to Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (1/7)
Publication year 1988
Pages 528
Full title Forward the Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (2/7)
Publication year 1993
Pages 464
Full title Foundation [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (3/7)
Publication year 1951
Pages 255
Full title Foundation and Empire [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Foundation (4/7)
Publication year 1952
Pages 247
Full title Halo: The Flood [permalink]
Language English
Author William C. Dietz (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Halo (2/7)
Publication year 2003
Pages 352
Synopsis

A spaceship, The Pillar of Autumn, takes a wrong turn in hyperspace (called Slipstream Space in the Haloverse) and ends up having to crash-land on a ringworld nearby. John-117 (a super soldier popularly called Master Chief, in a battle armor) is tasked with the safe-keeping of the ship's enigmatic AI, Cortana, and the novel chronicles his attempts at rendezvousing with The Pillar of Autumn after having used an escape pod to disembark from it.

Review

The book is a straight novelization of the game, and it suffers a bit from that fact (if you've played the game then you know that a good deal of the game is repetitive shooting). A good chunk of the book is devoted to viewing the action from other perspectives, which is good. In the end, though, it's a mediocre book. I can't recommend it if you're not a Halo fan.

Full title The Naked Sun [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (2/4)
Publication year 1957
Pages 288
Full title Robots and Empire [permalink]
Language English
Author Isaac Asimov (author)
Categories Novel and science fiction
Series Robot (4/4)
Publication year 1985
Pages 383
Full title The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor, novel and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1979
Pages 224
Full title The Restaurant at the End of the Universe [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1980
Pages 208
Full title So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish [permalink]
Language English
Author Douglas Adams (author)
Categories Humor, novel and science fiction
Series The Hitchhiker's Guide
Publication year 1984
Pages 224

Back to Books