ABOVE: James’ wife, June, checks out offerings at Oxford’s Christ Church library.
Best sellers that Readers are right on about:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). Okay, it’s long, but well worth the time spent reading it.
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr. Emotionally exhausting–that requires great writing.
Best Sellers that I couldn’t quite get into:
(Not that there’s anything wrong with that):
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Zero K by Don DeLillo
Terrorist by John Updike
Recommended in general fiction:
Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash. Appalachian “brother” who is a masterful writer.
Recommended in action/adventure:
The Cusslers, Clive and Dirk, team up to bring their in latest action-packed adventures in the sea: Havana Storm: A Dirk Pitt Adventure
Coming in under the radar: Braveship Books.
Sword of Shiva by Jeff Edwards. A retired naval officer, Edwards knows his stuff when he writes naval thrillers. Collectively, his novels have won the Admiral Nimitz Award, the Reader’s Choice Award, the Clive Cussler Grandmaster Award, the Military Writer’s Society of America Gold Medal for Navy Fiction, the American Author Medal, and the Independent Publishers Association of America Silver Medal for Military Fiction.
Recommended in non-fiction:
Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap? by Graham Allison, Director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Prof. Allison presents a compelling case of why we should be paying careful attention to China as a rising threat to US leadership in the world today.
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker. This man really knows what he’s talking about. First class speaker and writer as well as a psycholinguist (even harder for me to spell than theoretical physicist). The book is a must read for anyone who writes for a living and most others could use it, too.
The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson. A National Book Award Finalist. Few scientists can write like Wilson, a fellow southerner (although Harvard claims him) whom I have followed all of my adult life.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Guess which the brightest people do?
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. What a timely book! I wish everyone would read it.
Why Information Grows: the Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economics by Cesar Hidalgo. Not necessarily an easy read, but worth it.
Best in Science I’ve read of late:
Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George M. Church and Ed Regis. Great description of the significant revolution taking place right before our eyes today.
The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (readable and a great way to learn what theoretical physicists like Hawking and Sheldon really do!) Hawking’s best book yet as he attempts to understand “the Mind of God.”
A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss. Professor Krauss is another one of those theoretical physicists, but he writes with a general audience in mind. Yeah, it’s deep, but gets at that fundamental question that we all keep asking.
Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice by Ronald M. Green. Question that society is going to have to come to grips with sooner rather than later.
The Cosmic Cocktail by Katherine Freese. Delightful writer who summarizes well what’s happening in cosmology today.
The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. Pulitzer Prize winner. Absolutely fascinating reading about evolution.
Lake Views by Steven Weinberg. Not only a physics nobel laureate (unification of electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces) but one heckuva great writer. Tough combination to beat. (Remember, Stephen Hawking did not win The Prize.)
Tycho & Kepler: The Unlikely Partnership that Forever Changed our Understanding of the Heavens by Kitty Ferguson. A terrific biography of two giants in the history of astronomy.
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel, one the best history of science writers we have today. You don’t know where you are unless you know what time it is!
Through Two Doors at Once: The Elegant Experiment That Captures the Enigma of Our Quantum Reality by Anil Ananthaswamy, one of our finest science journalists. He captures in a clear, comprehensive way the enigma that is at the foundation of science’s most successful theory, quantum mechanics. That puzzle of puzzles: the double-slit experiment. Where is the boundary between the quantum world and reality? What is reality anyway? If we are to truly appreciate the wonder and weirdness of quantum physics, we must come to grips with the conundrum that the double-slit experiment presents.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE BOOKSTORES AROUND THE USA:
Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle Emory University Bookstore, Atlanta
Eagle Eye Bookshop, Decatur, GA
Powell’s, Portland, OR Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver
The King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City