Thursday 17 November 2011

Recommendations, please

Life has eased back a bit, and as a result I've started thinking ahead to Christmas and, as ever, my Christmas reading list.

I've got a growing stack of fiction (ranging from my first stab at George R. R. Martin through to Muriel Spark) but my non-fiction is looking very thin. So I thought I'd throw it open here: what should I read over summer?

To provide some guidance, here are some books I've particularly enjoyed over the past two years:

Michael Lewis's Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - how the Oakland Athletics used hard numbers to build  winning baseball team

Robert Graves's Goodbye to all that - his searing memoir of childhood and World War I

Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - the story of the woman from whom the HeLa cells were drawn

Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer - a marvellously constructed study of the first essayist.

Lisa Jardine's Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland's Glory - how ideas, politics, people, power and money flowed between England and Holland in the 17th century

Siddartha Mukkerjee's The Emperor of All Maladies - a history of cancer

Adam Gopnik's Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life - takes a coincidence (the two men were born on the same day) and turns it into a thoughtful take on two exhaustively documented lives

H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream - a heartbreaking look at Texan high school football

Nick Lane's Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution - a witty and occasionally mindblowing book, and thankfully not The Greatest Show on Earth

Richard Holmes's The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science - a vastly enjoyable study of the point before art and science began to divide.

Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands - a thing of intelligent beauty

Lauren Redniss's Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie - a thing of beautiful intelligence

Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw's Why Does E=mc^2?: And Why Should We Care? - a kindly written introduction to the theory of general relativity, which had me for absolute minutes on end feeling like I actually understood it.

So, what should I read this summer?


Richard Hulse said...

I enjoyed this book:

I don't read this sort of book normally, but a colleague raved about it and lent me his copy.

It is a really great story filled with lots of historical context (some of it quite surprising and unexpected).

alan said...

possibly: 'The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It' I found it over dramatised and not detailed enough but managed to read it all.

Sonja said...

I'm a bit nervous of recommending anything to you Courtney because you have such high standards for quality - but if you haven't already read it, Bill Bryson's At Home is an absolutely fascinating look at the history of keeping house. I'm not actually a Bryson fan but I picked this up last Christmas on special and it is great to dip into. I think I had heard or seen a review of it which caught my interest and it was definitely worth it.

Ron Brownson said...

What should you read over summer? I suggest these books:
George Eliot's Middlemarch and Anna Akhtmatova's Collected Poems.
Ron Brownson