Here is the “hybrid mix” of my favourite books and their authors that have had the biggest influence on how I see the world. The process of listing them up has made the progression of the underlying preoccupations quite clear. The books are listed in the order I read them over the years, to the best of my recollection.
- “In Search of Shrodinger’s Cat” by John Gribbin
- “The Emperor’s New Mind” by Roger Penrose
- “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond
- “Turn on, tune in, drop out” by Timothy Leary
- “Catch 22″ by Joseph Heller
- “The Ghost in the Machine” by Arthur Koestler
- “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell
- “How the Mind Works” by Steven Pinker
- “Naked Lunch” by William S. Burroughs
- “The Richness of Life: the Essential Stephen J Gould” edited by Steven Rose
- “Consilience” by Edward O. Wilson
- “Buddha” (Japanese manga series) by Tezuka Osamu
- “Godel, Escher, Bach – An Eternal Golden Braid” – by Douglas R. Hofstadter
- “Radiation & Reason” by Wade Allison
- “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly
- “The Price of Inequality” by Joseph E. Stiglitz
- “The God Species” by Mark Lynas
- “The Social Conquest of Earth” by Edward O. Wilson
- “Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
You will notice that most of these are science books, but the few novels among them made me think hard about the brain, psychology or the human condition in some way. You go on many journeys during your life, but the one I am putting down here relates more to scientific enquiry than any other, but no doubt a few of these same books could feature in a different thread as well.
I should also add that I do not agree with everything that is written in all of them. It would be hard to since some of the perspectives in them are at odds with those in others. Actually I discovered Gould because I just could not swallow everything Pinker was saying, but settled at around about Wilson in the evolutionary psychology debates. Koestler and Hofstader are both outliers as scientists, but so dazzling as polymaths I found their books inspirational.
I should add that I do not just read science books, but it is harder to trace the trajectory of interest and discovery over time with novels, history books etc.
I intend to write short reviews or pick up on key ideas from these in future posts, but I am sure the influence of these great authors will be evident in other posts in the mean time.