Monday, January 23, 2006

To each his own Bible...

There are some books that are akin to the Bhagavad Gita or Bible; even if you don't read them, you get a sense of security and delight in having them around you. You always want to possess a copy or have one issued from the library right next to you. Once in a while, you randomly glance into them and get a deja vu feeling of the fascination you felt when you were first struck by their power and elegance. I have tried to make a list of such books. They always promise a possible escape from your woes as soon as you hold them in your hand. Some of my favourites:

1. The making of the atomic bomb- Richard Rhodes
2. Paradigms Lost- John L. Casti
3. Naturalist- Edward Wilson
4. Robert Oppenheimer; Letters and Recollections- Kimball-Smith and Wiener
5. Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman- Richard Feynman
6. Disturbing the Universe- Freeman Dyson
7. The time machine- H. G. Wells
8. Ivanhoe- Walter Scott
9. Godel, Escher, Bach- Robert Hofstadter
10. Wittgenstein's Poker- Edmonds and Eidinow

and finally...

11. Biochemistry- Lubert Stryer
12. The Feynman Lectures on Physics- Richard Feynman
!!

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anirudh said...

I've read only two of these. Feynman's and H.G.Wells'. I liked "Surely You're Joking.." a lot but "The Time Machine" was okay.

I've heard of Rhodes' book and want to read it. It's supposed to be a big book, isn't it? I've heard a lot about Godel, Escher, Bach but haven't read it. I've been planning to read another book, edited by Hofstadter and Dennett called the Mind's I. Have you read that?

1:56 AM  
Anonymous Siddharth Rege said...

Ashutosh,
It is an unfortunate testament to the time I have wasted watching TV, but I have read only 1 book on your list. (Surely you are joking, Mr Feynman) But I would like to suggest four other books I have found tremendous.
1) Siddhartha by Herman Hess. A must read absolutely. Arguably the most influential book I ever read.
2) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Another must-read. I think the character of Aticus Finch is my all-time favorite.
3) Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway. A timeless classic.
4) Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I read this at 15 so its been 10 years and I cannot say whether I would find it childish now but at the time, I was blown away by the amount of philosphy contained in such a short book about such a seemingly childish story.

Shall read more out of your list when time permits.
Siddharth

10:49 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Siddharth,
This is just a modest personal sampling. I have read 3 out of 4 from your list. Jonathan...is what you say, a pithy story that still seems to propound great philosophy. Because of its size, I have lost count of how many times I have read it..
To kill...is also great; Atticus Finch is my favourite too.
Very much on my list next is Siddhartha...I have heard so many great words about it that I have to read it now.

Do read Rhodes's Making...it's not just a book; it's an epic.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Hirak said...

Highly recommend Hesse's Siddhartha. I read it for the book blog and I was blown away by it. It is a short book but it will take a long time to read as it will definitely cause you to pause and meditate.

6:17 PM  
Blogger s c r a p s s t u f f s said...

Ditto (as if one was needed) on Siddharth and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I guess good things do come in small packages after all. I throughly enjoyed both.

To kill a mockingbird was a very nice read too. The atmosphere in those days (somthing that is completely alien to me) came alive for me.

If you liked Rhodes Making..., then you might also enjoy his other book "Dark Sun: Making of the Hydrogen bomb" but is less fun and more dense.

5:41 AM  

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