What I’m reading

Right now:

The Hidden Face of God: Gerald L. Schroeder.

This book hasn’t made me a believer in the God of Abraham, nor yet an adherent of Shiva, Odin or Ranginui, but it’s interesting, persuasive, very well written, and part of the reason I’m not entirely persuaded to atheism. My instinctive view is that something tilts the cosmic playing field in favour of the universe’s suitability for life. I have no idea what that something may be, so I must remain, like Bertrand Russell, a “bob each way” passionate sceptic. Dr Dawkins may or may not approve.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The Undercover Economist: Tim Harford.

Economics 101 without the maths. I wish I’d had this knowledge 40 years ago. A must-read for everyone with little or no up-to-date knowledge of economics. It could radically change your life.

Recently:

Loving All of It: Eminent New Zealanders Write About Growing Old. Edited by Gordon McLauchlan.

A lot of wisdom here. Not least from the editor himself.

Great Expectations: Charles Dickens.

E=mc²: A biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation: David Bodanis.

An interesting look at Einstein’s famous equation and the fascinating back stories of the people who contributed to his work.

The Warden: Anthony Trollope.

I enjoyed this. Not as pedestrian as many nineteenth century novels.

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson.

Bill sat in a aeroplane and became a little nervous when he realised that he had no idea why it didn’t fall out of the sky. He set out to gain an understanding of science and its history. Mr Bryson is the most popular English language non-fiction writer alive today. This fascinating and entertaining book is one of the reasons why.

Wool to Weta: Paul Callaghan.

An important message, but over-priced. You can get the same information free from this video or on this very website @ My Wits’ End.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Thomas L. Friedman

Mr Friedman isn’t a Pulitzer Prize winner for nothing. Commonsense answers to global problems.
Excellent.

The God Delusion: Richard Dawkins.

An excellent book written in Dr Dawkins’ usual entertaining style. I suspect that he may gain more traction for his message if he wasn’t so scathingly sarcastic in his condemnation of theists’ beliefs, nevertheless it’s hard to argue with his central points: that evolution is solid science and that the beliefs behind most religions are shaky at best.

Some all-time favourites

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Jacob Bronowski

The Ascent of Man

Bill Bryson

The Mother Tongue
Notes From a Small Island

James Burke

Connections

Pat Conroy.

Prince of Tides
The Great Santini

The Lords of Discipline

Mr Conroy is a wonderful writer.  My favourite among many outstanding American authors.

Janet Frame

An Angel at my Table
To the Is-Land
The beautiful autobiographies of a brilliant and disturbed New Zealand author.

Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees
and its sequel, Pigs in Heaven
Animal Dreams
I love Barbara’s books. Wise, often heart-warming, and beautifully written. She’s incapable of writing a bad book.

Robert Goddard

Past Caring

Mr Goddard writes period mystery/thrillers. His heroes are usually flawed individuals battling unusual circumstances. Not the usual run-of-the-mill English who-dunnits.

Frank Herbert

Dune
I recently re-read this and wasn’t as impressed as I was when I was much younger. Dune is one of those rare books that creates in your mind a world you’ll never forget.  It’s been classified by many as the greatest science fiction novel of all time. I don’t agree but it’s still well worth reading just to appreciate Herbert’s amazing imagination. There are 4 or 5 sequels but, just as with The Lord of the Rings, I found them too much like the original and didn’t finish them.

This is a book crying out for a Peter Jackson/Weta Workshops movie.

Keri Hulme

The Bone People

John Le Carre

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Annie Proulx.

The Shipping News

Larry McMurtry

Lonesome Dove
The Late Child
Larry McMurtry is, to the American Western novel, what Tolstoy is to Mills & Boone.

Nicholas Monserrat

The Cruel Sea

Maurice Shadbolt

 

The trilogy:
The Season of the Jew
Monday’s Warriors

and House of Strife
A very good fictionalised background to the Maori wars. Written in an engaging and appropriate period style.

Sheri S, Tepper

Family Tree

Sherri writes science-fiction with serious themes and sometimes with a tint of fantasy. This one’s a little “out there”, or is it? I don’t generally like fantasy but when Sherri Tepper indulges in it, it shines.

Tom Wolfe

A Man in Full
I Am Charlotte Simmons

The Bonfire of the Vanities

 

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