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My book recommendations
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Since I've just recently asked for book recommendations, I think that it's only right that I compile my own list of books that I think that everybody should read. So here it is.

Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. A thoroughly wonderful book, that draws from a miriad of different topics: art, music, mathematics, computer science, cybernetics, philosophy, metaphysics, biology. It's all in there, and it's all woven seemlessly into a wonderful intricate tapestry that will have you spellbound and leave you breathless.

The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. This book has been sitting in my "to read" pile for a while, and I finally got around to starting it the other day when I mentioned that I already knew about all the superb physics books out there. I knew of this by reputation only, ad figured I should actually read it. So I did. I just finished earlier today, and this is every bit as good as its reputation. Not only does it provide a fairly nice description of parts of modern physics, it also ties them in with many aspects of Eastern mysticism. Contrary to the title, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen and Neo-Confucianism all get a look in as well as Taoism. And hey, if Lao Tzu and Werner Heisenberg both hold similar opinions on how the world works, then that's got to be worth paying attention to, right?

The Principia Discordia by Malaclypse the Younger. Get hold of a copy. Then read it. The read it again. Then actually really read it. If you read Gödel, Escher, Bach then you will come out of it feeling that you understand the universe. If you then read The Tao of Physics then you will again understand, but what you understand will be totally different. If you read The Principia Discordia then you will know damn well that you don't understand, but you will be wiser for it. It's aso rather funny in places. While I think you should buy a copy and enjoy it in its physical manifestation, if you don't want to do that, then you can also read the whole thing online, though some of it is lost with the missing typesetting.

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman. The problem with this is that because it's a comic, you need to get hold of something like 10 volumes of graphics novels to read the whole thing, and if you want to buy them then they aren't going to be cheap. They're well worth it though, and will demonstrate to any non-believer just how powerful a medium the comic book can be. Drawing extensively from eisting mythologies and from history, this creates a rich internal mythology of it's own, and is alternately sad, funny, thought-provoking, pretty, insightful, clever and a million and one other complimentary adjectives. Just beware that it only really gets going in the second graphic novel (not that the first is bad; it's just not exceptional either) and that some of the introductions can contain spoilers for the upcoming plot. But read it, if you haven't already.

Pretty much anything by Richard Feynman, who is my own personal hero for a reason. Unremitingly intelligent, surprisingly wise for one of such an intelect, and yet always refreshingly human with a remarkable thirst for life. A genuine wit, and a truly great teacher. I'd recommend Surely You're Joking, Mr.Feynman!: Adventures of a Curious Character for insight into the man himself, Q. E. D.: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter if you're looking for some wonderfully clear explanation of some wonderfully complicated physics (written for laypeople, with no knowledge of maths needed) or The Feynman Lectures on Physics if you really want to teach yourself physics, from the bottom up.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I find it hard to believe that there's anyone out there who doesn't know about this book, but just in case, I'd probably best mention it. One of the most wonderfully laugh-out-loud pieces of absurdist literature ever written. This is the sort of book that you can read again and again and again, and never grow tired of.

And now for some honourable mentions. The books that don't quite carry the same "must read" conotations as the above, but which I'd heartily recommend even so. The His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pulman. Apart from being wonderfully gripping and spelbinding stories, these actually also touch on some of the same topics as The Tao of Physics, which is neat. Pretty much anything by Terry Pratchett is well worth reading, and both humourous and insightful, though his early books are less inspired than his later ones. Neil Gaiman has yet to write a bad book, as far as I'm aware, and is, to my mind, the undisputed master of adapting to any medium. Good Omens, a collaboration between Pratchett and Gaiman is wonderful and fantastic and nearly featured in my must read list. For physics, both Paul Davies and John Gribbin have a tendency to write good stuff, and you won't go wrong with any of their stuff. A rather random and obscure favourite of mine is Frogs, Flies & Dandelions by Menno Schilthizen, which is a book on speciation. And finally, I'll mention Arthur C. Clarke's tale of first contact with an alien spacecraft, Rendezvous with Rama which isn't the sort of book that I'd typicaly like since not very much happens in it. Yet when I finished it, I realised that I'd read through the whole thing with rapt attention ad a smile on my face. Note that while the sequels are at least fairly readable, they're absolutely nothing like the original (which was originally planned as a stand alone).

So there we have it. I'm sure there are a whole lot more that I could recommend, but those are the ones that spring to mind right now. I think it's a fairly robust list though, at any rate.

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It's scary how much of that I've read. I guess I better pick up The Tao of Physics.

i envy you though. i would love to be able to read the way you do. i am so slow and get bored so easily. i have adult ADD.

Well, trust me, it took me a long time.

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