Top #10 Non-Fiction
1) Code – Petzold
This is such an elegant book that describes the very beginnings of how computers work.. it goes right back to the start and kicks it off with telegraphs and the such. It’s a really great foundation for just about anything vaguely using electronics (which is probably every gadget nowadays, phones, door bells, toys, washing machines and countless more) and I feel this book should be compulsory in all schools so people growing up understand how things work.
2) Ripper Confidential -Wescott
I am what some describe as a Ripperologist! A pathetic nomenclature really as it involves much more than just theorising regarding who was Jack the Ripper. It’s about the social history of the period, the politics, the workings of the system. It’s about real people. I’ve read a great many books on the topic but this one is the absolutely stand out best by a long way. Essential reading. Even if you have no interest in the subject area. I have my own theories regarding Saucy Jack but they are too long to go into here.
3) Nightmare of Ecstasy – Grey
This is a brief biography of failed director Ed Wood jr and a collection of memories and snippets regarding the man from those that knew him when he was around. Its a bittersweet read. For all his failings you get the sense that he was a good if very strange man.
4) Stalingrad – Beevor
The absolute best historical text describing the events of Stalingrad in 1942/43.
5) Cancer Patient – Cook
These are the thoughts and muses during initial cancer diagnosis for my old pen pal Hugh and his life events as they unfolded afterwards. He finally succumbed, but he left this book as a memoir from that period.
6) Land of Lisp – Barski
This is probably the most fun and interesting ‘learn a computer language’ book I’ve ever read. Sadly Lisp is a tad dead and I wish the same verve, wit and style of the approach taken here could be used to tackle say Java or Ruby.
7) Fabric of the Cosmos – Greene
This a fantastic entry level theoretical physics book covering all of the key stuff. It’s far better explained than any others I’ve read (including Brief History of Time) and it’s actually a bit of a page turner if this is your sort of thing.
8) The God Delusion – Dawking
Should be essential reading for everyone.
9) Rimbaud – Robb
I’ve never been a big fan of poetry, I always felt like people that couldn’t write novels wrote poetry instead. Nevertheless I was always fascinated by Arthur Rimbaud who did all his poetry writing in his teens, was thoroughly obnoxious to everyone, then packed it all in by age 19, never wrote another word again, transformed into a respected chap, and went to Africa to sell coffee beans instead. It’s like 2 totally separate people occupied the same body. One before 19, and one after. It’s a mystery. A well research biography this one. There’s a few out there, (I also enjoyed Edmund White’s The Double Life of a Rebel, but this one is the more academic one IMHO)
10) Reality is not what it seems – Rovelli
Mr Rovelli is possibly the greatest theoretical physics author alive. He not only explains concepts, but he does it with style, with grace, with elegance. It’s a joy to read his words and the way he constructs his sentences and arguments. It’s a real pleasure. They are all too brief however.