I’ve often felt that one of the best ways to learn about someone is to see what’s on his or her bookshelves. So…I thought I’d throw this question out there and see if I get any nibbles.
If the mods — and the rest of you — don’t mind, I’d like to propose that we largely exclude overtly theological books. That way nobody has to feel guilty if they don’t mention the bible first, and besides, pretty much everyone is also gonna list C.S. Lewis’ _Mere Christianity (and maybe a couple others of his, as well). But if you just have to go theological, we’ll call it a suggestion, rather than a rule.
My own list (and I may add a couple later that I didn’t think of on the first pass):
Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff
Probably my favorite book, and I’ve read most of Mr. Wolfe’s others, as well. Several years ago, my wife found an autographed first edition of it on Ebay and gave it to me for my birthday.
Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb
Honestly one of the best books I’ve ever read, regardless of subject. In addition to cataloging a who’s-who of early/mid twentieth century physicists, Rhodes captures just how pivotal in history it was that the Americans develop this weapon first. I can’t help but also feel a bit melancholy about it all, as well, as one has to wonder if our nation could pull off a project of this magnitude today.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Admittedly, I have not kept up on fiction much in my adult life. But Mrs Shelley’s dark vision of a novel is one that I re-read every few years. My older copy of it has post-it’s & highlighting on a number of pages. As a physician, I think perhaps there’s always been something about this tale that has particularly resonated with me… What are we as humans, besides a collection of functional biological parts? What are the over-arching moral ramifications of the things that we pursue in medicine, or for that matter, any of the sciences? How does Frankenstein’s warped relationship with his creation stand in contrast to our Creator’s relationship with us?
Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other
Big fan of Dr. Hanson, and this is his history of the Peloponnesian War. I recall just not being able to put it down. More recently, he’s written a history of World War II, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to start it yet, knowing that I’ll likely get sucked down the hole again until I finish it.
A few things from the last several years that I’ve enjoyed:
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs & Steel
Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
Dava Sobel, Longitude
Jordan Peterson, Twelve Rules for Life
I know, I know…Dr. Peterson is quite the hot potato nowadays. But I, for one, find him a terribly interesting cat.
Feel free to play along yourself.