Earlier this week Aidan Moher gave us his thoughts about genre diversity in response to Mark Charan Newton’s column on the same topic. In the comments, Andrew Liptak opined that he felt the point of the Mark’s column was a wide reading range is a good thing. In other words, not to read just one genre or just the big name’s.
I’m going to list some books, and genres, here that cover not only reading the non A-listers, but also outside the genre. First up, a couple of books in the SF/F section.
- Swords And Dark Magic – You may wonder why an anthology edited by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan is here. Easy. I’m a SF guy who’s not big on fantasy. But this book, with a couple of exceptions, is filled with tremendously entertaining stories. I think even the non-Fantasy fans will enjoy it.
- Singularity – By Bill De Smedt. A highly entertaining SF read masquerading as a technothriller. This would make a fabulous mini-series on TV. We’ve pushed this before but it deserves to be read by more people.
And now for the non-genre section. I almost always read SF, but when I don’t, I like to read about:
Science and Technology
- Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid – By Douglas Hofstadter. If you have any interest in math, music, art or computer science, this is a book you must read. A highly entertaining and though provoking read, even 30 years later, it’s no wonder it won the Pulitzer Prize.
- The Age Of Wonder – By Richard Holmes. Holmes looks at the Romantic period of time where art infused science with a sense of wonder that hadn’t existed before. A book jam packed with information about the people of this time, such as William Herschel, Humphrey Davy and Joseph Banks.
- Programming The Universe – By Seth Lloyd. This book introduced me to the informational theory of cosmology and let me tell you, it’s a mind expanding idea. Basically Lloyd is arguing that the universe is a giant quantum computer, computing itself, and everything in it is, at its core, nothing but information.
- The Discoverers
- Last Stand Of The Tin Can Sailors – By James D. Hornfischer. A gripping account of a small engagement in the larger battle of Leyte Gulf which began the American liberation of the Philippines. It centers on the men of the destroyer Taffy 3 who, along with their small naval force, battled a much larger Japanese fleet to a standstill and helped ensure an American victory. Powerful, gut-wrench and moving, this is on gripping read.
- The Pacific War – By John Costello. This is a one volume, very large, account of the Pacific War during WW II from 1941 – 1945. Packed with facts, figures and plenty of pictures, this book goes a long way towards illuminating the cause and effects of the Pacific War.
- A Forest Of Kings: The Untold Story Of The Ancient Maya – By David Freidel and Linda Schele. My wife and I honeymooned in Belize and one of our day trips was to the Mayan ruins of Tikal (famously known as the Rebel base on Yavin’s moon). That visit inspired me to find out more about the ancient Maya and this book does a great job of detailing their lives and culture, even if it is a bit on the academic side.
– By Daniel J. Boorstin. This book is a simply amazing read. It’s not only the history of science, but it’s also about man the discoverer and how mankind has progressed from early history to modern times. It doesn’t focus on any on person or geographic area. Instead he turns history into a narrative of discover. More books like this would make history a better regarded subject. (Looks at John)
What do you read when you aren’t reading SF?