Monthly Archives: January 2014

Books Do Change How We Think

A few weeks ago, FB folks were listing the ten books they feel have greatly influenced how they think or perceive the world around them. Ten is a limiting number, but here are ten I still think about as I muck my way through life. A couple like How to Lie With Statistics and Gulag Archipelago may explain my cynicism when listening to … well … lies passed off as fact.

The Island Stallion Races – Walter Farley
This was my first science fiction novel and I didn’t even realize it. The better known, The Black Stallion, is the first in the series, and I read them all. What I remember the most about The Island Stallion Races is incorporating aliens and space ships into a horse story.

John Brown’s Body – Stephen Vincent Benet
I read this in high school. I don’t know if anybody today has it on their ‘read’ list. It is an epic poem about the Civil War by one of America’s great poets.

How to Lie with Statistics
– Darrell Huff
Show me your data! I chose this book to read for one of my upper division archaeology classes. Even today, when I look at percentages, I wonder about how and how much data was collected and how it was interpreted.

QB VII – Leon Uris
An awakening about law, justice and the British half-penny.

Gulag Archipelago – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
During the cold war, many people living in The Soviet Union disappeared. The USSR media were masters at putting a spin on what was happening and pitting neighbors against neighbors. Today, I see the same thing happening in the United States. Read this book and see how it is done.

The Hobbit – You know who.
So visual.

The Color of Magic – Terry Pratchett
The beginning of the Disc World series. I love them all. Pratchett is my hero. He is so good at presenting all our human foibles, biases, prejudices and making us laugh. And even his second, third, forth tier characters are memorable.

The Cobra Event – Richard Preston
A fictional version of bio-warfare. Preston mostly writes non-fiction like The Hot Zone
and The Demon in the Freezer.

Ganja Coast – Paul Mann
In the early 80s, I was in India and spent time on the Ganja Coast. When I read the ending of the book, I froze up. I met the killer, but did not know it at the time. He asked me if I was Catholic and if my folks would have my body sent back to the US if I died. All the bells were ringing, when he asked me that and I told him no, my folks would be so mad at me they’d just let me rot where I died. On instinct alone, I took the next train out of there. Turns out, he was shipping bodies stuffed with drugs back to the US so he could start his own Ashram. I never knew that until I read the book.

Snowcrash – Neil Stephenson
Incredibly intelligent SF with linguistics, the metaverse, biomass, and the Deliverator. This is the best Science Fiction book ever.