From: Raja Thuraisingham [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 1:45 PM
To: Aphismai Phayackaporn
Subject: ITEM FOR THE BLOG - INTERESTING BOOKS I HAVE READ IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS
Here is a list of interesting books that I read in the last 6 months or so with some very brief comments . These are the ones that stick in the mind.
"Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Shirky
Fascinating Book about the power of the Web - it's worth reading if only for the first chapter which is an incredible story about a stolen smartphone in New York and how members of a blog got it back from the thief by harnessing the power of web communities
"Behind That Curtain" by Earl Derr Biggers
One of the Charlie Chan Series of Detective Novels from the 1930's about a Chinese Detective from Honolulu. A period piece.
"Ways Of Seeing" by John Berger
A book about Art and the way Humans percieve it . You will never look at a painting the same way again after reading this book.
"Deep Ancestry" by Spencer Wells
The latest book on the origin of homo sapiens by one of the scientists who is helping to unravel the puzzle . A must read - it seems we are all descended from a small group of humans who migrated out of the east african rift valley about 60,000 years ago and spread out all over the world in 7 families.This is now fact - proven thru Mitochondrial DNA studies.
"The End Of Wall Street As We Know It" by Dave Kansas
Good book on the debt crisis - cuts thru the crap and lays bare the facts without a lot of hype
"Necklace and Calabash" by Robert VanGulik
One of the series of Detective Novels set in Ancient China and featuring Judge Dee, a magistrate from the Tang Dynasty. Van Gulik was a real Chinese Scholar who was very fluent in written and spoken Mandarin as well as being an authority on Chinese Art and Culture - so the books are authentic in detail and a fascinating read and are one of my favourites- and can be re-read many times.
"The Cabinet of Curiosities" by Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston
One of the Agent Pendergast series of thrillers. An absolute must read.To me these books are a cut above stuff like The DaVinci Code etc. In fact all the other Agent Pendergast books are also very good reads .
"Complexity-A Guided Tour" by Melanie Mitchell
A very recent book on Complex Systems . It's non-mathematical and very well written by a former student of Douglas Hofstadter ( who wrote another fascinating book "Godel,Escher and Bach" ) . Complex Systems are basically things where the sum is greater than the parts .....like Ant Colonies ....individual ants are very simple and not intelligent at all. But put them in a large enough group like a colony , they suddenly start exhibiting incredibly complex behaviour and can suddenly do very difficult things without being directed by anyone .
"Life And How To Survive It" by Robin Skinner and John Cleese
An unusual book by a psychologist and a comedian about how to survive life's pitfalls by learning how successful families , couples and teams do it . The book is full of very funny cartoon drawings as well as some very sage advice . The same guys who wrote "Families and How To Survive Them". Very good - fun to read and very useful.
"The Gathering Storm " by Winston S. Churchill
This is the first volume of Winston Churchill's history of the Second World War . Churchill won the Nobel Prize for this work and I am not surprised - it is very well written and tells the story of the war from the inside - and who could tell it better ? To research this book Churchill used a team of young historians to gather the facts - many of them went on to become famous historians themselves.