If someone would ask me to choose one thing to take to an uninhabited island that thing would definitely be a good book! Sound dull??? No it doesn’t, and no one can prove me otherwise. I mean, the right book can take you anywhere from magical worlds and the edges of the Universe back to sometimes humorous or depressing reality, and all of this fits to a few pieces of black and white paper… AMAZING!!!
I’m writing about books because I wanted to share some of the treasures that found in the second hand bookshops, here in London. I could spend for hours on end in those places just flipping from one book to another. Mind me, I have nothing against newly printed books but they just don’t have the same feeling as the old ones do… the smell, the thumbed pages, markings and notes it’s just irresistible! Once, I found this old book about Egypt’s archeology and it was full of newspaper cuttings there was even one which announced the finding of the tomb of Tutankhamun! Imagine that, It was discovered in 1922 and now here I am, holding a book which someone 90 years ago was studying carefully and following all the happenings down in Egypt at the same time… it’s as if the time machine does exist!!!
Anyway, not surprisingly, my favorite books are those that relate to science in one-way or another (though, I’m definitely not restricted only to these). The secondhand bookshops don’t have very large shelves dedicated to science but they still have some and among them there are quite a few that are worth buying (I don’t like saying ‘to buy a book’, I prefer to think of it as an investment). From those that I’ve bought I would probably recommend most of them but here I will write only about two must-reads:
First, are books written by Oliver Sacks. These include: “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”, “An Anthropologist on Mars” and many others (including the film “Awakenings” starring Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, which is one of the best movies I have ever seen (probably one of the saddest too)). All of Sacks’ books are related to neurological diseases and lesions but It wouldn’t be right to say that they are only for people who study or work with neurosciences, and that’s, actually, the best thing about his books: they are understandable for anyone who has any interest about how the brain of human works. Moreover, Sacks writes in a very objective way, i.e. not only as a doctor (he is a professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center) but he also tries to see the condition from a patients point of view, which makes all of his writing very intimate and humane. Here’s a link to a short talk of his on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/oliver_sacks_what_hallucination_reveals_about_our_minds.html
Second is the one and only Richard Feynman. Man he’s good! I have never been very good in physics but I do enjoy a good bit of physics and at this point Feynman is definitely the best place to look for it. Now I’m reading his “QED”, which is a collection of his lectures on quantum electrodynamics. Who would’ve thought that it’s exciting to read such things in your spare time – but when it’s presented by Feynman IT IS!!! I also have read his “Surely you’re joking Mr. Feynman!” where he writes about his small adventures in life. It’s a very inspirational book, when I’ve read it I thought- now this is how the real scientist should be like! I love his attitude of physics being a sort of a play and science as a whole a one big puzzle; the thing that matters is not the result you get but the process by which you found it, the way you figure out and discover which bits and pieces come together in this puzzle.
So, this is my short book review, if I may call it so. Hope you will now be tempted to read some of these books. BOOKS ROCK!!!