Recent Reads

A Crack in the Edge of the World, by Simon Winchester. Ostensibly about the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, but marvelously about geology in general. Now I think I almost grasp plate tectonics, thanks to Winchester.

The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914, by Barbara Tuchman. (I know it was an instant classic upon publication in 1966, but I’m slow sometimes.)

Thunderstruck, by Erik Larson. Gripping parallel stories of Marconi and Dr. Crippen.

Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larson. Tremendous reading–as usual–by Edward Herrmann. About the 1900 Galveston hurricane.

Oliver Sacks:


Musicophilia (I have earworms, so this book is very reassuring. See also

Steven Johnson: Fast becoming a hero of mine!

Where Good Ideas Come From.

Everything Bad Is Good for You.

Mind Wide Open.

The Ghost Map.



Books that have stayed with me at least 20 years

the river why

1. The Gift. Hafiz/Daniel Ladinsky.
2. The Tempest. Shakespeare.
3. Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke.
4. The Phoenix (Old English poem).
5. The River Why. David James Duncan.
6. Four Quartets. T.S. Eliot.
7. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Joseph Campbell.
8. Envisioning Information. Edward Tufte.
9. Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats.
10. Lunch Poems. Frank O’Hara

Books for Brains (i.e. for smart people or those who want to be)

Here are my favorite brain-feeders and books about the brain, in no particular order.

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

All Edward Tufte books

Incognito by David Eagleman

The Black Swan by Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Antifragility by Nicholas Nassim Taleb

Fooled by Randomness by Nicholas Nassim Taleb

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

Everything Bad Is Good for You by Steven Johnson

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson