Matthew Cobb pointed me to an interesting site for picking up tips on books. It’s called Five Books, and the schtick is this: an expert in a field is asked to choose five books on a topic related to her work. An interview goes with the recommendations. (Don’t be put off by this week’s New-Agey home page.)
Science, especially biology, is not this site’s strong suit, but you can still find Walter Isaacson on “Einstein” Lewis Wolpert on “Science” , David Brooks on “Neuroscience“, Steven Gubser on “String Theory,” and Jeremy Mynott on “Birdwatching.” I was pleased to see that Mynott’s first choice was one of the books I recommended so highly here: The Peregrine, by J. A. Baker. He says this about it:
This book caught my imagination when I first read it, which was in the late 1960s. It’s a book about one man’s obsession with a particular bird. He was fascinated with a peregrine that he found locally, and he stalked it for a whole year. He tried to follow it in all its movements and get the bird used to him so that he could approach it more closely than a peregrine would normally allow. It’s the story of this pursuit of the bird and how he came to feel a kind of affinity with it, and how he uses the bird as a symbol for the things he feels, or wants to feel, about the natural world. The writing in the book is really rather extraordinary – it’s a very lyrical, very elevated kind of prose that could completely fail, or become too lush or rich or something. He just about teeters on the brink the whole time, and you think, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s overdone it now!’ and then he gets away with it. I think it’s a magnificent piece of writing that I find very moving.
But who said we always have to read about science? Mary Warnock has some interesting recommendations for “Godless Morality,” and for footy you can find Rob Hughes on “Football” and Simon Kuper on “The Best Football Books in English“. Madhur Jaffrey selects five “Wonderful Cookbooks” while David Bellos chooses “Great French Novels” (en français). Finally (and I’ve omitted tons of categories), Allen MacDuffie has eight selections for “The Comic Novel.”
If you’re casting about for something to read, you could do worse than start here.