Terminal by Andrew Vachss. Another in the Burke series. This isn’t the best of the series, and not the place to start, certainly, but if you like the series and haven’t read this one, it’s pretty good. All the usual Burke/Vachss stuff is here.
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. I led a group who read this together on Daily Kos. Next week, we will start Ideas: A history of thought and Invention from Fire to Freud, maybe I will post that here, as well. This is an attempt to answer the question: Why do the Eurasians and their descendants have all the stuff, while the people of the Americas, Africa, and Australia have very little?
Year’s Best Science Fiction by Gardner Dozois. In my opinion, the best of the annual anthologies. I am going through this slowly, but I want to finish it before next summer!
Mistakes were made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris. All about cognitive dissonance and how we justify our own actions. Excellent book about how we all fool ourselves and how memory works (and doesn’t). A lot of information on cognitive dissonance and other topics, very clearly presented.
The annotated Alan Turing by Charles Petzold. This is a brilliant idea. Petzold has taken Alan Turing’s classic paper on computability and provided extensive, paragraph by paragraph commentary on it, making it comprehensible for a lot more people (like me). This sort of thing should be done more often.
The Pursuit of Glory: Five revolutions that made modern Europe: 1648 – 1815 by Tim Blanning. To quote the NY Times Book Review: “History writing at its glorious best”. Blanning is a highly knowledgeable guide to this period, but, more than that, he has a talent for pointing out the odd fact and making it fit into a bigger picture. He makes observations that strike you as obvious – once you’ve read them – and draws you into the narrative. Anyone with interest in this period should read this book
Finding our Tongues: Mothers, infants and the evolution of language by Dean Falk. Wonderfully written and engaging, this is scholarly writing at its best. Speech – and language generally – is the quintessential human activity. While there are arguments about whether other primates can really learn a language, or how much language some other species have, there’s no doubt that no animal uses language to the extent that we do. How did this happen?
Varieties of Scientific Experience: A personal view of the search for God by Carl Sagan. Sagan gave the Gifford Lectures which had also been given by William James. James’ series was written up as Varieties of Religious Experience, and Sagan makes a play on that title. This is a look at the religious (or not) views of a man who was much more than a science popularizer
Strange Curves, Counting Rabbits, and Other Mathematical Explorations by Keith Ball. An excellent popular math book, for an audience who has perhaps had a semester or two of calculus at some point (although it’s not strictly necessary).
Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters who Ruled Europe by Nancy Goldstone. A good into to 13th century Europe, told from the perspective of four sisters who became queens of France, England, Germany and Sicily. Nicely written and light
And some technical books for work.