The 12 must read books – Those I haven’t read

Following on from last week’s “must read” list of the books I have read, this next set is a list of 12 that I haven’t read and feel I should. Again in no particular order:

1. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. It is the one science book that nearly everybody seems to own but nobody has read. I will probably read it at some point but having recently bough both The Quantum Universe and Why does E=mc2 and why does it matter? (both by Prof Brian Cox) it may be unnecessary to read it

2. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. This is on my bookshelf so it is only a matter of time before I read it. It is Dawkins’ seminal work on genetic evolution and where he first expresses his “meme” concept.I’ve read a few of his books so I’m expecting this to be as fascinating and fluid as the others

3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Another that is on my shelf ready to read. I’m fascinated by the concept of a WWII satire and the book that inspired the catchphrase that we use to mean a no-win situation. Every time I read the synopsis I find myself chuckling

4. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. It is a book that really brought to light the danger of some pesticides (particularly DDT) that was another catalyst for the environmental movement. It is also a book that gets paranoid conservative types hot under the collar and making all sorts of claims about her and its content. I’d like to know whether any of it is true (judging by most claims made against environmentalists and climate scientists, probably not)

5. War and Peace by Tolstoy. I couldn’t not include what is considered one of the finest pieces of world literature. Daunting, but I think I could manage it. I have it saved to my Kindle so it is only a matter of time. I’ll probably schedule it for 2013 – I expect it to take the whole year 😉

6. Another on my shelf is the autobiography Hitch-22. Christopher Hitchens was a remarkable man. In life he is one of only a handful of people to have been permitted to visit North Korea. A political campaigner and outspoken atheist who was relentless is adherence to the facts in any argument, something that his opponents were often unable to do. I expect to read this later in the year

7. A Tale of Two Cities. Considered by many to be Dicken’s greatest work. Because the subject matter is different from most of his other work, I’ve always been intrigued to read this one. And no, I don’t know the ending though how I’ve managed to avoid it must be an achievement in itself

8. The Puppet Masters by Robert Heinlein. A hugely influential work due to its theme of instilling paranoia of the subversive influence of the alien menace. Prior to this, most alien invasion novels had followed the Wells formula of overt military attack, invasion and conquest. This book began a trend in science fiction (playing very much on McCarthyite fears in the 1950s when it was written) that continues to this day

9. The Diary of Anne Frank. It’s just one of those “must read” books. I suppose that no matter how many fictional or semi-fictional portrayals we can read or watch about the holocaust, it doesn’t get more personal than the diary of a young girl in hiding who eventually gets caught and dies in a concentration camp

10. The Great Gatsby. If there is a great American novel not written by Mark Twain that is spoken of in glowing terms in Blighty it is this F. Scott Fitzgerald offering.

11. Cosmos. Widely credited for bringing astronomy to the masses, Carl Sagan’s moving “pale blue dot” speech is one that needs to be repeated (if you click the link, please be advised that I no longer have a tumblr page). I heard it for the first time last year and found his language elegant and passionate. I would dearly love to read this, a book that is considered to be one of the greatest works of popular astronomy

12. Don Quixote. Another book that has been hailed “the best book ever written”, the fact that it is highly regarded nearly four hundred years after publication must count for something. That, for me, is intriguing enough to merit a read (another Kindle download)


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