We take a lot for granted. There’s usually a grocery store within range. If necessary we can ride over in a car. On a highway. Living in Georgia is possible mostly because of air conditioning. We also have doctors, electric lights, and chocolate ice cream. And books. What would life be like if there were no books?
The printing press was invented in the middle of the 15th century by Johannes Gutenberg. I’d be hard-pressed to name any human being anywhere who has made a larger contribution. There’s nothing more helpful on a rainy day than a good book. Lately I’ve especially enjoyed a few that I’d like to identify.
Heart of a Patriot, how I found the courage to survive Vietnam , Walter Reed, and Karl Rove. By Max Cleland with Ben Raines. One of the most inspirational books I’ve ever come across.
Death by Black Hole, and other cosmic quandaries. By Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Tyson has a serious talent for describing astrophysics in plain English. How the universe works, and how good we’ve always been at getting it wrong.
The Modern Mind, an intellectual history of the 20th century. By Peter Watson. Watson describes the incredible advances and struggles caused by scientific advance, social adjustment, industrial development, and other aspects of the cultural tsunami that engulfed us during the last century.
Year Million, science at the far edge of knowledge. Edited by Damien Broderick, A fascinating anthology of prognostications by Catherine Asaro, Gregory Benford, Douglas Dixon, Wil McCarthy, Pamela Sargent, Rudy Rucker, George Zebrowski, and others.
Shield of the Republic: the United States Navy in an era of cold war and violent peace, 1945-1962. By Michael T. Isenberg. Maintaining the Navy during turbulent times, with a vision of how our government works and sometimes just gets lucky.
And finally, The Enlightenment: and why it still matters. By Anthony Pagden. An analysis of the revolutionary intellectual advances during the last four centuries that have changed the world.