I wanted to publish for Christmas and New Year’s day a list of books I particularly liked in 2008-09 (I already did a selection in 2007) but couldn’t publish it in time. So, here it is with a few weeks late.
From readings on sustainable development and energy issues to science fiction and from graphic novels to serious readings on social sciences, I recommend you nine books and series of books to keep you busy for days.
Please note that many books have been reviewed here previously and that I added links to enable you to make up your mind. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did !
On environment and energy
Sustainable energy – without the hot air
A book I strongly recommend to anyone interested by sustainable development and energy as it is packed with figures and findings that are due to start discussions among CleanTechies.
Published in 2009it is up to date and explains simply but most effectively – and humor – how we can go for low carbon energy solutions to answer all our needs. Grade : 20/20
Hot, Flat and Crowded
This is the book I would recommend to someone new to the current energy and climate issues. Its author – Thomas Friedman – is a columnist for the New York Times and received three times the Pulitzer Prize.
Very recent as it was published in September 2008, Hot, Flat and Crowded is an excellent read that will bring you a lot of knowledge to fully grasp the world we have to build. Grade: 18/20.
When I discovered this book via The Daily Show with Jon Stewart I knew I had to read what promised to be a fantastic book on India’s past, present and future. And the least I can say is that I wasn’t disappointed.
Imagining India is a must read whether you are an Indian citizen or a foreigner who wants to learn out more on this nation’s potential to become a super power and how IT could revolutionize our lives. Grade : 18/20.
Guns, Germs and Steel
This is a magisterial lesson on history and how Mankind evolved during 13,000 years from small groups of hunter gatherers into the current complex societies with agriculture and industry.
I highly recommend Guns, Germs and Steel to any person wondering why European civilizations conquered the world and not the opposite or each person interested in social sciences as a whole. Grade : 20/20.
The Mars Trilogy
Three huge and excellent books on how Mankind could conquer our neighboring planet during our century and beyond. A fantastic series with a coherent universe, fantastic characters, a real research on the advances of sciences.
This books are literally packed with data on Mars itself, but also on many sciences including genetics, bio-engineering, and yes, environmental questions. My favourite books on 2008. Grade : 19/20
The Revelation Space cycle
Here are five sci-fi books I strongly recommend you if you are interested by the genre. The cycle was written by Alastair Reynolds, a UK scientist who dedicated himself to writing space operas.
Taking place in a not-so-distant future, they provide a good plot in a coherent universe filled with interesting ideas and characters. To make up your mind, your can read Chasm city or the Prefect, which are stand alone stories. Grade : 17/20.
The Foundation cycle
I have to admit I wondered if I should add this most famous series in this selection as I found that the original trilogy aged badly and found them pale in comparison to the above.
But the more recent books are truly interesting and explain why Asimov is still to date considered a grand master of the genre. Grade for the original trilogy : 14/20. Grade for the more recent episodes : 17/20.
Published under the title ” Do androids dream of electric sheeps ?” this book inspired an eponymous film by Ridley Scott in 1982. My third book of P. K. Dick – after Dr. Bloodmoney and A Scanner Darkly – I really enjoyed this one.
In a mere 200 pages, Dick provided another coherent universe with his usual questioning about our societies. A good question posed by this book is ” what makes us human ? ” Grade : 18/20.
To conclude this selection, I would like to present you what I believe is the perfect example of the graphic novel. Half comics half alternate history thriller, the Watchmen is another must read and a page-turner.
I remember wishing I could read faster to know how this superhero story would end. The plot is splendid, the drawings excellent and the characters are simply stunning. Grade : 20/20.
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