I saw my first “Best Of” list for 2013 today. It was from this past Sunday’s New York Times Sunday Book Review, the 100 Notable Books of 2013. It goes without saying that there are plenty of books and authors worth checking out on this list. A few I’ve read: Andre Dubus III’s, Dirty Love and Jamie Quatro’s, I Want to Show You More (I saw these two together on a panel at this year’s Boston Book Festival), and Megan Marshall’s wonderful biography, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. Several also appear on my “to read” list: Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink and The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, to name a couple.
Over the past year, I’ve mentioned a number of books that I like and find useful for my work. Since it’s that time of year (and because the blog post that I started to write for this week was depressing me), I thought I’d list a few favorites that I read in 2013, that currently reside on my Kindle, and that I’ve not noted previously. They weren’t all published in 2013, but they landed on my virtual bookshelf within the past twelve months, thankfully before the start-up of drone delivery.
by Roberta Ness
Roberta Ness, MD, MPH, is the Dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health. This book is based upon the course, “Innovative Thinking”, that she teaches at the School. It gives practical examples and a host of exercises that the reader can do to develop his/her own habits for thinking more creatively, whether you’re a scientist or not. (Published: 2012)
by Matt Kingdon
I often think how one of the things we’ve lost in moving scholarship to the desktop article level is the random act of finding relationships between unrelated things, aka serendipity. When an article was physically bound next to others, your chances of seeing something besides the one thing you were looking for were greatly enhanced. Strolling the stacks led you to also notice the other journals and/or books nearby, each filled with ideas that could unlock a whole new train of thought. Kingdon’s book is written for the business world, but I found it highly insightful for learning about how ideas and products are often born out of seemingly random connections. The key to success, he argues, is learning how to see these connections and then move them to the level where things happen. (Published: 2012)
by Susan Weinshenk
If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I write a lot about how to design and deliver presentations. This book adds to that topic, but also brings in some science about how people listen and take in information. We know that the best presenters are those who can give their audience what it wants. This book gives some tips (100 of them) on how to become better at doing just that. (Published: 2012)
by Michael Nielsen
Librarians talk a lot about our possible role(s) in eScience as it relates to data. For me, though, the more interesting place to work is in the other side of eScience, i.e. networks. Nielsen’s book is a fascinating read into how science happens today via vast networks of people and talent and interests, all connected by the internet (and subsequent techie tools that harness its power). Read this book along with David Weinberger’s, Too Big to Know, and you’ll likely never think about knowledge and discovery in quite the same way again. (I also recommend wearing headgear while reading them. The ideas can make your head explode.) (Published: 2011)
by Colonel Chris Hadfield
Canada’s best known and likely best loved astronaut offers up a memoir filled with lots of lessons for all of us stuck on Earth. This book just came out in late October. I downloaded it and read it over a weekend on my couch. It’s a virtual page turner. If you love space (I sure do!) or just a great story about someone doggedly reaching his goals (imagine wanting to be an astronaut when your country doesn’t even have such things), give this one a go. You’ll enjoy it. Follow @Cmdr_Hadfield on Twitter, too. Great stuff!
Now it’s your turn. Share some of your favorites from the past year. One can never have a “to read” list that’s too long.