1. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh
Do No Harm offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. With astonishing candour and compassion, Henry Marsh reveals the exhilarating drama of surgery, the chaos and confusion of a busy modern hospital, and above all the need for hope when faced with life’s most agonising decisions.
2. A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes by
Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.
3. Alan Turing: The Enigma by
The official book behind the eight-time Oscar-nominated film, The Imitation Game, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Alan Turing was the mathematician whose cipher-cracking transformed the Second World War. Taken on by British Intelligence in 1938, as a shy young Cambridge don, he combined brilliant logic with a flair for engineering. In 1940 his machines were breaking the Enigma-enciphered messages of Nazi Germany’s air force. He then headed the penetration of the super-secure U-boat communications. But his vision went far beyond this achievement. Before the war he had invented the concept of the universal machine, and in 1945 he turned this into the first design for a digital computer. Turing’s far-sighted plans for the digital era forged ahead into a vision for Artificial Intelligence. However, in 1952 his homosexuality rendered him a criminal and he was subjected to humiliating treatment. In 1954, aged 41, Alan Turing took his own life.
Travelling to Infinity: The True Story Behind the Theory of Everything by
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can’t name and don’t understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we’re embarrassed. That fact is whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. The introvert/extrovert divide is the most fundamental dimension of personality. And at least a third of us are on the introverted side. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity and Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Yet extroverts have taken over. Shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negative. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are. In Quiet, Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She gives introverts the tools to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with real stories, Quiet will permanently change how we see introverts – and how you see yourself.
6. Thinking, Fast and Slow by
The New York Times Bestseller, acclaimed by author such as Freakonomics co-author Steven D. Levitt, Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Nudge co-author Richard Thaler, Thinking Fast and Slowoffers a whole new look at the way our minds work, and how we make decisions. Why is there more chance we’ll believe something if it’s in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. This book reveals how our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical), and gives you practical techniques for slower, smarter thinking. It will enable to you make better decisions at work, at home, and in everything you do.
7. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by
Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4,000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft, and become a YouTube sensation with his performance of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ in space. The secret to Chris Hadfield’s success – and survival – is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst – and enjoy every moment of it. In his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement – and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don’t visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff. You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Colonel Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights in this book will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth – especially your own.
8. Happiness by Design: Finding Pleasure and Purpose in Everyday Life by
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
In Being Mortal, Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of aging and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. And he emerges with story that crosses the globe and history, exploring questions that range from the curious to the profound: What happens to people’s teeth as they get old? Did human beings really commit senecide, the sacrifice of the elderly? Why do the aged so dread nursing homes and hospitals? How should someone give another person the dreadful news that they will die? This is a story told only as Atul Gawande can – penetrating people’s lives and also the systems that have evolved to govern our mortality. Those systems, he observes, routinely fail to serve – or even acknowledge – people’s needs and priorities beyond mere survival. And the consequences are devastating lives, families, and even whole economies. But, as he reveals, it doesn’t have to be this way. Atul Gawande has delivered an engrossing tale of science, history and remarkable characters in the vein of Oliver Sacks. Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection, a free visitor destination that explores the connections between medicine, life and art. Atul Gawande will deliver this year’s BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures on the subject of The Future of Medicine.
10. You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by
In You Are Here, celebrated astronaut Chris Hadfield gives us the really big picture: this is our home, as seen from space. The millions of us who followed Hadfield’s news-making Twitter feed from the International Space Station thought we knew what we were looking at when we first saw his photos. But we may have caught the beauty and missed the full meaning. Now, through photographs – many of which have never been shared – Hadfield unveils a fresh and insightful look at our planet. He sees astonishing detail and importance in these images, not just because he’s spent months in space but because his in-depth knowledge of geology, geography and meteorology allows him to reveal the photos’ mysteries. Featuring Hadfield’s favourite images, You Are Here is divided by continent and represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. Surprising, thought-provoking and visually delightful, it opens a singular window on our planet, using remarkable photographs to illuminate the history and consequences of human settlement, the magnificence of never-before-noticed landscapes, and the power of the natural forces shaping our world and the future of our species.
This list has been adapted from the Amazon.co.uk, from 2nd February 2015.