Sunday, August 13, 2006

Ian McEwan's top ten

Novelist Ian McEwan is a bit of a science buff, and put up a top fifteen list - a first stab at a popular science canon - earlier this year. It was unveiled in a talk he gave at a meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of Dawkins' Selfish Gene, itself a strong contender for most influential pop science title of recent years, if not the best book.

You can read McEwan's essay as published in The Guardian, or find it on John Brockman's Edge website, along with the rest of the talks.

His top titles:

A science canon

Francis Bacon Advancement of Learning

Antonio Damasio The Feeling of What Happens

Charles Darwin The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (ed Ekman)

Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene

David Deutsch The Fabric of Reality

Jared Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel

Galileo Galilei Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences

Brian Greene The Elegant Universe

David Hume A Treatise of Human Nature

Ernst Mayr This Is Biology

Steven Pinker The Language Instinct

Matt Ridley Nature Via Nurture

Voltaire Letters on England

Steven Weinberg Dreams of a Final Theory

EO Wilson The Diversity of Life

The Voltaire is there, by the way, because he explains Newtonian physics. I'd probably keep Deutsch, Diamond, and Greene, would prefer other books by Darwin, Damasio, Dawkins, Ridley, Weinberg and Wilson, and do without Hume, Pinker, Mayr and Bacon. But a nice place to start a discussion...


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