Earl Stanley Gardener - The Case Of The Mythical Monkeys
Perry Mason! I used to love reading his cases as a child. The original bad-ass lawyer, well before Johnny-come-lately Mr. Grisham. Rereading them, and man does it ever hold up. The sleaze is just as obvious, the twists are more in the writing than in the plot, and it's corny as hell, but I love it. In this one, a seductive author sends her even-more-seductive full-time secretary to a ski resort, and she finds murder in a shack near there when she takes a shortcut. A classic.
Earl Stanley Gardener - The Case Of The Howling Dog
I got into Perry Mason after I'd exhausted my school's library off of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton. I pushed my luck too much back then, though, because on one ocassion the librarian was scandalised when I asked her where I might find more of Perry Mason's novels. "But Perry Mason is too grown up for you!" she remarked. This book is clearly of its time, full of slightly uncomfortable race references, and with weird turns of phrases ("I'm commencing to think so" which shows up all over the book). The plot is certainly nothing worthy of Hercule Poirot, but I read it quickly, and it was a nice page-turner.
John Edward Huth - The Lost Art Of Finding Our Way
Wow. The book I've been waiting for all my life. How does a nincompoop with no sense of direction begin to learn about navigation? He finds a CERN physicist obsessed with navigation and reads his book. This book is lovely. It's a 'grab bag of tricks', said one review, interspersed with history lessons, the author's own experiences, and some actual tips on how to implement all of it. So it's both an instruction manual and a history lesson. Simply lovely.
David Eagleman - Livewired
This is a terrible book. This is a great book. But this is mostly a terrible book. David Eagleman is a better writer than most scientists, but his ego also seems much more inflated than most scientists. The book is so grating in its techno-optimism and hopes of a bionic future that it is difficult to appreciate the illumination buried within. It is replete with scary thoughts about how we should have a Bluetooth chip embedded in our skulls so that we may control a robot in Japan (?!).
It's an uncomfortable realisation that there are people who are this confidently on the opposite spectrum to me in terms of our role as earthlings. My preferred mantra is "Leave No Trace". My favourite quote is "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished". But here exists a highly influential scientist suggesting we shall all soon be cutting off our wrists to replace them with bionic ones that have 360° rotation. As if the law of Unintended Consequences didn't exist. To quote Maciej Ceglowski, we as a species are yet to solve Male Pattern Baldness. Where does this hubris come from? A second sin is that the book is repetitive and padded, with page after page of terrible analogies in service of that repetition and padding. Eagleman, when he's strictly describing a scientific concept (the plug-and-play model of the brain, neuroplasticity etc.) is a glittering writer with infectious ethusiasm. But it's so annoying as a whole that I cannot recommend it.