Monday, 29 December 2014

If my library burned down?

I like to read a lot of non-fiction, mainly scientific or technical books. Now I am in the process of reading two books simultaneously, one of which is Finding Moonshine by Marcus du Sautoy. The book is about symmetrical objects in mathematics, and perhaps this blog is not the right medium to discuss the book in detail. What I am more interested in today is a remark the author makes in a certain context in the book. He quotes someone saying which book that person would pick up if his library burnt down. And that got me thinking. Which book would I pick up, if my modest library at home burned down for some reason?
Now this is really a tough one to answer, and I thought about it for a while and then decided that it would be injustice to put all the books I own in the same category. So I decided to make three categories, one for non-fiction, the second for technical and the third for fiction. Now, I do own a lot of books (maybe around 1000 or so by my modest age and income) but I do not own some of my favourite books, so the book I shall choose may not necessarily reflect the one that I love/d the most.

Non-fiction: The choice of this book would have been undoubtedly Richard Feynman's Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman which was reviewed earlier in this blog. But unfortunately, my copy of this book was lent to someone with whom I am no longer on amicable terms, and hence I never asked it back from that person. So, from the books that I have in my collection I would go with A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. This book was also reviewed earlier in this blog. This is one book which has inspired me a lot, and which I have read only once, so its time I should re-read it again.

Technical: This was a very easy choice to make. I would go with Graham, Patashnik and Knuth's Concrete Mathematics, before anything else. I like the style of this book a lot, and I have never managed to finish reading all parts of it. It contains some really cool mathematics which I have not seen anywhere else and I would really love to learn all that. Coming close second would be the three volume Feynman Lectures on Physics.

Fiction: My friends who know the kind of books I read knows that my all time favourite fiction title is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This book contains everything there is in life - love, romance, revenge, etc. The book was reviewed earlier in the blog by me. But unfortunately, I do not own a copy of this masterpiece and hence this book is out of contention. The next choice is also a book which will have no competition in my list of all time favourites. I would like to pick up my copy of The Collected Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. Much has been said here and here about this world-class detective, so I would not add anything else and let the matter rest.

So, thats it! Those were the books I would pick up if I could only choose one of each kind in case my library got burned. Those would still be the books I would pick up in case any library got burned down and I was allowed to choose one book each. So, what do you think? I would love to hear from you about your list of books that you would pick up. Drop in a comment.