What If

Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Randall Munroe


I've been reading Randall's webcomic XKCD for a number of years and bought this book as soon as it came out. Science! It works.

Building the H Bomb

A Personal History

Kenneth W. Ford


My dad's book. He was there in Los Alamos and Princeton when famous scientists were making hydrogen burn itself into helium at millions of degrees and in millionths of seconds.

Shipwrecks of the Baltic

Björn Hagberg, Jonas Dahm, Carl Douglas


Interesting book about ships (and a plane or two) that were sunk, and then found, in the Baltic Sea, mostly in WWI and WWII. The writing is a little stilted, but i attribute that to the English translation, as it was originally written in Swedish. The photos are beautiful. Carl Douglas, one of the authors, and a classmate of mine at Concord Academy, gave this book to me as a gift.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee


I read this once many many years ago and only remembered bits of it. I found that it reminded me of the novel that i just wrote in its pacing and unhurriedness. It's the kind of book that ends with an awakening of the big picture of the book, the main themes, with the small details falling out of memory for the overall feel of the world in which the characters live.

But when Calpurnia took Jem and Scout to church, there was this: "Calpurnia motioned Jem and me to the end of the row and placed herself between us."

Then, a page later:

   I punched Jem. "That's the Tom Atticus's de—"
   I turned to Calpurnia but was hushed before i could open my mouth.

So how, i wonder, did Scout end up between Cal and Jem all of a sudden? Oops.

Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Café

Tilia Klebenov Jacobs


Short book that i would classify in the "summer reads" genre. The writing is descriptive and the plot takes place over three days, involving three people with horrible pasts meeting and learning about each other. Some of the dialog is stilted but it works and builds to a dramatic confrontation.

Tilia teaches writing at a Massachustts state prison, and that background shows up heftily in this book.

Bored of the Rings

Harvard Lampoon


I've read this book many times. Picked it up again when i was at our summer house on vacation. Still funny, and quality of writing far exceeds that of The Hunger Pains. This was written in 1968, back when, aparently, clever writing was more than making your characters stupid.

Frozen In Time

An epic story of survival and a modern quest for lost heroes of World War II

Mitchell Zuckoff


I started this while waiting for a CAT scan at the Rutland hospital. Well-told account of the survivors of a B-17 bomber trapped on the ice cap of greenland with a parallel story of a modern-day mission to locate a Coast Guard plane that went down while trying to rescue the B-17 airmen.