The PolSource Quarantine Reading List
During lock-down we all find a little extra time on our hands… So we asked the PolSource team: What’s on your quarantine reading list?
Responses varied from career-growth reads, to pandemic response guides, to classic fan favorites. Check out the list below for literary recommendations from the PolSource team!
Iain M Banks – “Matter”
In a world renowned even within a galaxy full of wonders, a crime within a war. For one man it means a desperate flight, and a search for the one – maybe two – people who could clear his name. For his brother it means a life lived under constant threat of treachery and murder. And for their sister, even without knowing the full truth, it means returning to a place she’d thought abandoned forever.
Frank Herbert – “Dune Messiah”
The epic, multimillion-selling science-fiction series continues! The second Dune installment explores new developments on the planet Arrakis, with its intricate social order and strange, threatening environment. Dune Messiah picks up the story of the man known as Muad’Dib, heir to a power unimaginable, bringing to fruition an ambition of unparalleled scale: the centuries-old scheme to create a superbeing who reigns not in the heavens but among men. But the question is: DO all paths of glory lead to the grave?
Ben Rich – “Skunk Works”
From the development of the U-2 to the Stealth fighter, the never-before-told story behind America’s high-stakes quest to dominate the skies. Skunk Works is the true story of America’s most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation’s brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the chronicle of Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works is a drama of Cold War confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds. Here are up-close portraits of the maverick band of scientists and engineers who made the Skunk Works so renowned. Filled with telling personal anecdotes and high adventure, with narratives from the CIA and from air force pilots who flew the many classified, risky missions, this book is a riveting portrait of the most spectacular aviation triumphs of the 20th century.
David Epstein – “The Sports Gene”
We all knew a star athlete in high school. The one who made it look so easy. He was the starting quarterback and shortstop; she was the all-state point guard and high-jumper. Naturals. Or were they? The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training? The truth is far messier than a simple dichotomy between nature and nurture. In the decade since the sequencing of the human genome, researchers have slowly begun to uncover how the relationship between biological endowments and a competitor’s training environment affects athleticism. Sports scientists have gradually entered the era of modern genetic research. In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle.
Simon Singh – “Fermat’s Last Theorem”
‘I have a truly marvellous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.’
It was with these words, written in the 1630s, that Pierre de Fermat intrigued and infuriated the mathematics community. For over 350 years, proving Fermat’s Last Theorem was the most notorious unsolved mathematical problem, a puzzle whose basics most children could grasp but whose solution eluded the greatest minds in the world. In 1993, after years of secret toil, Englishman Andrew Wiles announced to an astounded audience that he had cracked Fermat’s Last Theorem. He had no idea of the nightmare that lay ahead. In ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ Simon Singh has crafted a remarkable tale of intellectual endeavour spanning three centuries, and a moving testament to the obsession, sacrifice and extraordinary determination of Andrew Wiles: one man against all the odds.
Simon Singh – “The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-breaking”
From the best-selling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem, The Code Book is a history of man’s urge to uncover the secrets of codes, from Egyptian puzzles to modern day computer encryptions. As in Fermat’s Last Theorem, Simon Singh brings life to an anstonishing story of puzzles, codes, languages and riddles that reveals man’s continual pursuit to disguise and uncover, and to work out the secret languages of others. Codes have influenced events throughout history, both in the stories of those who make them and those who break them. The betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots and the cracking of the enigma code that helped the Allies in World War II are major episodes in a continuing history of cryptography. In addition to stories of intrigue and warfare, Simon Singh also investigates other codes, the unravelling of genes and the rediscovery of ancient languages and most tantalisingly, the Beale ciphers, an unbroken code that could hold the key to a $20 million treasure.
Robert M Pirsig – “Lila An Inquiry into Morals”
The author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance examines life’s essential issues as he recounts the journey down the Hudson River in a sailboat of his philosopher-narrator Phaedrus.
Grace Blakeley – “Stolen – How to Save The World From Financialisation”
A must-read polemic about why the ‘recovery’ from the 2007-08 crash mostly benefited the 1%, and how democratic socialism can save us from a new crash and climate catastrophe. For decades, it has been easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.
Anonymous – “A Warning”
#1 New York Times and #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller: An unprecedented behind-the-scenes portrait of the Trump presidency from the anonymous senior official whose first words of warning about the president rocked the nation’s capital.
Richard Dawkin – “Outgrowing God”
Deeply impressed by the beauty and complexity of living things, he’d felt certain they must have had a designer. Learning about evolution changed his mind. Now one of the world’s best and best-selling science communicators, Dawkins has given listeners, young and old, the same opportunity to rethink the big questions. In 12 fiercely funny, mind-expanding chapters, Dawkins explains how the natural world arose without a designer – the improbability and beauty of the “bottom-up programming” that engineers an embryo or a flock of starlings – and challenges head-on some of the most basic assumptions made by the world’s religions: Do you believe in God? Which one? Is the Bible a “Good Book”? Is adhering to a religion necessary, or even likely, to make people good to one another? Dissecting everything from Abraham’s abuse of Isaac to the construction of a snowflake, Outgrowing God is a concise, provocative guide to thinking for yourself.
Ray Dalio – “Principles”
Ray Dalio, one of the world’s most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he’s developed, refined, and used over the past forty years to create unique results in both life and business—and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.
Madeleine Albright – “Fascism a Warning”
A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state.
James Clear – “Atomic Habits”
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving – every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.
Stephen King – “The Stand”
This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death. And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides – or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail – and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
David Abbott – “How to Price Your Platypus”
Your guide to the strategy and tactics of pricing for profit; a handbook of pricing tools to maximise your price!
Stephen King – “The Long Walk”
In the near future, when America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Among them is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty, and he knows the rules—keep a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings and you’re out—permanently.
Carl Zafon – “The Shadow of the Wind”
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
Douglas Adams – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space.
Chuck Palahniuk – “Fight Club”
Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation’s most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club’s estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basements of bars. There, two men fight “as long as they have to.” This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.
Terry Pratchett – “Going Postal”
A splendid send-up of government, the postal system, and everything that lies in between in this newest entry in Terry Pratchett’s internationally bestselling Discworld series.
Alex Ferguson with Michael Moritz – “Leading”
From the winningest soccer coach ever, best known for 27 triumphant years with Manchester United, comes the book that decodes the key tools he used to deliver sustained success on and off the field.
J.R.R. Tolkien – “The Hobbit”
Like every other hobbit, Bilbo Baggins likes nothing better than a quiet evening in his snug hole in the ground, dining on a sumptuous dinner in front of a fire. But when a wandering wizard captivates him with tales of the unknown, Bilbo becomes restless. Soon he joins the wizard’s band of homeless dwarves in search of giant spiders, savage wolves, and other dangers. Bilbo quickly tires of the quest for adventure and longs for the security of his familiar home. But before he can return to his life of comfort, he must face the greatest threat of all – a treasure-troving dragon named Smaug.
Margaret Davis – “Vizsla – The Complete Owners Guide”
This book covers everything that you need to know to successfully care for and understand this Gundog/sporting dog.
Guy Martin – “Worms to Catch”
In his brand-new book, discover how Britain’s favourite daredevil filled his time when road racing was taken out of the equation. He set about breaking records on the world’s biggest Wall of Death, cycling 2,745 miles across the length of the United States (while sleeping rough), attempting to be the fastest person ever on two wheels and travelling to Latvia to investigate his family’s roots. There’s some thrilling racing, too, including wild Harley choppers on dirt and turbo-charged Transit vans through the Nevada desert. And there’s the day job to get back to in North Lincolnshire – the truck yard and the butty van.
Shaa Wasmund – “Stop Talking – Start Doing”
A motivational kick in the pants to get the most out of your life
Have you got an itch? To start your own business, go to the North Pole, retrain, lose weight, get promoted, learn to play the ukulele? Or do you just have a nagging sense that there must be more to life? If there is something you really want to do, but secretly fear you’ll never do it then you need this book.
Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith, Trish Papadakos – “Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want (Strategyzer)”
Value Proposition Design helps you tackle the core challenge of every business ― creating compelling products and services customers want to buy. This highly practical book, paired with its online companion, will teach you the processes and tools you need to create products that sell.
Parents as Teachers National Center, Inc. – “Foundation Training & Curriculum”
In our three-day Foundational Training, parent educators and other family support professionals learn to use the Foundational Curriculum effectively as they work with families to partner, facilitate, and reflect. Both the training and curriculum cover children’s growth and development from before birth through age three.
David Thomas and Andrew Hunt – “The Pragmatic Programmer”
The Pragmatic Programmer is one of those rare tech books you’ll read, re-read, and read again over the years. Whether you’re new to the field or an experienced practitioner, you’ll come away with fresh insights each and every time.
We hope you find our reading list inspiring – stay busy and stay safe!