Book roundup: Julian Simon, Brian Aldiss, Norman Doidge, and Ken Follett

Julian Simon - The Ultimate Resource 2

Julian L. Simon – The Ultimate Resource 2 (1981/1996)

This must be how it once felt to read Darwin: If this is correct, it changes everything. Many of Simon’s conclusions are less controversial now than in 1981, but the core idea, the anti-Malthusian algorithm – it’s dynamite. Don’t experience it second-hand.

Recommended: Yes.

Brian Aldiss – Greybeard (1964)

Robbed of its ability to have children, human civilization goes mad, slowly wastes away, and dies singing “Daisy, Daisy” to itself.

Recommended: Yes.

Norman Doidge - The Brain that Changes Itself

Norman Doidge – The Brain That Changes Itself (2007)

Beware/rejoice: Your brain shapes itself by what you use it for. Also: Hey, let’s rethrone Freud!

Recommended: Partly. The science is interesting. The book suffers from anecdotes and “one idea to rule them all” syndrome.

Den Norske Turistforeningens årbok 1950

Peek into the lost world of rural Norway, before it became a zombie culture.

Recommended: Oddly, yes.

Brian Aldiss - Non-Stop

Brian Aldiss – Non-Stop (1958)

The guys in WALL-E had it easy, this generation ship has descended into outright barbarism, and is ruled by a priest caste of psychoanalysts.

Recommended: Yes, though it all falls apart in the end.

Ken Follett – Fall of Giants (2010)

The 20th century told as a novel, written so that even the dimmest of potential readers won’t feel excluded.

Recommended: No.

Instead of this, read: Michael Moorcock’s Between the Wars series.

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