A while back I started listening to audiobooks in the car. It started with books for the whole family and for long journeys. I pay a monthly fee to Audible to use the service and from that I get a “credit” each month to buy a book or audible title.

I have listened to the Percy Jackson series of books after the recommendation of a friend from Coventry and I just about tolerated those books. I am not a fan of the writing style of the author and really struggled to keep interested in those books. By the way, a friend from Coventry is just that, a friend, from Coventry.

I thought it worthwhile to start listening to books when I’m on my own in the car to compliment my podcast selection. I wasn’t really sure about what to read until I heard an advert for The Great Courses on the Scathing Atheist podcast. That made a lot of sense. I don’t necessarily have the time to keep reading books about sciencey stuff but I do tend to have quite a while driving the car. I have a yearning to keep learning, to keep trying to understand the world, all the while safe in the knowledge that when I die all that knowledge and learning will be made pointless from a universal perspective.

I chose to listen to a series of lectures on a subject I knew about to see if I could work with the audio medium. It was a trial series for me to decide if it was worth going with other lecture series.

Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution: Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, 2nd Edition

By: Richard Wolfson, The Great Courses

I really enjoyed the lecture series and I learnt quite a bit about the history of the laws of mechanics. My knowledge from this has even informed my day job. This series of lectures is about twelve hours long in sections of thirty minutes. The whole system worked well.

For my next choice I decided to go for something with world history and also economics. If I could find a series that covers the world’s economy then I would also learn about the history of the world as the two are so perfectly entwined. A long while ago I had listened to the History Of The World In 100 Objects from the BBC and I was fascinated by how much trade is a central part of human success and history. Searching Audible I found the following:

An Economic History of the World since 1400

By: Donald J. Harreld, The Great Courses

It’s a series of lectures just over twenty four hours long. It took me a while to get around to listening to it and then months to get through the whole thing. It was well worth it though. Totally fascinating and perfect as a brief history of humankind along with plenty about the interconnectedness of economic success. I would suggest everyone listens to it. I don’t know enough about economics to know if the lectures are unbiased towards particular policies but my feeling is that all discussions were balanced.

My latest book is:


by Dan Simmons

I have read the paper copy of this book and it amazed me at the time. The whole Hyperion series was a massive operatic exploration of space and humans. I can’t wait to visit the stories again.

Dan Simmons is an author who has really made his mark on me. The first book of his I read was Carrion Comfort. I was in a real horror book phase as a late teenager and his book was a distraction from the standard Stephen King books and the scope of this book amazed me. From this I then read Summer Of Night. At some point I read Hyperion and then the sequels and they are a brilliant selection of science fiction.

Dan Simmons along with Stephen King and Iain M Banks are a few of the authors whose work has made me really challenge myself and think about the grander things in life. All of them are well worth reading. I shall probably devour the rest of the Hyperion series once the book is complete.

The Prologue [cue Up Pompeii sniggers] of Hyperion brought back so many memories and the horror of listening to descriptions of the Shrike! For many years the Shrike was such a figure in my conscious that a tattoo was considered, perhaps that will happen again?


It would appear that if you have no idea what to get someone for Newtonmass then you MUST get a book with 1001 things you must do before you die.


So, 1001 albums would take approximately 85 days worth of listening (daytime only) which is doable. But I’d probably hate most of the music.

There is no way I am going to read 1001 books recommended by someone else. I hardly have enough time to read all the books I want let alone read a load I don’t care for.

Films, yeah whatever.

Comics, maybe, I’ll tell Jase.

1001 Golf Holes – really? There are that many worth playing. Gosh, the world is a little more boring than I originally thought.

Wines and beers, whatever.

Video games, maybe but 1001 of them? Nope.

Guitars, seriously? There have been 1001 guitars that are considered important enough to put into a list Oh, give me strength.

1001 days that shaped the world. I can see that making sense, but I do wonder from whose perspective it is drawn.

Paintings, if they move you then good. If not then they aren’t for you. Relax and don’t care.

Cars and buildings are much like paintings and art, it’s made to move you and ultimately I ain’t going to spend time reading this book.

Look, if you have no idea what to get someone then get them a book telling them there’s too much to do in this pathetic little life that we have on this dying planet.


Magic Page

My #2 son likes reading books. Although that’s a touch inaccurate. Really he likes sitting on someone’s lap and getting them to read a book to him. He’s only 18 months so I think that’s forgivable.
I am pretty sure that he knows something that we don’t though. Whenever I get to the last page of a book he keeps trying to find another page. He scrabbles at the cover and tries to prise another page open. Now normally these are board books and so he can be forgiven for thinking there is another page, but I just ownder if one day a new page will open and create more of a story for him. I’d consider that magic.


Only a short while longer and I will have collected all the Tintin books for my sons to read. I have been buying about two or three every pay day from Amazon for the last 9 months or so and I think I have two more months before I have the complete collection. Unfortunately, I did accidentally buy one in paperback and so I will give that one away and buy it again in hardcover. In all honesty they might be more for me than the kids but I’m sure they’ll read them eventually.
I already have all the Asterix books as I collected them during my sabbatical year when I was at Imperial College. It was the only time as a student that I had any money and I made sure that I didn’t have any by the end of the year. I put on a lot of weight eating in the Union cafe all the time and bought ridiculous things like a lovely Aiwa portable cassette player (remember those?) and a crazy Casio watch that had a thermometer and a barometer built into it. The watch could even do altitude (based on pressure). Now I guess all of my money for gadgets goes into my phone and it does a crazy amount more. Not just two sides of a C90 but a whole two weeks worth of music!
Possibly a bit of a random communication for you and perhaps I should aim to include more outrageous stories from my university days!



Picture of part of my bookshelf. Note the fiction title surrounded by reference books!