Books I warmly recommend
Science and religion
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
This is one of the greatest and most stiumlating book I ever laid my eyes on. This witty, clearly written, elegant,
funny, entertaining and mind-opener work should be read by everyone, especially by ignorant and dangerous
fundamentalists of every type of religion. Each page is a delight, full of clever comparisons that sheds
light on the real meaning of science and religion. Read it, think about it, and share your
experience with others.
Richard Dawkins is a great scientist (remember "The Selfish Gene"?) who has
demonstrated throughout his career the power (and the limits) of cool, hard reason to explain life itself.
The Naked Ape, Desmond Morris
This is one my all-time favorite books. It is clear, concise and gives a fascinating zoologist
perspective on the human being. It made me understand that man is what he is because
he collaborated with each other. Without this solidarity, he could not have survived and
competed with other species at the time when, around 5 millions years ago, we got
down from the trees, started to eat mostly meat (instead of fruits), lost our body hair and
started to walk upright most of the time. Solidarity is in our genes, it is our profound nature.
We should love and help each other, not because someone told us to do so some 2000 years
ago, but because it is what we are. In that sense, it is truly unnatural to be
selfish and individualistic. Few species have the level of collaboration that
we have in our modern societies. Unfortunately, it seems that (in my region at least)
people don't care much about solidarity any more, just think about how people feel about
paying health insurance (based on a solidarity system) and taxes...
Nevertheless some people have perfectly understood it: "We are visitors on
this planet. We are here for 90 or 100 years at the very most. During that period,
we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. Try to be at peace
with yourself, and help others share that peace. If you contribute to other peoples'
happiness, you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life." (Tenzin Gyatso, Fourteenth
Dalai Lama, "My Tibet")
Les rois maudits, Maurice Druon
This one is probably my favorite historical novel, fun to read and historically accurate.
The author managed to give such humanity to the historical figures that the reader
can easily "fall in love" with some of them. I did.
Mémoires d'Hadrien, Marguerite Yourcenar
On his deathbed, the emperor Hadrian tells the story of his life. Hadrian was the Roman
Emperor who brought the Greek cultural heritage (art, philosophy, etc) into the Roman culture.
This book is so well written, that it happened to me (more than once) to stop in awe after a
particularly beautiful sentence and read it again.
Les bienveillantes, Jonathan Littell
gives a whole new perspective on the second world war. Crude but beautiful, extremely
well written in french. Remarkable.
Les croisades vues par les Arabes, Amin Maalouf
very interesting and unusual perspective.
Science fiction novels
Dune, Frank Herbert
This is certainly my all-time favorite science fiction series. I must admit I read it
when I was a teenager (who knows what I would think of it today), but I was mostly
fascinated by the intricate geo-political games amongst the various contendents for power.
I liked it so much that I read everything Frank Herbert has ever written and that I
could lay my hands on (around 14 novels).
Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
Breathtaking story of an dramatic expedition to Mt Everest. Brilliant.
Dans le désordre
Patrick Suskind: Le parfum, La contrebasse
John Fante: Les compagnons de la grappe
Barjavel: Merlin l'enchanteur, La nuit des temps, L'immortalité
Mikhaïl Boulgakov: Le maître et Marguerite
Jean Cocteau: Les enfants terribles
Luis Sepulveda: Le vieux qui lisait des romans d'amour
Paul Auster: New York trilogy
Italo Calvino: Il cavaliere inesistante
Cordwainer Smith: Les seigneurs de l'instrumentalité (The instrumentality of Mankind)