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If you could have only ten books on your shelf

  1. Jul 26, 2012 #1
    Hello Physics Forum!

    First off I would like to say hello! I have been hanging in the shadows for a couple of months but it is time to introduce myself. I'm an engineering physics student at UBC in British columbia and have an interest in math, phsics, and engineering - which leads me to the reason I started this thread...

    If your collection of books were to be reduced to ten books or less and you could pick any books you like, what would they be? They don't have to be a science or math oriented books, just leave a short description of why it earns a place on your shelf if the title doesn't say enough. I'll start off.

    1) How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
    2) The Art of War - Sun Tzu
    3) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Steven Covey

    I chose these three because they are good all around books on day to day life.

    4) Calculus Early Transcendentals - James Stewart
    5) Contemporary Linear Algebra - Howard Anton, the first year LA book I used (any other recommendations for a LA book?)
    6) The Nuts and Bolts of Proofs - Antonella Cupillari, a simple intro to proofs led by example

    I am sure there are others but can't think of any right now but let's see what everyone else has to say.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2012 #2
    I don't like the question. Why do we only get ten books? Are we in prison? On a ship to Mars? In a bunker waiting for the radiation to clear? I can't think of a good scenario where we're reduced to ten books. If space is limited why can't we have ebooks?
  4. Jul 26, 2012 #3


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    Zoob, just how many shelves does your brush shelter have? Is it even waterproof?

    I own approximately 2,000 books, and some of the ones that I would choose for my "bucket list" collection aren't even among them. Of those that I do own, my Oxford dictionary would be #1. Second would be "Practical Everyday Chemistry", which was misappropriated by someone about 15 years ago. (I don't think that he did it on purpose, because he left me a garbageload of university texts and baseball caps when he left. It just got lost in translation.) That was one hell of a reference manual, though. It gave complete formulae for everything from horse liniment to high explosives. The publication date was somewhere in the late 1800's. Jeez, but I miss that book. OH... I just remembered that I have a mint copy of CIL's "Blaster's Handbook". I've picked up an idea or two from that over the years.
  5. Jul 26, 2012 #4


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    Before answering such a question, I would have to at the very least, sample the libraries of Alexandria and Egypt many thousands of years ago.
  6. Jul 26, 2012 #5


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    In a post-apocalypse scenario I'd go for this, these and (whilst not a book) will be wearing this:

  7. Jul 26, 2012 #6
    This reminds me of the BBC radio programme called Desert Island Discs.In each programme a celebrity is asked to choose eight pieces of music they could take if castaway on an imaginary desert island.Sections of the musical choices are played and the celebrity is interviewed.The programme is very succesful and has been running since the early1940s.
  8. Jul 26, 2012 #7
    I love this forum, 3 answers none providing lists of books.
    I'll just stick with ye old stuck on an island story and pick 10 books I enjoy.
    1. Hitchikers guide to the galaxy (trilogy) in one book, (Douglas Adams)
    2. The official scrabble dictionary.
    3. Anathem (Neil Stephenson), because I haven't read it yet.
    4. Diamond Age (Neil Stephenson)
    5. Singularity Sky (Charles Stross)
    6. Survivor (Chuck Palahnuik)
    7. I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)
    8. Blackburn (Bradley Denton)
    9. A book that I will for sure think of after I hit reply.
    10. A book entitled, how to get off an island.
  9. Jul 26, 2012 #8
    Now, define ##\mbox{B}_{O}\mbox{}^\mathbf{O}\boldsymbol{k}=n \mbox{book}##, where ##n## is an arbitary number which is up to the reader. My answer to this question is left as an exercise to the reader :)
  10. Jul 27, 2012 #9


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    Great question, lousy rules, so I'm going to cheat a bit. In no specific order:

    1) The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Strand Facsimilie Edition) - can read over and over again - (and it counts as one book)
    2) Richard Dawkins "gene" trilogy (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker) - gave me the only credible reason as to why I exist - (gaffer tape the spines together and it counts as one book)
    3) Heinemann Octopus Selected Works of John Wyndham - can read over and over again - (one book)
    4) Aho + Ullmans Principles of Complier Construction - book for one of my favourite courses on my degree
    5) E. E. Smiths Lensman and Skylark series double boxset - for the lost childlike wonder I had reading them when I was eleven - (gaffer tape the boxsets together into one book)
    6) A Childrens poetry book that one of my sons has a poem published in - proud
    7) System 370 JCL - was very useful and memories of working life being much much simpler
    8) Wikipedia
    9) International Children's Bible: New Century Version - a clear translation from the most original sources

    Desert Island Discs allows you to have The Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Koran as well as your choice of book. So I would like Rodwells Koran and Shakespeare and my final choice would be:

    10) "A Peoples History of England in the time of Shakespeare" - if such a thing even exists. Then I could read Shakespeare and gain a better understanding and enjoyment of his writing.

    Apologies for trampling all over the rules.
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