William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 30, March, 2010

Ten Books

Filed under: Blogania,Books — williamthecoroner @ 17:08

Zeusie see, Zeusie do,

  • Up Front—Bill Mauldin.  Bill was a soldier’s soldier.  He was a draftee, and was in for the duration.  He did his job while he was in, but he didn’t mess around, and he didn’t worry about politics.  He got cross-threaded with George Patton—GEN Patton was a true believer, and wanted everyone to support the war all out.  Mauldin was just as patriotic, but did not go for the rah-rah propaganda.  Some things sucked and he was willing to say so.  There was a party one night for the brass on a ship.  The portholes had to be blocked out for the blackout.  Mauldin was hired to decorate them, and he put the faces of Willie and Joe—dirty, tired, disheveled dogfaces, peering in at the party, as a reminder of the common man.
  • Use of Weapons—Iain M. Banks.  A study of a remarkable man, a military savant, one who can turn anything into a weapon at need.  Proving once again that there are no such things as dangerous weapons, only dangerous people.
  • Tempest—William Shakespeare.  I played Prospero once.  I do identify with a character who loves his library more than anything else.  This play is the first “Revenge of the Nerds” but forgiveness and compassion supplants malice and revenge.
  • Starship Troopers.—Robert Heinlein.  Heinlein can write a good story, it also is a good exploration of duty and honour and human rights and obligations that is accessible.  The first time I read it I didn’t get it—it needed some digesting.
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!–Richard Feynman. Showed me the way to be an academic, and an iconoclast.  He was always curious, always looking, and never let lack of knowledge slow him down.  He also got me interested in security and lock-picking
  • Broca’s Brain—One of the first books on brain science I read, and it really sparked my interest.  Different parts of the brain do different things.  Not really a surprising statement, but it has given me something to do for a long time.
  • The Complete Annotated Sherlock HolmesA. Conan Doyle.  Doyle distorts space and time (or you could evidently get around Victorian Britan more efficiently than I can get around Atomic-age Cleveland) and people always act according to their class, station, and occupation in life.  But his principles of observation and correlation with previously observed facts are still useful.
  • Down In The Zero—Andrew Vachss.  A surprising amount of philosophy can be found in crime fiction.  Vachss has strong opinions on what makes a man, and how life should be lived.  There is also a strong theme that one should consider the source carefully before using it as a guide for your actions in his work.
  • Early Autumn—Robert B. Parker. A surprising amount of philosophy can be found in crime fiction.  Parker, too has strong opinions on what makes a man, and how life should be lived.  Again, this author believes in personal responsibility, and taking ownership of your actions.
  • Reaper Man—Terry Pratchett.  Another author who camouflages his philosophy in light entertainment.  It is wise to pay attention to the lines that he gives to the character Death.  They usually are important

The problem with these lists, particularly ones dashed off the top of my head like this, is that I will leave something out.  Narrowing it down to ten is artificial, and by definition incomplete.  But these books have shaped and influenced me, certainly.  What books have changed you?  Leave a comment or post it on your own blog.


  1. I was tempted to mention Use of Weapons or Excession, but neither one quite seemed to stack up. Reaper Man is an astute choice; Carpe Jugulum might also have worked for me. If I have to grow up, I want to be like Sam Vimes.

    Comment by bluntobject — Tuesday, 30, March, 2010 @ 17:21 | Reply

  2. What is bad is that I have read 8 of the 10… sigh…

    Comment by Old NFO — Tuesday, 30, March, 2010 @ 22:37 | Reply

  3. Six out of ten. Soon will be seven out of ten when my copy of Use of Weapons arrives in a few days.

    Comment by Crucis — Wednesday, 31, March, 2010 @ 12:57 | Reply

  4. “Bugles and a Tiger” and “With The Old Breed.” I don’t know if they changed me but these are the only books I can think of that I can and do re-read (well, these and anything by Jane Austen).

    Comment by Shay — Wednesday, 31, March, 2010 @ 19:41 | Reply

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