The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This book has come with very high recommendations from several people I’ve met while travelling. Earlier this year I heard that a big-budget movie was being developed based on the book and knowing Hollywood’s terrible track record for movie adaptations, I definitely wanted to read the book before any movie came out. While short at under 180 pages, the book certainly lived up to its expectations. The plot centers around the journey of a boy as he journeys in search of a treasure in Egypt. Along the way he meets many interesting characters and learns some important lessons about life. An excellent read, highly recommended.
The Future of an Illusion By Sigmund Freud (1927) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Future_of_an_Illusion)
James Strachey 1961 Translation
An excellent essay by Freud on the nature of religion and why it is needed (for now) to ensure the survival of civilization. Although this was written in German originally, even in English the ideas presented are integrated into a beautiful smooth structural flow. Freud is able to predict many of the criticisms the reader may develop and address them. Perhaps Freud’s biggest strength is his ability to logically take on subjects which to this day are somewhat taboo in society (eg. People’s fear of death).
Slipping into Paradise: Why I Live in New Zealand By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
An interesting book comparing life and society in New Zealand with the rest of the world.
A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer By George Johnson
A generalized introduction to quantum computers, the problems where they would succeed over classical computers, and some of the algorithms developed for these problems.
Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms By Wil Mccarthy
Perhaps a bit old now, this book gives an overview of the research being done towards the goal of creating a type of programmable matter which would allow us to fully control a variety of properties normally in the hands of nature.