• Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson: The nerd gets the girl. What’s not to like?
  • The System of the World by Neal Stephenson: The scene (and particularly the lead up to) where Yevgeny attacks Peter the Great in the coffee house remains my favourite piece of prose… ever!
  • Science: A History by John Gribbin: A perfect rainy afternoon companion. My terrible memory means that each time I read it, I get to revel in new discovery.
  • Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: You may feel this is too obvious, but I’ve never claimed to be original. These greats are greats for a reason – they’re great. (You’re welcome to read the last bit aloud as Tony.)
  • Endurance by Alfred Lansing: I find the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition amazing. The team’s determination in the face of serious hardship is inspiring. I can’t help feeling that Shackleton must have had magic charisma.
  • The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien: In particular I am utterly moved by the story of ‘The Sons of Feanor’, which highlights the way that rational, loving and intelligent people can become blinded by a sense of duty that has ultimately been built on foundations of pure folly. (Luckily there’s none of that in the world today.)
  • Consider Phelbus / Excession / The Player of Games by Iain M Banks: All of Iain M Banks’ books are wonderful. These particular three are my favourites, but I am filled by wonder with all of them. It is a terrible shame that these stories came to an end too soon.