5 July 2009

The Best Used Bookstore in The World? Maybe!

Posted by Dan Satterfield

While in Portland, Oregon for a Climate seminar and weather conference last month, I was told that I MUST visit Powell’s books.

I’m glad I did.

It has to be one of the best bookstores around. My daughter swears that Shakespeare Books in Paris is better, but I have not been in that one. Still, if you are in either city, take this as a hearty recommendation!


Powell's Books in Portland Oregon. Portland has a great light rail system.

Powell’s is huge with stacks of books on any subject. Their science collection is exceedingly excellent. My friend Jim Gandy who does on air weather in Columbia South Carolina (exc person-forecaster, you folks in Columbia are very lucky.) found a rare Meteorological text, and had it sent home by mail. My friend Bob Henson of NCAR found a great book on cloud identification.  Luckily they had another copy. Guess who has it! (I suspect with one hundred weather geeks in town, their Meteorology section has been thinned somewhat!)

Bob Henson wrote “THE ROUGH GUIDE TO WEATHER” and The ROUGH GUIDE TO CLIMATE CHANGE“. Both fabulous books. They have them at Powell’s. (It’s kind of weird being in a bookstore and seeing books written by people you know. I spotted four titles in weather written by friends and acquaintances!)

Even with the rapid spread of Kindles, and reading on your i-Touch etc, there is still something comfortable about reading an “old fashioned” book! I have read some really good ones recently, and have been planning a post to tell you about them. This is it…

I have already mentioned The Rough Guide books, but the other book I picked up is THE CLOUD BOOK by Richard Hamblyn. It was published in association with the UK Met. Office and has gorgeous photos. If you do not know the difference between a cumulus and an arcus, this book is for you. It would make a great birthday present for young person interested in Science. (Do it before their brains melt over guys/girls as the case may be- they will pick it back up after their hormones settle down.)

IMG_2321SIX EASY PIECES by the late Richard Feynman is also a must read. Also his THE PLEASURE OF FINDING THINGS OUT. I kick myself that I have just read it in my 49th year. Surely Feynman was one of the greatest minds in Physics of the twentieth century. Perhaps ANY century. If you appreciate Science, you will love Feynman. If you do not, you will after reading his other book. SURELY YOU ARE JOKING MR. FEYNMAN.(I have Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY on my bed stand, and I should have read that before now as well!)

Gavin Schmidt is another very smart person. He is a NASA Climate Scientist. His book along with Photographer Joshua Wilde has received rave reviews. Gorgeous pics and a look at climate change for non scientists and scientists alike. CLIMATE CHANGE-PICTURING THE SCIENCE is the title.

My biggest surprise of the Summer so far, was a book by Richard Dawkins I grabbed off the shelf. THE OXFORD BOOK OF MODERN SCIENCE WRITING is just an all around fascinating read. Everything from Carl Sagan to Evolutionary Biology is covered. The book has excerpts from dozens of the best minds in science.

For those who are not afraid of a little math and some thinking, David Archer’s book GLOBAL WARMING- UNDERSTANDING THE FORECAST is one of my faves. I am re-reading it now. Archer has one of my favourite quotes about the politics of his subject. “The target audience of denialism is the lay audience. It’s made to look like science, but it’s PR“. This is posted on Jules Klimaat Blog which is always a good read. (Mentioned in my blog on the Oregon Institute of Science)

I encounter this dressed up science that’s really PR frequently. Calling it out is one reason I started writing this blog. The other is to learn something new. I force myself to write about things I know little about sometimes. It’s  great way to learn! I am not a fan of Summer, and I count the days until September and the blue skies and dry air of autumn. One way I survive is to hole up in my bedroom, turn the AC on high, and READ. It’s not a bad way to escape the heat. Who knows, I bet I learn something too.

Vive Le Tour De France!


PS just go to Amazon, or your favourite online book dealer and you can find al of these books.