The Magical Maze: seeing the world through mathematical eyes
by Ian Stewart
"Enter the magical maze of mathematics and explore the surprising passageways of a fantastical world where logic and imagination converge. For mathematics is a maze - a maze in your head - a maze of ideas, a maze of logic."This book is the basis for the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures of 1997 presented by the author. It has mostly familiar content (familiar to me, anyway) like the Monty Hall problem in the chapter about probability, and stuff about chaos and fractals. Some was new, particularly a chapter about why different four-legged animals have different gait, i.e. move their four limbs in a different order when walking/running. Despite the slightly weird story-like interludes between chapters, it is science that is well-explained without being patronising.
by Rebecca Chance
"Step into Limehouse Wharf, the new, uber-luxury apartment building where Melody Down, an actress whose career is in tatters after too much plastic surgery has holed up to get her body and her boyfriend back. Aniela Jasicki, the nurse in residence, finds herself falling for the unlikely Jon Jordan, an assassin for hire who is also convalescing there."Eleventh of my 12 Books of Christmas, and even the author describes it as a bonkbuster, so my expectations were low - but they were exceeded, as the writing was good and I can't complain that there was too much sex in it, given the genre. Obviously I won't be reading any more of her work if I can help it, but if you like that sort of thing, it's better than any of the others I've been subjected to since winning these 12 books. At the time I was pleased to have won, but my life has not been enhanced by the experience. Only one more to go, and it's a hardback, although I don't quite know what difference that will make.
Salvation of a Saint
by Keigo Higashino
"When a man is discovered dead by poisoning in his empty home his beautiful wife, Ayane, immediately falls under suspicion. All clues point to Ayane being the logical suspect, but how could she have committed the crime when she was hundreds of miles away?"I read this one in just a day, mainly because I knew the truth would only be revealed at the end, and I couldn't bear to wait. It isn't as good as the first one (The Devotion of Suspect X) but still head and shoulders above other modern crime thrillers that I've read.
Dr Bradley Remembers
by Francis Brett Young
"John Bradley, aged seventy-five in 1937, reflects on fifty years as a general practitioner in Sedgebury in the Black Country, after being trained at North Bromwich Medical School. In the days before the National Health Service, he reveals how precarious the rewards of a practice could be and the parts played by chance and determination."Based on a medical practice in a Black Country town from the 19th to early 20th century, the story covers the doctor's life including his marriage and the raising of his son, the growth of coal mining and the expansion of the small town into an industrial centre. It was easy to read, and quite an interesting historical account of 'medicine' as practised in rural England. The copy I have was given to my father as a prize at school - I don't know if he remembers reading it, perhaps he will comment?