What are your five favorite books and why?
Voyage of the Beagle — Charles Darwin. The most important natural history travel-adventure book ever written.
The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914 — David McCullough. It demonstrates that persistence is the most important human characteristic against nearly impossible problems.
A Town Like Alice — Nevil Shute. An epic story of love, adventure and overcoming great odds that reflects the character of Outback Australia.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams. Hilariously clever, satirical science fiction full of useful information such as don’t panic and bring a towel.
Kon-Tiki — Thor Heyerdahl. Rousing true adventure story of great courage at sea.
What genre of literature do you prefer to read (history, fiction, biography, etc.) and why?
For my scientific professional life I must read so much nonfiction and natural history that I seek escape in audio books of murder mysteries and spy novels while I am driving. I do about 30 audio books/year just going back and forth to my office. Books by Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Ken Follett, etc., are my escape, and I would never take the time to read them if it were not for audio format.
Who is your favorite character (villain or hero) in literature?
Dave Robicheaux, the Cajun homicide detective in James Lee Burke books set in Louisiana.
What is the last book you’ve bought?
Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought — Pascal Boyer.
What “important book” have you not read and why haven’t you read it?
Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger. There is always something else I must read, and I never got around to it.
What classic novel was a disappointment to you?
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man — James Joyce. (It is unreadable, like Waiting for Godot.)
What magazines do you subscribe to and why?
Science, Discover, Scientific American, National Geographic, Consumer Reports, Car & Driver, Popular Photography. To keep current in those areas.
What books have helped you most in your career?
Zoogeography — P.J. Darlington.
Vertebrates of the United States — Blair, Blair, Brodkorb, Gagle and Moore.
Half-Mile Down — William Beebe.
Understand Evolution — E. Peter Volpe.
The Blind Watchmaker — Richard Dawkins.
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