The two Johns came up with a top 10 list of books for the sort of person who would enjoy a show like "QI." Here are a few titles from their list:
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane AckermanTo read the six other quite interesting titles, click here.
A simple idea - using an examination of each of our five senses to tell the history of our species - but perfectly realised. Ackerman is a poet and naturalist: both find their outlet here. Whether she's explaining why the Empress Josephine used violet perfume, exploring our craving for chocolate or describing the launch of a space shuttle, Ackerman changes the way we see, hear, feel and taste the world.
Labyrinths of Reason by William Poundstone
Subtitled 'Paradoxes, Puzzles and the Frailty of Knowledge', this is a profound and endlessly fascinating collection of philosophical experiments that leave the reader unable to settle back into old and lazy ways of thinking. Poundstone is a sceptic in the richest sense of the term and whether he's writing on Sherlock Holmes or parallel worlds, his writing remains sparklingly clear and accessible. Dental floss for the brain.
Thought As A System by David Bohm
Another mind-expanding book about thinking. Bohm was a leading quantum physicist and worked on the Manhattan project. He became a close friend of the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti and this book is a record of Bohm's seminars where he reviewed their work together. It is a genuinely visionary meeting of east and west and of philosophy with spirituality and politics. Anyone who worries about our future needs to read it.
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
After a hard day in the library, there's nothing quite like an hour's drawing to unravel mental knots. For 20 years this book has been quietly teaching people, still terrorised by their memories of school art classes, that they can draw. It is clear, unpatronising and in the space of a day the results are remarkable. Nobody ever regrets learning to draw. A classic that actually does change your life for the better.