My 10 Favorite Books: James Dyson
From the New York Times, by Sir James Dyson
“Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit,” Mort Rosenblum
Rosenblum is a fearless Associated Press reporter who loves olive trees. He then wrote a book on the global production of olive oil that I couldn’t put down. We arranged to meet when we discovered that we each lived and grew olive trees very close to each other in the Var in Provence. It’s not every day one gets to meet an author he admires.
“The Story of Design,” Charlotte and Peter Fiell
Design historians Charlotte and Peter Fiell take a journey through the earliest forms of design. Through dynamic illustrations, this history of design stretches over the centuries.
“English Culture and the Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980,” Martin Wiener
It took an American academic to research and diagnose this British class snobbishness about the activity of manufacturing. Astonishingly, it is more acceptable for the educated classes to go into banking or insurance rather than dirty their hands making things.
“The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America,” Eric Idle
An alternative autobiography by Monty Python’s most creative member, Eric Idle. An honest and close-to-the-bone review of his life penned traveling on a tour bus, crisscrossing North America. “The Greedy Bastard” turns out to be warm-hearted, loving and highly intelligent. Would that all writers had his hunger for knowledge and wit in parody.
“The Sketchbooks of Chris Wilkinson,” Chris Wilkinson
Despite being at the forefront of high-tech innovation in architecture, Wilkinson still uses drawing as a way to think through ideas, to grapple with design problems and as a tool for communication. Many of the drawings were done with a small set of watercolors (mixed with gin?) while traveling on airplanes.
“The Works: Anatomy of a City,” Kate Ascher
A book which artfully unveils the hidden engineering that makes Manhattan tick — from where rubbish goes to how traffic lights are synched to avoid thousands of daily collisions.
“Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100,” Michio Kaku
Kaku’s a physicist by trade and offers mind-bending predictions about scientific progress over the next 100 years, from Internet-accessible contact lenses to robots that display real emotions. An interesting look into how things like nanotechnology could change how we interact with the devices in our home, making them smarter, more efficient.
“Stuff and Nonsense,” Logie Bruce-Lockhart
Nobody could have had a kinder and wiser headmaster than I. At the age of 92, he decided to write his fascinating autobiography. He was a young officer in the British army advancing into Germany at the end of the war.
“Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation,” Frans Johansson
Breakthrough inventions hardly ever come from completely new ideas, but rather from the application of a concept from one field to another. The cyclonic vacuum cleaner was inspired by the way industrial cyclones spun dust and dirt out of the air. To be creative, Johansson argues you need to push the boundaries, ask questions and not be afraid of failure. Something Dyson engineers understand.
“The Devil in the White City,” Erik Larson
What better a time to set a mystery thriller than during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair — the birthplace for so much American ingenuity. I love Chicago (Dyson’s U.S. headquarters are based there) but I would have truly loved to see it then.