As you've probably figured out by now, I spend a decent amount of time on planes traveling for work, for PASS, and for speaking engagements.  Although I spend a lot of time on the plane working, I also spend a lot of time doing a few other things.  First, I sleep a lot – don’t get enough of that at home!  Second, I like to write letters.  Yes, I write actual long-hand letters.  I write mostly to my aging relatives who consider email to be the latest work of the devil.  But I also write to friends and family simply because I think there’s something special about someone actually putting pen to paper on your behalf.  Finally, I read a lot of the plan, mostly during “tarmac-time” when you’re not allowed to use your laptop.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

My favorite genres are historic fiction and non-fiction.  So here’s what’s on my list:

-          “The Instance of the Fingerpost” by Iain Pears: This tale of political and religious intrigue is set in the 17th century and told from the view point of four different characters.  I didn’t get hooked by the story until I got into the middle of the second character’s story, which was so different and yet so well-connected to the first character’s story that I realized I’d have to read to the end to finally solve the mystery.

-          “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond:  Jared Diamond is one of my favorite non-fiction writers.  He’s extremely insightful, well researched, easy to understand, and asks the big questions that are so hard to answer.  In this book, Diamond asks the intriguing question of “Why did some of the world’s most successful civilizations, such as the Incas, Maoris, and Aztecs, fall to tiny and easily-defeated forces of Westerners?”   The answers may surprise you.

-          “The Botany of Desire” by Michael Pollan: Pollan posits an interesting idea – Who is manipulating whom?  People tend to think of themselves as the intelligent master of the plant world via agriculture.  But Pollan uses four examples from the plant kingdom to show that they’ve manipulated mankind into cultivating millions, even trillions more of their kind throughout the earth.

-          “The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics” by Chas S. Clifton: This is a somewhat dry read because it is an encyclopedic reference to heresies encountered by the Roman Catholic Christian church from the time of Christ until the time of the Reformation.  Nevertheless, I found the variety and doctrines of the many heretical movements to be sometimes surprising, sometimes intriguing, and always very interesting.

Let me know what you think!  Thanks,

-Kevin