4. Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang by Jonathan Green
To finally kill off Johnson’s ‘harmless drudge’ calumny, here is a modern dictionary that is the work of a real human being. Green’s book goes further, deeper and wider than any other record of slang and manages to combine unimpeachable historical scholarship with the appropriate wit and raciness. (apparently ‘gooseberry bush’ was a 19th century euphemism for pubic hair). The OED of the street.
5. 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.
6. 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.