Dan Brown is the author of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. His new novel, The Lost Symbol, was published in October.
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter. For anyone interested in the interrelation of different sciences and art forms, this book can be used as an eye-opening appetizer, a main course, or a delicious desert. I’m the son of a mathematician and a musician, so the interrelations were right up my alley.
Codes, Ciphers, & Other Cryptic & Clandestine Communication by Fred Wrixon. This is a phenomenal encyclopedia covering the art, science, history, and philosophy of cryptology. From the first Sumerian tablet ciphers to modern-day computer encryption, this illustrated timeline explores hundreds of cryptologic methods in addition to the men and women who developed them. Of particular interest are the battlefield codes used by the American founding fathers during the Revolutionary War.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Simple, suspenseful, and poignant. Better yet, the first paragraph of every chapter is a master class in writing effective description.
Wordplay: Ambigrams and Reflections on the Art of Ambigrams by John Langdon. John Langdon is one of the world’s true artistic geniuses. This book, in addition to being wonderfully entertaining, changed the way I think about symmetry, art and language. Read this, and you will never again look at religious icons or corporate logos in the same way.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. I didn’t understand how funny this play truly was until I became an English teacher and had to teach it. There is no wittier dialogue anywhere.
The Puzzle Palace by James Bamford. Although dated, this book is still one of the most captivating looks inside the cover world of America’s premier intelligence agency, the National Security Agency. Bamford’s description of the longstanding synergy between the U.S. and Britain, who brilliantly exploit a loophole in the law that enables them to spy legally on American and British civilians, is particularly fascinating.