Dan Brown is the author of Digital Fortress (St. Martins Press, $15). His most recent novel, The Da Vinci Code (Doubleday, $25), debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list.
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter (Basic Books, $22). Im the son of a mathematician and a musician, so these interrelations were right up my alley. 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 dessert.
Codes, Ciphers & Other Cryptic & Clandestine Communication by Fred Wrixon (Black Dog & Leventhal, $18). 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 (The Penguin Group, $8). 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 (out of print). John Langdon is one of the worlds true artistic geniuses. This book, in addition to being wonderfully entertaining, changed the way I think about symmetry, symbols, 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 (Atria, $4). I didnt 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