Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Rationale: I wasn't paying very close attention to Our Glorious Ally's Recent Imperial Adventures whilst it was happening. Partly this was because this sort of thing is difficult to piece together when you're reading it on a daily basis in the newspapers and partly because I was busy being a truculent teenager.
Anyway this seems to be the standard text on the subject and will hopefully give me a good grounding in What the Hell Happened.
The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin
Rationale: I enjoyed the discussion of theoretical physics in The Quark and the Jaguar by Murray Gell-Mann, which was published in the early nineties, and I also enjoyed The Sleepwalkers by Arthur Koestler. I really want to find out what's happened since, and what the current state of play is as regards Big Science.
This book was recommended to me by one of my physics teachers a few years ago, and at the time was being serialised in The Times. I skimmed through it a while back in a bookshop and was impressed by the tone and content.
Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers by James F. Shackelford
Rationale: this is one of the set textbooks for the course I am (if everything works out) starting in September (there will be a few of these to come).
Manufacturing Engineering and Technology by Serope Kalpakjian and Steven Schmid
Rationale: Again another set text. I want to have a vague familiarity with the course materials well before the course actually starts. The reason for this is that I learn best when presented with a fairly long runway. I also like the opportunity to become comfortable with a particular textbook layout before using it in earnest.
The End of Politics: New Labour and the Folly of Managerialism by Chris Dillow
Rationale: This book is much discussed by the likes of Alex Harrowell and Daniel Davis and Dillow's blog is quite superb. If his book is even half as interesting and engaging as his blog then this will be a worthwhile read.
The Hidden Family by Charles Stross
Rationale: I enjoyed the previous book in this series and since I finished it the sequence has been praised and commented on by Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman. Definitely not one to miss out on.
Foundations of Engineering by Mark T. Holtzapple
Rationale: Another set text!
Mathematics for Engineers: A Modern Interactive Approach by Anthony Croft
Rationale: And again.
Management for Engineers, Scientists and Technologists by John V. Chelsom
Rationale: Same again - nothing to see here.
Traders, Guns and Money: Knowns and Unknowns in the Dazzling World of Derivatives by Satyajit Das
Rationale: I've read Nassim Nicholas Taleb's books,The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, and enjoyed them immensely. However I would like a more in-depth and technical look at all the derivatives, investments, quantitative finance, mortgage-backed securities and other paraphernalia of the ongoing economic troubles.
This book seems to get high reviews and from the brief excerpt on Amazon seem to capture this particular facet of the Zeitgeist rather well.
The Accidental Pornographer: A Story About Having a Go - And Succeeding... in Failing by Gavin Griffiths
Rationale: After reading Paul Carr's enjoyable account of trying and sort of not-quite failing,Bringing Nothing To The Party , I sought out similarly themed books. This looks to be one such in which the eponymous pornographer protagonist tries and fails.
And as an additional bonus he apparently meets none other than my favourite business antihero Felix Dennis!
Against a Dark Background by Iain M Banks
Rationale: Well, I'm reading this at the moment so I've rather jumped the gun as far as rationale goes. It is a spectacularly florid book with titanic set pieces and more Big Dumb Objects than you can shake a space elevator at. Truth be told it could easily gain from content-trimming if you prefer tighter reads, but I've always enjoyed Banks' Banksishness so it's all puppy for the fat as far as I'm concerned.