Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist at Caltech and the co-author with Stephen Hawking of The Grand Design (Bantam, September 7, 2010). He is the author of The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, as well as Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life and Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace. He also co-authored A Briefer History of Time with Stephen Hawking, and two children's books, The Last Dinosaur and Titanic Cat, with Mat Costello. In addition, he has written for TV series such as Star Trek: the Next Generation and McGyver.
On your nightstand now:
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. Yes, shame on me, I often alternate between books....
Favorite book when you were a child:
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
Your top five authors:
Graham Greene, Raymond Carver, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski.
Book you've faked reading:
The Da Vinci Code. The opening seemed like a cross between a TV action show and a Sherlock Holmes parody. I couldn't get very far in it... but everyone was talking about it so I chimed in as if I had read it. There was enough to be sarcastic about in those few pages I had read that no one noticed.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Book that changed your life:
The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman.
Favorite line from a book:
"We think that grass is green, that stones are hard, and that snow is cold. But physics assures us that the greenness of grass, the hardness of stones, and the coldness of snow, are not the greenness, hardness, and coldness that we know in our own experience, but something very different."--from An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth by Bertrand Russell.
Russell is talking about physics, but I think being skeptical about superficial interpretations is important in all areas of life.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Any book by Greene, Carver, Malamud or Vonnegut, as I mention above. I've often lamented that I ran through all they'd written. With Bukowski, you've got to be a little more choosy.