In 1994 I discovered a book that was to have a profound influence on my life. Prior to reading it I was still very much undecided about what I found interesting in life, I had spent the previous years devouring information from books but with no real focus. I was on my way to being a jack of all trades.
Yet one book was able to catch my attention and set me on a path that still has effects on me 15 years later.
It’s not a classic (although I think it is) that is studied by academics, it is not full of literary prose and characterisation. It will never be counted against the great works of man, but for me it the novel that has had more effect on my life than any other.
That book is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.
“What!” I can not hear you shout (unless you say this to me I can’t hear you…this is the internet after all). It’s a sci-fi novel, there was a film made of it. How can you be serious?
Well, as a kid amongst my interests were computers, science, dinosaurs and theme parks; and Jurassic Park brings all of these together.
It was the first time I read a novel about science (however far fetched) that seemed possible, the talk of genetics and the methods of bringing back extinct species. Computer systems, dinosaur habits and chaos theory are also thrown into the mix.
Jurassic Park made me want to be a scientist. Even more specifically I wanted to be a geneticist. I even applied to go to Warwick University to do genetics (although in the end I did Microbiology and Zoology elsewhere).
Despite not following on that path I still read a lot of books on the subject, and as a result on the use of DNA in evolution. It set me off to explore the works of Darwin and Dawkins.
The talk of chaos theory from Dr Ian Malcolm made me realise that you cannot control nature, or your own future. It is unpredictable. All you can do is react to the now. From this I learnt about the Eastern philosophies, of Taoism and Buddhism. Although I don’t class myself as either there are aspects from both that I try to use in my daily life.
It is a book about the endless possibilities of science, but about the dangers of stretching to far; about whether even if we can we need to ask whether we should.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bedtime Stories.”
What was your favorite book as a child? Did it influence the person you are now?