I am reading back Computational Fluid Dynamics by John D Anderson Jr, for how many times I am myself not sure. But it has become my habit; every time I am about to embark on a major project, I would read some few related books basically cover to cover to refresh everything. This is in contrast to day-to-day basis problems where I would just refer to some chapters or sub-chapters for information. You want to know about the project? I am sorry but I could not tell, wait until mid next year, insyaAllah. (Below is the photo of the book)
But, every time I read this book by Anderson, I can’t help myself from admiring the conclusiveness of the knowledge possessed by the author. When I read this book, it feels like it was completed in one week time due to the perfection in the continuity of the discussions. Reading Chapter 4, Chapter 2 felt like it was written yesterday if you know what I mean. But the actual would be, I guess, the completion of the book would have taken months if not years. So this only tells two things,
1) In prior to the writing of the books, the author knew already what would be ‘the first sentence and the last sentence’ of the book. In other words, everything was in his head already. And we’re talking about all the mathematical and scientific principles which are voluminous in nature.
2) The author really had and has a great mental strength. To hold an idea or a set of ideas (i.e. what have been written and what to write next and how to connect and to integrate etc) for a long duration say in months or years requires a strong mind, else one would give up out of fatigue at worst or write gibberish at best.
In fact, the above two points are what really differentiate between two authors hence between two books. At the outset, a book is a book but what contents inside really matters.
Another characteristic of a good book is this; every time I read I always feel like the author is talking to me. It is like a recorded voice only that it is my voice echoing his writing. Such a feeling I consider the measure of sincerity and wisdom of the author. In other words, if I get personal with the book, then it is a good book.
But a good book for one does not necessarily a good book for another. It is like a relationship. You might get along with some type of people but others you might not. In the same vein, there are authors suit you in a sense may be you and him are ‘meant to be together’. His thinking suits you, he talks the way you talk, and things like that. So, to find a suitable authors hence books is another thing but it is not a major issue; have you heard the phrase “smart peoples think alike”?.
So, what you can do is to seek an advice for what book to read from someone who is really ‘experienced’ in the field because advice from such a person is usually helpful. I myself was advised by Professor Pellegrino who at the time was a Cambridge’s Professor but now teaching in Caltech, to read Cook’s book instead of Bathe’s book considering I was still a beginner at the time. In another occasion, I was advised by Arash, a PhD friend of mine to read Chen Wai Fah’s book to learn about tensorial treatment of continuum mechanics. These advices have been very ‘correct’ as the books were indeed easily understood as far as my understanding are concerned. Now, I also advice my students in regards to their reading based on my own experiences.
Before I end this writing, I would like to pose a question to myself and to all academicians who are reading this; will we be able to become such a great author and write such great books? I myself yet to know the answer but the best I can do now is to prepare myself by learning more, reading more, thinking more, researching more and working more so that when it times for me to write book of such a magnitude (you see, I have started writing some book which I do not consider on the same pedestal as the type of books we are discussing), I will be the author who;
1) has everything already in his head
2) can hold the ideas of the writing for a long time so as to produce a masterpiece
3) can produce a book that talks to its readers.