Recommended Reading for Heating Professionals
Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman is a little book that will make you think about time in a different way. I first read this while waiting for a plane in some airport. It was a quick read and when I was through with it I stared off into space for a few minutes and then started to read it all over again. It's a good one for flexing the imagination, something we should all do at least once a day
Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It, by Gina Bari Kolata. I heard about this book while driving and listing to the author being interviewed on a PBS station. She explained how nearly 40 million people died from the Spanish Influenza in that horrible winter of 1918, and I let that number roll around in my mind for a while. I wondered why I had never learned about this in school so I read the book. This event was so horrific that it was literally erased from the common memory. It also had a dramatic impact on the development of central heating because the Spanish flu was an airborne virus and people became very afraid of the air in their homes. You can see the impact of this in the engineering texts of the 1920s as engineers began to recommend sizing boilers and radiation for open-window ventilation. Read this book and you'll never again look at an old cast iron radiator in quite the same way.
Heat and Cold: Mastering the Great Indoors: A Selective History by Bernard Nagengast et al. This one was put together to commemorate ASHRAE's centennial. Read all about our roots and enjoy the wonderful old photos and drawings of people and machines that came before us. I think every heating professional should have a copy of this book.
Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. Because it will remind you of your humanity, and better than that, you can read it to your children a thousand times. They'll never grow tired of it. Keep a copy on your desk. It will remind you to go home on time and hug your kids, who are as perishable as milk.
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living and How to Win Friends and Influence People, both by Dale Carnegie. Read these together. They're old books but the message is timeless.
King Coal, by Upton Sinclair. He wrote this in 1917 to expose what was going on in the mines. It will give you insight into the roots of the central heating business in America. It will also tear at your heart.
Thermal Delight in Architecture by Lisa Heschong. This book is only 72 pages long but it's an amazing work in that it addresses the often overlooked tactile nature of people. I don't want to spoil the surprise (or the delight) by telling you any more. I promise you this, though. If you read this little book you will discover new ways to describe what you will bring to prospective clients. And it's available in Books & More.
Life on the Mississippi, by Mark Twain. For a better understanding of the power of steam and the perils that the early engineers faced each day. He'll make you feel like you are there.
To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design. by Henry Petroski. From the collapse of the walkways at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel, to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge that tore itself apart on a mildly windy day in 1940, and everything in between, this book will hold your attention from the first page to the last. It's about engineering disasters and how they happened. This valuable (and often amusing) book delves into the process of engineering and its limits. It will have you looking more closely at those bridge cables, wondering about that elevator that you're riding in, questioning that jumbo jet on the runway, and staring a bit harder at that boiler in the next basement you visit.
Mindfulness, by Ellen J. Langer. This book will make you think hard about the mindsets that all of us develop over the course of our lives, and how they hold us back from breaking through to fresh ideas and insights into ourselves, our businesses, and our relationships with others. It's a psychology/sociology book, sure, but not a technical one that's tough to read. It's one of those works that will have you stopping every few pages to examine events in your past. It will have you seeing those events in a new way. I found this book to be a great aid to creativity.
The Quiet Indoor Revolution, by Seichi Konzo. This is an extraordinary book that tells the story of the research that made the rapid developments in central heating possible. It's a technical book, but easy to follow with many drawings and photos of the early test houses that were used to develop heating as we know it today. If you're a heating professional this book will give you a much better understanding of what you work with every day, and where it came from.
The New Lifetime Reading Plan, by Clifton Fadiman. I'll end with this special one, which is really more a roadmap than a book. I've owned the original edition for nearly 25 years, and I have to admit that it's every bit as intimidating now as it was on the day that I first found it. What we have here is a book about books. It's a long list (with wonderful descriptions) of the important books a person should read during his or her lifetime. Here you'll find the core reading of Western Civilization. I never had the opportunity to get a classical education when I was young, but this book has been the guide to my continuing education as I've grown older. Enjoy!