The favourite books of Jetse Stoorvogel (Netherlands)
In this digital era, I experienced the changing role of books. Knowledge is rapidly acquired through the web and where books used to play an important role in summarizing research results scattered around in various journal articles inaccessible to many of us; it is the journal articles that in many cases have become more accessible on the web than many of the books. That is probably why I most frequently use books as a basic reference instead of finding those key research results.
The question to pick my three favorite books could not have been more appropriate. Our Laboratory of Soil Science and Geology is just facing a move to a new modern building characterized by small offices and little space. Which books do I take along if I could only take three? After gazing for a few minutes to the various bookshelves behind my desk, I decided to select my basic reference books: my soil science dictionary, my basic fact book, and my guidebook in the complex world of statistics.
While teaching soil science, I am frequently challenged to provide that single definition of a soil science term. Often terms that are being used frequently in a whole array of different settings and a quick google provides me with a plethora of slightly different or in some cases very different- definitions. On these moments The Glossary of Soil Science Terms published by the Soil Science Society of America in 1997 provides me guidance.
In similar moments of confusion, I am scratching my head for that little fact or number in soil science or agriculture. I am still surprised how often the Booker Tropical Soil Manual compiled by J.R. Landon and published by Longman in 1990 helps me out. I am still surprised how often I find my basic facts in this fact book. Finally, I can not leave my office without taking my favorite statistics book along. J.C. Davis provides me with the standard work in the second edition of his Statistics and Data Analysis in Geology (published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc in 1986. One of those books that explain statistics in a way understandable for the non-statistician and that illustrates it with examples from our line of research.
Does this mean that I leave my office with a brief case with three books and a computer. Probably not, there are so many other nice books behind me, but is certainly was an interesting exercise to pick three.