Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Revolt By Reading!

This could have actually been an “end note” to my previous entry. First is a list of extremely interesting books that I have read in the past few years. There isn’t a one of them that I wouldn’t recommend if it is in a subject you are interested in. All of them are accessible to lay readers, though some are more esoteric than others (Dawkins' "The Extended Phenotype" comes to mind. I really struggled with that one, though it was worth the effort). The second is simply my running list of books that I have targeted for future reading. Rather than linking them all I’ll just let anyone interested cut and paste the title into Amazon.com. I have indicated books that I particularly enjoyed and learned from with “++”.

Books on science and related topics that I have read in recent years:

Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, Matt Ridley
The Assault on Reason, Al Gore
The Demon Haunted World, Carl Sagan
A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson ++
The Weather Makers, Tim Flannery ++
Our Final Hour, Martin Rees
A Devils Chaplin, Richard Dawkins++
The End of Faith, Sam Harris
Sweet Dreams: Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness, Daniel Dennett
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, E.O. Wilson
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Steven Pinker ++
The Blind Watchmaker: Richard Dawkins
On Human Nature, E.O. Wilson ++
The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins
The Age of Mammals, Donald Prothero
Unweaving the Rainbow, Richard Dawkins
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Dan Dennett ++
Why Darwin Matters, Michael Shermer
Genome, Matt Ridley
The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins ++
Darwin – The Power of Place, Janet Browne
Darwin – Voyaging, Janet Browne
The Extended Phenotype, Richard Dawkins
Smithsonian Intimate Guide to Human Origins, Carl Zimmer
River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins
Missing Links, Robert Martin
His Brother’s Keeper, Jonathan Weiner
Origin of Species, Charles Darwin ++
The Ancestors Tale, Richard Dawkins ++
The Great Influenza, John Barry

Some that I intend to get to: Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind, V.S. Ramachandran
(Reading now)

The Diversity of Life, E.O. Wilson
Climbing Mt. Improbable, Richard Dawkins
Intelligent Thought, John Brockman
Breaking the Spell, Dan Dennett
Next Of Kin, Roger Fouts
Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries, Steven Weinberg Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries, Neil deGrasse Tyson
Hiding in the Mirror: The Quest for Alternate Realities, Lawrence Krauss
Primate and Human Evolution, Susan Cachel
After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination, Kirkpatrick Sale
The Making of the Fittest, Sean Carroll

It’s summer – grab a couple and do some reading. I'm not suggesting my reading ideas are the best. If you don't care for science or even any non-fiction, then get a couple of good works of fiction. Just read. Television is ruining us. Revolt by Reading!


The Exterminator said...

Well, it's almost four months later, and I'm just getting around to adding a few books to your list?

I must admit that I looked at the books you mentioned and was overwhelmed. I don't tend to read science books except in fits and starts; they're not usually my first choice. A few days ago, though, I was searching one of my book cases for a particular quote, and came across these three remarkable books, all from the 90s, sitting on the same shelf. I'm leaving the following paragraph at A.'s blog as well.

The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner, The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen, and Mind of the Raven by Bernd Heinrich. Despite their birdy titles, these are not books mainly about birds. The first is about the researches of the Grants on the Galapagos Islands, where they witnessed a mini-version of evolution in action. The second is basically a primer on, and history of, island biogeography. The third is the author's fascinating story of his experiences testing raven intelligence.

John Evo said...

I have a few I have to add myself. It's been 4 months, after all!

The first book you mention, "The Beak of the Finch", is a widely referenced work that has been brought up in several of books I've read. I think it was in at least one of Dawkins' books. It's quite remarkable, and obviously creationists like to scream "Micro-evolution"! Non-sense. What do they think "micro" equals over hundreds of thousands of years? Once you've agreed, in principle, to evolution on any level, then you have tacitly acknowledged that species can evolve.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Wow! I'm impressed. I hadn't even heard of many of these books, much less read them. But, along with the other Carl Sagan, I'd definitely recommend:

The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God (this one just published last year, consisting of a series of lectures he gave in 1985)