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Tags recommended reading , science books

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Old 16th June 2007, 02:04 AM   #1
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Help create a JREF recommended science books list?

just an idea - perhaps it's been tried before....

basically a grouping together of the best, most accessible books to introduce layfolk to different scientific fields

as a kind of rough and ready outline there could be

General science - books that take in the whole lot, either as reference [like Pears?] or as overview [Bill Bryson A short History?]

and then more specific areas of interest - [for example]

Cosmology

Evolutionary biology

Psychology

etc etc.

If we can get any kind of consensus, then a recommended list [perhaps with review, further reading etc] could be compiled....

i guess i'll see how the thread develops, to see if this is feasible or not....
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:34 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
If we can get any kind of consensus, then a recommended list [perhaps with review, further reading etc] could be compiled....

It's quite new but that's the sort of thing we're doing here: http://www.ukskeptics.com/reviewed_books.php
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:42 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by John Jackson View Post
It's quite new but that's the sort of thing we're doing here: http://www.ukskeptics.com/reviewed_books.php
looks good - are the reviews written by members?

using the list to generate money for the forum is also an interesting idea - on the most basic level, just linking to Amazon pages can raise cash... is the forum book service run through an independent 3rd party?
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Old 16th June 2007, 02:56 AM   #4
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Yes the book reviews are (or will be - it's only just started) written by us.

We've teamed up with a company that sells (mostly) Prometheus books so we get all the good stuff.

It should build up to be a nice little resource for skeptics over time.
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Old 16th June 2007, 03:19 AM   #5
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Might as well get a couple of the obvious out of the way.

Cosmos by Sagan (general)
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Sagan (evolutionary biology)
Selfish Gene, River Out of Eden, Ancestor's Tale by Dawkins (evolutionary biology)
Guns, Germs and Steel by Diamond (general{anthropology})
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Old 16th June 2007, 07:32 AM   #6
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Taner Edis has been working with CSICOP to maintain a Skeptic's Bibliography since the 1980s.

Submissions and book reviews are always welcome.

I would also investigate whether the JREF would volunteer to make the index available for their extensive on-site library.
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Old 16th June 2007, 07:49 AM   #7
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Demon Haunted World - Sagan

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Neroscience)

Dead Men do tell Tales - Maples

Nibbling on Einstein's Brain (Childrens) Sawnson

Pale Blue Dot - Sagan

The Lady Tasting Tea - Salsburg (Statistics)

Mauve - Garfield

Longitude - Sobel

Flu - Kolata

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology - Feder

Billions and Billions - Sagan

Awakenings - Sacks

The Boy who could not stop Washing - Rapopart

Sputnik - Dickson

These are most of the science books that helped me understand the world better. I have a lot more books but haven't really read them, just browsed them. Several/Most of these books I use when thinking or explaining new things. The neurology books are used whenever someone tells me they "sense" god or the know because they "saw" it.

I love books that explain the history of events or life, such as Flu, Sputnik, Mauve, The Lady Tasting Tea, and Longitude.

Hope this helps

Susan
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Old 16th June 2007, 09:57 AM   #8
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Gould's The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, anyone?
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Old 16th June 2007, 10:31 AM   #9
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cool - some good suggestions/ideas so far -

two of my favourites

Dawkins' Selfish Gene

Greene's Fabric of the Cosmos
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Old 16th June 2007, 11:41 AM   #10
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Some that were enormously influential to me:

Atom by Issac Asimov. That book triggered several "Oh! Now I get it" moments for me.

Broca's Brain .
&
The Dragons of Eden Both by Carl Sagan. These (along with Cosmos) really opened my eyes to the sense of wonder and emotional fulfillment that could be gained through science.

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins. I already had a sound understanding of evolutionary theory before reading it but after reading it I understood it in so much more detail.
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Old 16th June 2007, 01:15 PM   #11
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Someone said Awakenings by Sacks and I agree that's good for neurology.

Phantoms in the Brain is also good with some simple neurology.
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Old 16th June 2007, 04:14 PM   #12
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Does anyone think a selection of books on the history or philosophy of science would be useful for this effort? If so, I have some good suggestions appropriate for a general audience.

Also, does mathematics count?
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Old 16th June 2007, 04:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ceo_esq View Post
Does anyone think a selection of books on the history or philosophy of science would be useful for this effort? If so, I have some good suggestions appropriate for a general audience.

Also, does mathematics count?
definitly to both
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Old 16th June 2007, 05:56 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
definitly to both

OK then.
  • David C. Lindberg's The Beginnings of Western Science (U of Chicago P 1992)

  • Edward Grant's The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages (Cambridge UP 1996)

  • Grant & Olson's Science & Religion (Johns Hopkins UP 2004) in two volumes (From Aristotle to Copernicus and From Copernicus to Darwin)

  • Steven Shapin's The Scientific Revolution (U of Chicago P 1996)

  • David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order (Routledge 1980)

  • Stewart Shapiro's Thinking About Mathematics (Oxford UP 2000)
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Old 16th June 2007, 06:09 PM   #15
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How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statis.../dp/0393310728
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Old 16th June 2007, 06:20 PM   #16
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On the history/science interface, The Day The Universe Changed by the incomparable James Burke.
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Old 16th June 2007, 06:50 PM   #17
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The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene is probably the best one for physics and stuff. Its sequel, Fabric of the Cosmos is pretty good, too.
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Old 16th June 2007, 07:11 PM   #18
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The Song of the Dodo - David Quammen

Chaos - James Gleick

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea - Charles Seife

Measuring America - Andro Linklater

I know the last one will be pretty obscure to most people. It is a history of science text on surveying in the US, but it touches on economics, mathematics, and, most importantly, how to devise and select a system of weights and measures, and why the US ended up with the set we use today.
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Old 16th June 2007, 07:52 PM   #19
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Two books that changed the way I see the world around me:

Salt by Mark Kurlansky - Imagine if everything you think you know about history is just a thin film over the real forces that drive mankind. One of those forces might just be something you would never expect.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - What do you eat when you can eat anything? And why do you eat it? You probably don't know as much about what's on your plate as you should.

and if we ever get a fiction section, I always liked The Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison.
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Old 16th June 2007, 07:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by CapelDodger View Post
On the history/science interface, The Day The Universe Changed by the incomparable James Burke.
Seconded and I'd like to add Connections in the general science category because it's a great example of how one discovery leads to another.

I'd also add one to the evolution list because it gives a frustrating, supportive and fascinating perspective on the Creation v. Evolution debate What does it mean to be 98% Chimpanzee by Jonathan Marks.

Along that line, while I haven't read them, I recommend The Naked Ape and The Human Animal by Desmond Morris.
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Old 17th June 2007, 03:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
The Song of the Dodo - David Quammen

Chaos - James Gleick

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea - Charles Seife

Measuring America - Andro Linklater
I haven't read the first, but I second the other three. Especially Zero, since it addresses the way people and societies can react irrationally to what are purely rational concepts - and so is highly relevant to JREF.
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Old 17th June 2007, 03:54 PM   #22
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I'd reccomend pretty much anything written by John Gribbin especially:

Deep Simplicity (Chaos, complexity etc)
In Search of Schrodingers Cat (Quantum Physics)
The Birth of Time (Cosmology and age of universe)
The Fellowship (History of science in the Royal society)
And many others.

I'd also add:

- Feynman's 6 Easy Pieces
- Hawking's A brief history of time
- Dawkin's Unweaving the Rainbow

And a random one which is great for the lay person:

Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz by Edward Burger & Michael Starbird.
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Old 17th June 2007, 03:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by UnrepentantSinner View Post
Seconded and I'd like to add Connections in the general science category because it's a great example of how one discovery leads to another.
Remember his SciAm columns? Always the first page I flicked to. (Nowadays it's Shermer's Skeptic page, no surprises there . Always followed by 50/100/150 Years Ago.) My two great loves are History and Science, in that order but only if I'm forced to choose. So as far as I'm concerned, James Burke is The Man.

He also covered the Moon landings for the BBC. An iconic figure.

Quote:
Along that line, while I haven't read them, I recommend The Naked Ape and The Human Animal by Desmond Morris.
They certainly opened my eyes to a lot of what goes on around me. As did his Manwatching.
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Old 17th June 2007, 04:34 PM   #24
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Steve Jones: The Language of the Genes and Almost Like a Whale.
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Old 17th June 2007, 05:26 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by CapelDodger View Post
I haven't read the first, but I second the other three. Especially Zero, since it addresses the way people and societies can react irrationally to what are purely rational concepts - and so is highly relevant to JREF.

David Quammen is sort of like Bill Bryson, in that he was a writer before he started focusing on science writing. He has put out several collections of essays, as well as another excellent science book, Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind.

I am interested in reading the statistics book you listed. Do you know the original publication date? I am hoping my local library has it.
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Old 18th June 2007, 03:35 PM   #26
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One of my favourites:

Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott
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Old 18th June 2007, 03:37 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
I am interested in reading the statistics book you listed. Do you know the original publication date? I am hoping my local library has it.
How to lie with statistics? 1955 or thereabouts... But it reads as it had been written just yesterday!
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Old 18th June 2007, 04:36 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
David Quammen is sort of like Bill Bryson, in that he was a writer before he started focusing on science writing. He has put out several collections of essays, as well as another excellent science book, Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind.
That sounds good, I'll look out for it.

Quote:
I am interested in reading the statistics book you listed. Do you know the original publication date? I am hoping my local library has it.
I'm sure I've got a copy somewhere, but damned if I can put my hand on it. (My library sorely needs re-indexing.) Chocolate Devourer is quite right; I read it in the 60's, and it wasn't new then, but it's timeless. Pie-chart or bar-chart in your PowerPoint presentation? How To Lie has the answer.
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Old 18th June 2007, 11:15 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Chocolate Devourer View Post
How to lie with statistics? 1955 or thereabouts... But it reads as it had been written just yesterday!
Originally Posted by CapelDodger View Post
I'm sure I've got a copy somewhere, but damned if I can put my hand on it. (My library sorely needs re-indexing.) Chocolate Devourer is quite right; I read it in the 60's, and it wasn't new then, but it's timeless. Pie-chart or bar-chart in your PowerPoint presentation? How To Lie has the answer.

Thanks to both of you. I will be passing by our local branch of the library tomorrow on the way to work, and will put in a request for it.
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Old 19th June 2007, 12:45 AM   #30
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Appreciate all the input, I think I'll order them all on amazon and have me a nice book binge.
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Old 19th June 2007, 01:49 AM   #31
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cool - lot's of good suggestions!

Now, to start grouping the list together,

perhaps, 1-3 key recommended books for each subject - the best possible introduction(s) to a given topic, given with a list of follow up reading....

and to petition Darat for a sticky
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Old 19th June 2007, 03:10 AM   #32
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Not sure how to categorize it, but Goedel, Escher and Bach by Hofstadter is a beautiful book just about thinking and draws together mathematics, art and music...and humor. It should be on every skeptics bookshelf.
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Old 19th June 2007, 03:42 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Ginarley View Post
And a random one which is great for the lay person:

Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz by Edward Burger & Michael Starbird.
On that note....

I have an extra copy of that book which I'd be happy to send to a good home in the US. PM me if you're interested.

Linda
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Old 19th June 2007, 09:29 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by andyandy View Post
cool - lot's of good suggestions!

Now, to start grouping the list together,

perhaps, 1-3 key recommended books for each subject - the best possible introduction(s) to a given topic, given with a list of follow up reading....

and to petition Darat for a sticky

How fine a granulation do you want for the groupings? For example, lump all of the biology together, or split out the human biology?
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Old 19th June 2007, 10:10 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Hokulele View Post
How fine a granulation do you want for the groupings? For example, lump all of the biology together, or split out the human biology?
I think there's got to be scope to split the sciences to some degree

eg. ecology, zoology, human biology, genetics -

and maybe have recommended books in each area, but equally some topics like evolutionary biology do take in strands from each area - so perhaps a book on evolutionary biology would serve as a good first recommendation....which could then be backed up with further more specific reading....

whatever people think really
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Old 20th June 2007, 01:14 AM   #36
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Perhaps Carol Ann Rinzler's Dictionary of Medical Folklore? It's been some time since I browsed through it the last time, but if I recall correctly, it's a quite decent and above all brief and witty book on what "old wives' tales" and folk remedies are useful, and which are not. I should perhaps read it through again before fully endorsing it, though.

EDIT:

And perhaps Brusca and Brusca's Invertebrates, to get a good and solid understanding that animals, in general, do not have spines. I don't really know how accessible this book is to people who aren't interested in zoology, though.
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Old 21st June 2007, 12:45 PM   #37
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ok....a start;

Astromony/cosmology

Cosmos by Sagan

fabric of the Cosmos/Elegant Universe by Greene

Parrellel worlds by Kaku

The Birth of Time Gribbins

Physics

Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott

Feynman's 6 Easy Pieces

Atom by Issac Asimov.

David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order

Deep Simplicity Gribbins
In Search of Schrodingers Cat Gribbins

Evolutionary biology

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Sagan
Selfish Gene, River Out of Eden, Ancestor's Tale, Blind watchmaker by Dawkins

What does it mean to be 98% Chimpanzee by Jonathan Marks.

The Naked Ape and The Human Animal by Desmond Morris.

Stephen Jay Gould

Biology

Steve Jones: The Language of the Genes and Almost Like a Whale.

Brusca and Brusca's Invertebrates

The Song of the Dodo - David Quammen

The mismeasure of man Gould

Neuroscience
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Sacks

Phantoms in the Brain VS Ramachandran

General medical

Awakenings - Sacks

The Boy who could not stop Washing - Rapopart

Flu - Kolata

Carol Ann Rinzler's Dictionary of Medical Folklore

Maths

The Lady Tasting Tea - Salsburg (Statistics)

Stewart Shapiro's Thinking About Mathematics

Chaos - James Gleick

Goedel, Escher and Bach by Hofstadter

Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz by Edward Burger & Michael Starbird.

How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff.

General Science/history of science

David C. Lindberg's The Beginnings of Western Science

Edward Grant's The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everthing

Grant & Olson's Science & Religion (Johns Hopkins UP 2004) in two volumes (From Aristotle to Copernicus and From Copernicus to Darwin)

The Day The Universe Changed by the incomparable James Burke.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea - Charles Seife

Steven Shapin's The Scientific Revolution (U of Chicago P 1996)

Measuring America - Andro Linklater

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Fellowship (History of science in the Royal society) Gribbins

David Quammen Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind.

Connections ??

Scepticism and science

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology - Feder

Broca's Brain Sagan

anthroplogy/archeology
Guns, Germs and Steel by Diamond

The prehistory of the mind S Mithen

Psychology

The Happiness Hypothesis Haidt


Leftovers as i've had enough of categorising.....will do later

Demon Haunted World - Sagan

Dead Men do tell Tales - Maples

Nibbling on Einstein's Brain (Childrens) Sawnson

Pale Blue Dot - Sagan

Mauve - Garfield

Longitude - Sobel

Billions and Billions - Sagan

Sputnik - Dickson

Now this is only a rough draft - i've only read a fraction of these books, so please let me know if they need recategorising....the history of science/general science needs splitting - and we need some chemisty/geology/geography/computing!
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Old 21st June 2007, 03:47 PM   #38
andyandy
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Astromony/cosmology

Cosmos by Sagan
Pale Blue Dot - Sagan

fabric of the Cosmos/Elegant Universe by Greene

Parrellel worlds by Kaku

The Birth of Time Gribbins

Physics

Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott

Feynman's 6 Easy Pieces

Atom by Issac Asimov.

David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order

Deep Simplicity Gribbins

In Search of Schrodingers Cat Gribbins

Evolutionary biology

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Sagan

Selfish Gene, River Out of Eden, Ancestor's Tale, Blind watchmaker by Dawkins

Stephen Jay Gould

Biology

The Naked Ape and The Human Animal by Desmond Morris.

Steve Jones: The Language of the Genes and Almost Like a Whale.

Brusca and Brusca's Invertebrates

The Song of the Dodo - David Quammen

The mismeasure of man Gould

Neuroscience
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat Sacks

Phantoms in the Brain VS Ramachandran

General medical

Awakenings - Sacks

The Boy who could not stop Washing - Rapopart

Flu - Kolata

Carol Ann Rinzler's Dictionary of Medical Folklore

Maths

The Lady Tasting Tea - Salsburg (Statistics)

Stewart Shapiro's Thinking About Mathematics

Chaos - James Gleick

Goedel, Escher and Bach by Hofstadter

Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz by Edward Burger & Michael Starbird.

How To Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff.

General Science history

David C. Lindberg's The Beginnings of Western Science

Edward Grant's The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages

Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everthing

Steven Shapin's The Scientific Revolution

Grant & Olson's Science & Religion (Johns Hopkins UP 2004) in two volumes (From Aristotle to Copernicus and From Copernicus to Darwin)

Specific science histories

The Day The Universe Changed James Burke.

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea - Charles Seife

Longitude - Sobel

Measuring America - Andro Linklater

Mauve - Garfield

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Fellowship (History of science in the Royal society) Gribbins

David Quammen Monster of God: The Man-Eating Predator in the Jungles of History and the Mind.

Billions and Billions - Sagan

Connections ??

Sputnik - Dickson


Scepticism and science

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology - Feder

Demon Haunted World - Sagan

Tricks of the Mind Derren Brown

Broca's Brain Sagan

anthroplogy/archeology
Guns, Germs and Steel by Diamond

Dead Men do tell Tales - Maples

The prehistory of the mind S Mithen

Psychology

The Happiness Hypothesis Haidt

with some links to Amazon added....if anyone wishes to add some more links i would be mucho grateful
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Old 21st June 2007, 09:02 PM   #39
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Cosmology:

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einsteinīs Outreageous Legacy - Kip S. Thorne

That is a GREAT book.

I donīt know, which cathegory this next one goes. The most authoritative Einstein biography, a must read for any non-physicist to understand Einsteinīs main works, and exactly what General Relativity really was for physics (the title is totally misleading):

Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and the Life of Albert Einstein - Abraham Pais
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Old 21st June 2007, 09:05 PM   #40
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Mathematics:

A History of Mathematics - Carl Boyer

For everyone from the high school curious to the Nobel Prize winner. Classics will be classics...
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