My List of Great of Non-Fiction Books: Learn About Everything . . .

[The following list is taken from one I have up at Amazon.com here.]

“So the following books make you smarter with every turn of the page, and yet they’re so much fun, you get your geek on while having a great time. These books were such a joy to read, yet also total brain food (and most are pretty affordable in paperback). That’s why I decided to make the list, when you find good stuff, you’ve just gotta share!

For anyone who loves to learn about everything and anything, learning just for the sheer joy of it, these books are total finds. I’ve read each one, almost all of them cover-to-cover, and I’m a big geek, so these are ones that totally remained with me, even years after I read them. But beware, prepare to be addicted by your own curiosity!”

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
1.  Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
The list author says:
“WORLD/ANCIENT HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY: Amazing, couldn’t put it  down. Why did some societies come to dominate the earth, and not others? By showing how some societies got to ‘guns, germs, and steel’ before others, Diamond gives a short history of early civilization and its relation to tons of issues.”
$14.85   Used & New from: $9.01
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,202 customer reviews) | 6 customer discussions
Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another
2.  Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another by Philip Ball
The list author says:
“SYSTEMS THEORY, POLITICS: If you want to understand how what used to be chaos/’complex systems theory’ can explain everything from biological to political systems, this is the book for you. My students love it, one even said their dad started reading it when it was laying around the house and couldn’t stop.”
$11.44   Used & New from: $2.98
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
The Evolution of God (Back Bay Readers' Pick)
3.  The Evolution of God (Back Bay Readers’ Pick) by Robert Wright
The list author says:
“EVOLUTION, RELIGION: A whirlwind tour of how religions came about, from hunter-gatherers to the ‘religions of the book’, not from the perspective of a believer, but based on what the historical/archaeological evidence seems to support. If human culture can be thought of as evolving, might our idea of God evolve with it? Recommended this to friends for pleasure reading, they loved it.”
$11.55   Used & New from: $8.48
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews) | 4 customer discussions
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
4.  Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny by Robert Wright
The list author says:
“EVOLUTION, HISTORY, TECHNOLOGY: Another great book from Wright, shows how what’s known as ‘game theory’ can be used to understand human history, and where it might be going. In the process, he touches on so many different topics in human history, making sense of widely disparate points in human social and technological evolution. Great stuff.”
$10.77   Used & New from: $0.23
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
5.  Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century by Howard K. Bloom
The list author says:
“SYSTEMS THEORY, BIOLOGY: Another ‘complex systems’ book, this one shows how everything from the earliest forms of life to wikipedia can be understood as complex networks. Wide-ranging, smart, and fun to read. If you’re interested in everything from bacterial colonies to primate social behavior, you’ll love this.”
$11.11   Used & New from: $2.50
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics
6.  Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics by Eric D. Beinhocker
The list author says:
“ECONOMICS: Best general book on economics I’ve ever read, and with none of the jargon or math. Uses evolutionary and complex systems theories (no prior experience necessary!) to show how evolution and economics aren’t all that different.  In the process, you’ll learn about stock markets, theories of evolution, robotics, fractals, Toyota, power grids, and lots of other cool stuff.”
$12.92   Used & New from: $5.99
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World
7.  Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler
The list author says:
“LANGUAGE, HISTORY: If you’re a language geek, there’s SOOOO much in here: what makes some language spread, even when the people who created it lose battles, culture wars, etc? Ostler examines every language that has ever come to dominate part of the world, from Egyptian to Sanskrit to English.”
$9.59   Used & New from: $4.95
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention
8.  The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher
The list author says:
“LINGUISTICS: How did languages evolve? What do linguists study, and how do they do it? If you ever wondered where verbs came from, and want to enjoy the process, this is a great book.”
$11.20   Used & New from: $6.64
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra
9.  Unknown Quantity: A Real and Imaginary History of Algebra by John Derbyshire
The list author says:
“MATH: I never thought a book on the history of math could be so much fun. This book’s about a LOT more than just algebra, it’s a whirlwind tour of how match changed in history. Tons of cool stories, and no difficult symbols. Anyone can read this and learn a ton.”
$10.77   Used & New from: $2.81
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry
10.  Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry by Ian Stewart
The list author says:
“MATH, PHYSICS: Ian Stewart is such a great writer, all his books are amazing. This one introduces the notion of symmetry, and how it can be used to understand, well, just about anything. You’ll go from ancient Babylon to quantum theory, no math background required!”
$9.99
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
See buying options
The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
11.  The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
The list author says:
“MUSIC: If twentieth century music totally baffles you, and you want to understand it, it’s history, why and how and where, this is the book for you. And you get a tour of the early twentieth century in the process. Lots of fun, well written, a joy to read.”
$11.23   Used & New from: $6.75
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion
About Time: Einstein's Unfinished Revolution
12.  About Time: Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution by Paul Davies
The list author says:
“RELATIVITY THEORY, QUANTUM PHYSICS: Clearest explanation you’ll ever find of relativity and quantum physics, all packaged with bits from the life story of Albert Einstein. Tons of cool paradoxes, written a a relaxed, talky, laidback style that everyone can understand, even on this difficult stuff! A really great book.”
$10.09   Used & New from: $0.01
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients
13.  The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients by Irvin D. Yalom
The list author says:
“PSYCHOLOGY, THERAPY: If you ever wondered how or why therapy works, or what it’s like to be a therapist, read this book. Yalom shows how therapy can be an ethical practice for life. Incredible.”
Used & New from: $3.73
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
See buying options
Body And Soul: The Making Of American Modernism
14.  Body And Soul: The Making Of American Modernism by Robert Morse Crunden
The list author says:
“MODERNISM: The roaring twenties in art, literature, music, and culture comes to life in this excellent read.”
$19.50   Used & New from: $1.25
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
15.  Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 by George Chauncey
The list author says:
“QUEER/GENDER STUDIES, NYC: This great book describes worlds most people have no idea ever existed, from the cabarets of Harlem to the drag balls at Madison Square Garden to the lives of sailors on the bowery. A great intro to queer theory, lgbt history, the roaring twenties, and the history of nyc.”
$14.99   Used & New from: $2.73
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom
16.  Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by Bell Hooks
The list author says:
“EDUCATION, PEDAGOGY: Best book written about teaching that I’ve ever read. Deeply ethical, practical, intense. Also a great intro to thinking about race, class, gender, and sexuality and how they relate to the classroom.”
$18.97   Used & New from: $7.29
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Experience And Education
17.  Experience And Education by John Dewey
The list author says:
“EDUCATION, PEDAGOGY: What should we teach, and how? Dewey shows how education is all about form over content, and he does it in plain English. Great stuff.”
$9.99   Used & New from: $5.83
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
See buying options
The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft
18.  The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft by Anne Friedberg
The list author says:
“ART: A great history of art from the easel painting to laptops, with tons of film theory, discussions of perspective, window making, and other cool visual storylines. A bit more ‘scholarly’ than some of the others, but still well written and accessible to all.”
$12.89   Used & New from: $11.37
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Hidden Unity in Nature's Laws (English and English Edition)
19.  Hidden Unity in Nature’s Laws (English and English Edition) by John C. Taylor
The list author says:
“SCIENCE, HISTORY: A really great history of the development of science, up to and including quantum physics and the theory of relativity. Has some basic math, but nothing above HS level. Does a great job of explaining why and how major breakthroughs came about.”
$56.00   Used & New from: $9.63
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
A Universe Of Consciousness How Matter Becomes Imagination
20.  A Universe Of Consciousness How Matter Becomes Imagination by Gerald M. Edelman
The list author says:
“THE BRAIN: Explains how the brain works, pure and simple. Really smart, and pretty easy to read. And after this, you’ll understand why your neocortex is like a network . . .”
$15.23   Used & New from: $3.35
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain
21.  Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain by Antonio R. Damasio
The list author says:
“THE BRAIN, EMOTION: Damasio’s a great writer, and with tons of examples, he shows why emotions are central to what it means to think, throwing in a lot of the architecture of the brain in the process.”
$9.72   Used & New from: $7.49
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain
22.  The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain by Terrence W. Deacon
The list author says:
“THE BRAIN, LANGUAGE: How did our brain and language coevolve? Slightly more technical than some of the others, but still a good read. And so much in here! You’ll learn about the evolution of so many different parts of the brain, how they taught chimps human language using language-boards, and so much more.”
$13.51   Used & New from: $3.95
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes
23.  Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, from Our Brains to Black Holes by Charles Seife
The list author says:
“INFORMATION THEORY: Every wondered what information theory is? Here’s a totally accessible book to explain it to you, with tons of scientific tidbits thrown in.”
$10.40   Used & New from: $3.55
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion
Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means
24.  Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means by Albert-László Barabási
The list author says:
“NETWORKS: If you wanna know more about why the study of networks is hot these days, check this book out.”
$10.88   Used & New from: $3.97
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos In the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life
25.  Sync: How Order Emerges From Chaos In the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life by Steven H. Strogatz
The list author says:
“SYSTEMS THEORY: Another great pop-sci systems theory book. If you wanna get why order evolves from chaos, often by itself, starting from how crickets come to flash in sync, look no further. And it’s a fun read.”
$11.55   Used & New from: $3.95
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
In Search of the Multiverse: Parallel Worlds, Hidden Dimensions, and the Ultimate Quest for the Frontiers of Reality
26.  In Search of the Multiverse: Parallel Worlds, Hidden Dimensions, and the Ultimate Quest for the Frontiers of Reality by John Gribbin
The list author says:
“MULTIPLE UNIVERSES: Ever wonder about why scientists argue that there could be many univeres? All explained, and its lots of fun.”
$15.24   Used & New from: $10.78
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
What Is Thought? (Bradford Books)
27.  What Is Thought? (Bradford Books) by Eric B. Baum
The list author says:
“WHAT IS THOUGHT?: Unlike the other books, this book is difficult, but there’s nothing here that requires a math or science background, he explains everything. Introduces everything from the DNA to computer science to artificial intelligence, etc. Amazing.”
$20.80   Used & New from: $10.76
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice (Oxford Studies in Music Theory)
28.  A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice (Oxford Studies in Music Theory) by Dmitri Tymoczko
The list author says:
“MUSIC AND MATH: If you’re ever wondered what music and math have in common, this book is for you. It’s not the easiest going, but it does explain almost all the music theory you’ll need as you go along. And this is the first book that really brings music theory and modern mathematics (ie: group theory) together. A little more difficult than some of the other texts on the list, but amazing.”
$31.72   Used & New from: $30.94
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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~ by chris on May 22, 2011.

5 Responses to “My List of Great of Non-Fiction Books: Learn About Everything . . .”

  1. Thank you! I’m always looking for books to expand my consciousness & gain better understanding of the world & our place in it! ❤

  2. super duper great list. I like the fact that you’ve listed books in so many different categories. thanks

  3. Fantastic list. Very inspired to buy and read all these books! I can die happy if I complete all the reading in this list.

  4. This is a great list. Thank you for taking the time to post.

  5. Brilliant List and kudos for taking the time to patiently list them all. Keep Learning!

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