Books


I find these books full of valuable and exciting ideas, I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Please tell me about the outstanding books you've read. Any subject is fine. The books I like most are those written by people who understand something so well that they can explain it clearly with simple words.

(Needs updating for childhood trauma. Last updated in 2013)

For a better tomorrow

NonViolent Communication
Peoplemaking
Atlas Shrugged
How Children Fail
What Has Government Done to Our Money?
For A New Liberty and The Ethics of Liberty
Deschooling Society
The Market for Liberty
Defending the Undefendable
Regenerating the Soil
The Underground History of American Education
Steps to an ecology of mind
Mindstorms and The Children's Machine
After Thought
Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams

The human brain

Neural Darwinism
The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ
Uncommon Therapy
Mind in Society
Thought and Language
Goedel, Escher, Bach

Humans in nature

The Naked Ape
The Third Chimpanzee
Your Inner Fish
Chimpanzee Politics
Climbing Mount Improbable
Guns, Germs, and Steel
Through a Window
The Ape and the Sushi Master
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
The Big Bang Never Happened
Relativity in Illustrations
The Extended Phenotype

Various subjects

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Envisioning Information
The Humane Interface
Tools for thought
Consilience
A Twist of the Wrist I & II
Born to Run
There Are No Electrons
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

note: Amazon.com is not paying me to recommend these books or their service, nor is anyone else. Some other book resources on the internet are MX BookFinder, abebooks.com, and BooksAMillion.com.


NonViolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, 2nd edition published September 2003 by Puddledancer Press Inc. ISBN 1892005034. Read the first chapter here and reviews at Amazon.com

"In this internationally acclaimed text, Marshall Rosenberg offers insightful stories, anecdotes, practical exercises and role-plays that will dramatically change your approach to communication for the better. Discover how the language you use can strengthen your relationships, build trust, prevent conflicts and heal pain. Revolutionary, yet simple, NonViolent Communication offers you the most effective tools to reduce violence and create peace in your life—one interaction at a time."

Marc: I recommend the audiobook version from SoundsTrue, so you can hear Marshall Rosenberg himself explaining what NonViolent Communication is, what it can bring you, and how to learn and to apply it. Learning NonViolent Communication since 2011 has changed my life more than anything else before. At the top of the Videos page is a link to a video of Marshall Rosenberg giving to an audience an introduction to the basics of NVC.



Peoplemaking by Virgina Satir, © 1972 by Science and Behavior Books, Inc. ISBN 0-285-64872-1. Read more at Amazon.com (this links to The New PeopleMaking, as reviews of the original are no longer available). I recommend the original edition if you can find it.

Marc: This was the best I knew of before learning about Nonviolent Communication. Satir, a world pioneer of family therapy, presents the principles underlying human interactions as she sees them and how to apply them in raising sane children.



Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, © 1957. Read more at Amazon.com or listen to the Audiobook version.

Marc: This story illustrates the consequences of choosing to rely on one's reason to learn from reality, which leads to becoming a self-respecting individual who enters into exchanges with others based on mutual agreement, or the consequences of failing to make this choice and being reduced to taking from others using force or deception. Ayn Rand shows why this is the 2nd most important choice one can make (after the choice to continue to live), but she does not explain how to work up to it, how to gradually develop the self-confidence one needs in order to even consider making this choice (this part was to be addressed 20 years later by Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, and by Nathaniel Branden's work on self-esteem). Everyone is born with the inclination to trust one's own senses and reason, and thus gradually develop into the ideal which Ayn Rand identifies as our proper nature, but unfortunately most children are discouraged from following this path and are pushed instead to reject themselves in order to conform to others' misguided expectations.

The philosophical breakthroughs of Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged are detailed and explained in Nathaniel Branden's The Basic Principles of Objectivism. Among these breakthroughs one stands out for me, her deduction of an objective human ethics from the fact that we are conscious of our own existence.

Like all world changing ideas, Ayn Rand's advances are the subject of much misrepresentation. The inconsistencies in some parts of her work, such as her statement in The Virtue of Selfishness (a highly recommended book nonetheless) that society necessarily requires government, and other inconsistencies in her private life, while they do exist, remain small compared to the magnitude of her impact on philosophy. Ayn Rand has entered history as the most significant philosopher since Aristotle.



How Children Fail by John Holt, © 1982 Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-013556-1. Read more at Amazon.com

"Most children in school fail. For a great many, this failure is avowed and absolute. Close to forty percent of those who begin high school drop out before they finish. For college, the figure is one in three. Many others fail in fact if not in name. They complete their schooling only because we have agreed to push them up through the grades and out of the schools whether they know anything or not. There are many more such children than we think. ... But there is a more important sense in which almost all children fail: Except for a handful, who may or may not be good students, they fail to develop more than a tiny part of the tremendous capacity for learning, understanding, and creating with which they were born and of which they made full use during the first two or three years of their lives. Why do they fail? They fail because they are afraid, bored, and confused."

Marc: Holt was a dedicated school teacher and as such, he limits his description of the failures of the school system to faults in the way schools work as seen from the inside. These structural shortcomings are still enough for him to reject compulsory schooling as hopeless.
The HoltGWS.com site has excerpts from past issues of Growing Without Schooling, the magazine Holt started in 1977. And this interview is a good introduction to Holt's ideas.



What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard, ©1963. Read it here: (PDF, Audiobook)

"From Aristotle to Marx, men have mistakenly believed that an exchange records some sort of equality of value--that if one barrel is exchanged for ten logs, there is some underlying equality between them..."

Marc: for many years I lived with the foggy assumption that making a profit means one is somehow robbing people, that I ought to work for the sake of others rather than be greedy in trying to maximize my profit at their expense. Reading Rothbard revealed my error: far from being opposites, profit and helping others actually go hand in hand. Imagine I am selling something you want to buy. If either of us considers the transaction to be a net personal loss, we will walk away from it. In order for the exchange to take place at all, we both have to expect to gain from it. Your gain is the service or product I provide, my gain is the money you agree to pay. Each of us values what we receive more than what we give up, no one loses, or else we would walk away. And the more you value what I have to offer, the more you are willing to pay for it. Thus the more I help you, by providing a service you value higher, the more I can profit too (if I figure out a way to keep my cost low enough). It sounds obvious now, yet I'd had it backwards for as long as I can remember!

This realization also shatters the myth that a for-profit company cannot be trusted to serve the public's best interest. For it is each of us, by choosing which company to buy from and which to avoid, who determines the fate of companies. Any company not satisfying its customers will lose business to competitors, and will eventually have to close its doors. This yields an automatic, self-regulating system which rewards businesses who serve the public, and punishes those who provide a poor value. This is the free market, mankind's best discovery and the one which enabled all others, bringing us all the goods we can enjoy today. It is also required for any further advances in our well-being. The free market does not need any outside "regulation", its millions of delicate feedback loops are the combined results of all the buying and selling choices each of us makes every day based on our own individual criteria. Any attempt to second guess this highly complex system, any heavy-handed intervention by government to impose restrictions on our individual choices, can only hinder the market from working towards satisfying our needs, by disrupting the balance.

Many other Rothbard works are online at Mises.org and lewrockwell.com. I highly recommend every single one of them (I would follow What Has Govt. Done… with An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought). The audio recordings of Rothbard's lectures are a pleasure to listen to, both because they are highly instructive and also because they are quite (socialism) funny (Keynes)!



For A New Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard, © 1973. Read it here: (Text, Audiobook)

"Let us take a brief look at the major problem areas of our society and see if we can detect any "red thread" that runs through all of them."

Marc: Murray Rothbard, standing on the shoulders of Ludwig Von Mises, Richard Cantillon, and other worthy predecessors, does for liberty what Albert Einstein did for physics. He presents a new way of seeing the world which is simpler and resolves many seemingly hopeless problems.

As with Einstein's relativity, this change can be difficult to accept because we are so accustomed to the old ideas that it takes time to let go of them, regardless of how wrong they are. In the case of liberty however the old ideas are not only wrong, they also cause us serious harm, so the sooner we make the switch the better.

Rothbard further developed his thoughts in The Ethics of Liberty, © 1982, (Text, Audiobook) where he offers a description of natural law and an enlightening demonstration of its application to solve numerous common problems of human interaction. This is followed by a comprehensive examination of the impact of the state on liberty.



Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich, © 1970. ISBN 0-7145-0879-9. Read more at Amazon.com

"Many students, especially those who are poor, intuitively know what the schools do for them. They school them to confuse process and substance. Once these become blurred, a new logic is assumed ... The pupil is thereby "schooled" to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competency, and fluency with the ability to say something new. His imagination is "schooled" to accept service in place of value."

Marc: Illich's familiarity with institutionalized religion let him find similarities in institutionalized education. He describes how and why school as an institution, regardless of what is taught or by whom, can only prevent children from growing into responsible adults. By causing children to confuse learning with being taught, school turns knowledge into a commodity that it then selectively dispenses to only a few, mostly those who join the school to perpetuate institutionalized schooling. At a time when the exhaustion and pollution of the earth's resources are reaching catastrophic proportions, such a waste is suicide. We desperately need all childen to be able to develop their imagination, their skills and ingenuity, so that we may meet the challenge of our survival.



The Market for Liberty by Morris and Linda Tannehill, © 1970. ISBN 0930073088. Download the PDF or Audiobook (more choices here).

Marc: This is a compact, masterful, hard-hitting synthesis of ideas from Rothbard, Rand, and the emerging science of self-organizing systems. Morris and Linda Tannehills persuasively explain how a decentralized, self-regulating society can work, based on only the two time tested requirements for a free market: property rights and free trade. They also show why government necessarily prevents the development of such a free society, and why the state is the root of all war.



Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block, © 1976. ISBN 1933550171. Read more at Amazon.com or Mises.org

"Shatters stereotypes. Shock your friends and educate them!"



Regenerating the Soil by Claude Bourguignon, © 2005. ISBN 8185569681. Read more at printsasia.com.

Marc: Microbiologist Claude Bourguignon explains how and why agricultural soils are dying, having lost most of their microfauna and microflora in the 50 years since the establishment of mechanized tilling and industrial-scale fertilizer and pesticide use.

Tilling, especially the deep kind made possible by powerful machinery, disrupts the interconnected life cycles of organisms living in the soil and leads to soil erosion and water pollution. Alternatives to tilling (that also do not involve chemicals of any kind) are not only vastly more productive but are also necessary for saving the soil before agriculture as we know it collapses.



The Underground History of American Education An Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto, © 2000 The Odysseus Group. ISBN 0-945-70004-0. There are reader comments at Amazon.com, and the book can be purchased at johntaylorgatto.com

Marc: Important elements even though Gatto is apparently unaware of Rothbard's work, which changes the picture dramatically. The full text is online at the author's site, as well as these short essays: How public education cripples our kids, and why, The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher.
There is also this video interview where Gatto gives a taste of the book.



Steps to an ecology of mind Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology, by Gregory Bateson, © 1972, the University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-03906-4. Read more at Amazon.com

"Philosophical depth, conceptual rigor, and an uncanny scientific imagination are the hallmarks of this invaluable collection by one of the most influential minds of this century."-Carlos E. Sluzki, editor of Double Bind: The Foundation of Communicational Approach to the Family



Mindstorms Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. By Seymour Papert. 2nd edition © 1993 by Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-04674-6. Read more at Amazon.com

Marc: Makes the case that children naturally learn by gradually exploring their world and building their own theories about what they discover. That children rework and refine these theories until they fit with their experience of the world. Contrasts the idea of "debugging" (gradually getting something right through successive efforts) as taught by making LOGO programs, to the right answer/wrong answer approach of teaching used in many schools. Considers how this latter method can lead children to believe they are poor learners, thus negatively conditioning further progress, or worse, even killing any desire to learn. Explains how this is often the case with mathematics, advocates use of LOGO to allow children to master powerful mathematical ideas and understand computers from within by programming them.



The Children's Machine Rethinking school in the age of the computer, by Seymour Papert, © 1993. Published by Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-01063-6. Read more at Amazon.com

"In this sequel to Mindstorms, Papert engagingly recounts what he has learned, and especially the mistakes he has made along the way. Instead of railing at the system or blaming the teachers or administrators, Papert looks at the broader problem, and sees that it springs from deeply held -and of course ill-examined- assumptions about the point of school, or School, as he calls it." Daniel C. Dennett, The New Scientist



After Thought The computer challenge to human intelligence, by James Bailey, © 1996. Published by BasicBooks, A division of HarperCollings Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-465-00782-1 (paper) ISBN 0-465-00781-3 (cloth). Read more at Amazon.com

"A fascinating tour of scientific history, concluding with a vision of a future that is at once exhilarating and profoundly unsettling." -Kirkus Reviews

James Bailey was a senior manager at Thinking Machines Corporation, where a 64,000 processor parallel supercomputer and a wide range of evolutionary computing algorithms were developed.

Some chapter titles: Reassigning the Tasks of the Mind - The Maths of the industrial Age - The Advent of New Sciences and New Maths - The New Intermaths of the Information Age.



Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds, by Mitchel Resnick, © 1994 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ISBN 0-262-18162-2. Read more at Amazon.com

"Resnick's work provides a rare glimpse of what I am sure will become a new paradigm for research in education." - Seymour Papert

How does a bird flock keep its movements so graceful and synchronized? Most people assume that the bird in front leads and the others follow. But that's not the way it works. Bird flocks don't have leaders: they are organized without an organizer, coordinated without a coordinator. And a surprising number of other systems, from termite colonies to traffic jams to economic systems (Marc: the free market system), work the same way.

Turtles, Termites and Traffic Jams is a wide ranging exploration into the counterintuitive world of decentralized systems and self-organizing phenomena. Increasingly, researchers are choosing decentralized models for the organizations and technologies they construct in the world, and for the theories they construct about the world. Yet many people continue to resist these ideas, assuming centralized control where none exists, and imposing centralized control where none is needed.

Drawing on ideas from computer science, education, psychology, and systems theory, Mitchel Resnick examines how and why people resist decentralized ideas, and he describes an innovative new computer language, called StarLogo, that he designed to help people (even young children) develop new ways of thinking about these ideas. For example, a student can use StarLogo to write simple rules for thousands of "artificial ants," then observe the colony-level behaviors that arise from all of the interactions.

Download NetLogo (or starlogoT for older Macs) to run some of the examples in the book.



Neural Darwinism by Gerald M. Edelman, © 1987 Basic Books, Inc. ISBN 0-465-04934-6. Read more at Amazon.com

"The theory of neuronal group selection was formulated to explain a number of apparent inconsistencies in our knowledge of the development, anatomy, and physiological function of the central nervous system. Above all, it was formulated to explain how perceptual categorization could occur without assuming that the world is prearranged in an informational fashion or that the brain contains a homunculus."

"The reasons for abandoning information processing as the primary mode of brain function will be presented in the next chapter; my main purpose here is to outline the central ideas of an alternative view. To account for categorization without assuming information processing or computing, the theory proposes that the key principle governing brain organization is a populational one and that in its operation the brain is a selective system."

Marc: Gerald Edelman is one of the greatest scientists of all time, and this is his most important book so far, in a series of remarkable works. Watch Dr. Edelman give an overview here, and here is an excerpt of a recent talk in which he explains how questions such as consciousness or imagination which so far could only be discussed theoretically are now being opened to experimental exploration.



The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ And other essays, by Jay Haley, © 1986, published by Triangle Press, distributed by W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. ISBN 0-931513-05-7. Read more at Amazon.com

"One of the most creative and stimulating psychologists in the Western World... a combination of acute intelligence and a delightful humor." Alan Watts

"Most of the essays in this book deal with the therapeutic situation, from the point of view of both victim and executioner. He instructs the therapists on how to fail; the schizophrenic on how to stay schizoid; the analyst on how to remain one-up on the analysand..." John Leonard, The New York Times

Jay Haley was born in 1923, received his BA from UCLA, his BLS from Berkeley, and his Masters Degree from Stanford. He has done research on popular films, animal behavior, hypnosis, schizophrenia, therapy, families and family therapy. He has been a Research Associate in both the Department of Anthropology at Stanford and the Palo Alto Medical Research Foundation. Formerly an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, he was also a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Howard University ... Currently he is Co-Director of the Family Therapy Institute of Washington, D.C. ...



Uncommon Therapy The Psychiatric Technique of Milton H. Erickson, M.D. by Jay Haley, ©1986. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-393-30424-8. Read more at Amazon.com

Milton H. Erickson, M.D. is generally acknowledged to be the world's leading practitioner of medical hypnosis. His "strategic therapy", using hypnotic techniques with or without actually inducing trance, allows him to get directly to the core of a problem and prescribe a course of action that can lead to rapid recovery.

This book provides a comprehensive look at Dr. Erickson's theories in practice, through a series of case studies covering the kinds of problems that are likely to occur at various stages of the human life cycle. The results Dr. Erickson achieves sometimes seem to border on the miraculous, but they are brought about by a finely honed technique used by a wise, intuitive, highly trained psychiatrist-hypnotist whose work is recognized as a major contribution to the field.



Mind in Society - The development of Higher Psychological Processes by L. S. Vygotsky, © 1978 Harvard College. ISBN 0-674-57629-2. Read more at Amazon.com

The great Russian psychologist L. S. Vygotsky has long been recognized as a pioneer in developmental psychology. But his theory of development has never been well understood in the West. Mind in Society corrects much of this misunderstanding. Carefully edited by a group of outstanding Vygotsky scholars, the book presents a unique selection of Vygostky's important essays.

"This selection of Vygotsky's important writings (most were previously unavailable in English) offers the Western reader a new appreciation of the seminal contributions of one of Russia's most influential psychologists." --Psychology Today

"Vygotsky was a genius. After more than half a century in science I am unable to name another person who even approaches his incredible analytic ability and foresight. All of my work has been no more than the working out of the psychological theory which he constructed." --A. R. Luria



Thought and Language by L. S. Vygotsky, Alex Kozulin (editor), © 1986 M.I.T. ISBN 0-262-72010-8. Read more at Amazon.com

This newly revised edition of Vygotsky's seminal work contains much new material and many references that were previously unavailable. Vygotsky's ideas become fresh and contemporary in this translation, and Alex Kozulin's foreword to the book is in itself a contribution to the history of psychology in the twentieth century." --Jean Berko Gleason, Professor and chair, Department of psychology, Boston University



Goedel, Escher, Bach by Douglas R. Hofstadter, © 1979 Basic Books Inc. ISBN 0-140-05579-7. Read more at Amazon.com

Linking the music of J.S. Bach, the graphic art of Escher and the mathematical theorems of Goedel, as well as ideas drawn from logic, biology, psychology, physics and linguistics, Douglas Hofstadter illuminates one of the greatest mysteries of modern science: the nature of human thought processes.



The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris, © 1967, published by Dell Pub Co, ISBN 0-440362-66-0. Read more at Amazon.com

"A startling view of man, stripped of the facade we try so hard to hide behind." In view of man's awesome creativity and resourcefulness, we may be inclined to regard him as descended from the angels, yet, in his brilliant study, Desmond Morris reminds us that man is relative to the apes--is in fact, the greatest primate of all. With knowledge gleaned from primate ethnology, zoologist Morris examines sex, child-rearing, exploratory habits, fighting, feeding, and much more to establish our surprising bonds to the animal kingdom and add substance to the discussion that has provoked controversy and debate the world over.

Natural History Magazine praised The Naked Ape as "stimulating . . . thought-provoking . . . [Morris] has introduced some novel and challenging ideas and speculations."

"He minces no words," said Harper's. "He lets off nothing in our basic relation to the animal kingdom to which we belong. . . He is always specific, startling, but logical."



Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, © 2008, published by Vintage Books, ISBN 0-307-27745-9. Read more at Amazon.com

"Neil Shubin, the paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the "fish with hands", tells the story of our bodies as you've never heard it before. By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look, and function, like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest--enlightening, accessible, and told with irresistible enthusiasm."



The Third Chimpanzee The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, by Jared Diamond, © 1992. Published by HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-098403-1. Read more at Amazon.com

Though we share 98 percent of our genes with the chimpanzee, our species evolved into something quite extraordinary. Jared Diamond explores the fascinating question of what in less than 2 percent of our genes has enabled us to found civilizations and religions, develop intricate languages, create art, learn science-and acquire the capacity to destroy all our achievements overnight. The Third Chimpanzee is a tour de force, an iconoclastic, entertaining, sometimes alarming look at the unique and marvelous creature that is the human animal.



Chimpazee Politics by Frans de Waal.,© 1982,1998, published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-6336-8. Read more at Amazon.com

"Even more enlightening than Machiavelli's The Prince, this book describes power takeovers and social organizations in a chimpanzee colony... I'll never look at academic or corporate politics the same way." - Jim Collins, Inc.

"Precise but eminently readable and indeed exciting... This excellent book achieves the dual goal which eludes so many writers about animal behavior--it will both fascinate the non-specialist and be seen as an important contribution to science." - Robert Hind, Times Literary Supplement



Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins, © 1996. W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-31682-3. Read more at Amazon.com

"How could such an intricate object as the human eye -so complex and working so precisely- have come about by chance? In writing described by the New York Times as "a masterpiece," Richard Dawkins builds a carefully reasoned and lovingly illustrated argument for evolutionary adaptation as the mechanism for life on earth.
The metaphor of "Mount Improbable" represents the combination of perfection and improbability that we find in the seemingly "designed" complexity of living things."



Guns, Germs, and Steel The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond, © 1999. Published by W. W. Norton & Co. ISBN 0-393-31755-2. Read more at Amazon.com

"This is a brilliantly written, passionate, whirlwind tour through 13,000 years of history on all the continents - a short history of everything about everybody. The origins of empires, religion, writing, crops, and guns are all here. By at last providing a convincing explanation for the differing developments of human societies on different continents, the book demolishes the grounds for racist theories of history. Its account of how the modern world was formed is full of lessons for our own future. After reading the first two pages, you won't be able to put it down." -Paul R. Ehrlich



Through a Window My Thirty Years With the Chimpanzees of Gombe, by Jane Goodall, © 1990 Soko Publications Limited. ISBN 0-14-014890-6. Read more at Amazon.com

"Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees represents one of the Western world's great scientific achievements" - Stephen Jay Gould

"By dint of heroic patience and labour in the accumulation of verifiable data, she has substantiated her once startling revelations - that chimpanzees think, and can reason out simple problems; that, contrary to general belief, they will eat meat; that they know love and jealousy, grief and boredom; and that they will murder, and make war - and has taken her place as a world authority ... A totally absorbing book" - New Yorker



The Ape and the Sushi Master Cultural reflections of a primatologist, by Frans de Waal, © 2001. Published by Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-04176-0. Read more at Amazon.com

"An extremely well-written, highly provocative discussin of the origins and meaning of culture." - Kirkus Reviews

"For those ready for some self-scrutiny, and a less biased view of culture and learning in our fellow creatures, this book will be a revelation." - Scientific American



The Pleasure of Finding Things Out The best short works of Richard P. Feynman, © 1999 by Carl Feynman and Michelle Feynman published by Perseus Books, ISBN 0-7382-0108-1. Read more at Amazon.com

"Every one of the short works is a pleasure. Feynman is always outrageous, at times courageous, and often movingly eloquent as he ranges from computers to the role of science in society." - Rocky Kolb, author of Blind Watchers of the Sky



The Big Bang Never Happened A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe, by Eric Lerner, © 1992, published by Vintage Books, a divison of Random Houses, Inc, ISBN 0-679-74049-X. Read more at Amazon.com

Marc: Lerner shows how throughout history people's conception of the universe and their place in it has strongly affected how society is structured. The psychological and social perspective he offers comes in addition to his description of comtemporary physics: he shows how observations do not support the big bang theory but instead an infinite and self-organizing universe where electric forces interact with gravity to form an expanding fractal plasma giving rise to ever more richness and complexity. He credits Hannes Alfvén for having originated these studies of plasma.



Relativity in Illustrations by Jacob T. Schwartz. © 1962 by New York University, published by Dover Publications, Inc, ISBN 0-486-25965-X. Read more at Amazon.com

First formulated in the early years of the 20th century, Einstein's theories of relativity overturned long-held concepts of space and time. They provided a radically new way of looking at the physical work and explanations for many questions unanswered by classical physics. Unfortunately, many laypeople consider relativity so abstruse and complicated that they despair of ever understanding it. In reality, the ideas, although profound, are quite simple.

That simplicity is strikingly illuminated in this delightfully nontechnical book, which explains relativity in a straightforward, carefully illustrated manner the intelligent layperson can understand. A little high-school geometry will enable the reader to follow the discussion. Moreover, the book includes more than 60 drawings to illustrate concepts more clearly than verbal explanations could ever do.



The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins, © 1982. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286088-7. Read more at Amazon.com

"Richard Dawkins, one of the most brilliant of the rising generation of biologists, gently and expertly debunks some of the favourite illusions of social biology about the evolution of altruism, but this is on no account to be thought of as a debunking kind of book: it is, on the contrary, a most skillful reformulation of the central problems of social biology in terms of the genetical theory of natural selection. Beyond this, it is learned, witty and very well written." Sir Peter Medawar, Spectator

"Who should read this book? Everyone interested in the universe and their place in it." Jeffrey R. Baylis, Animal Behaviour



The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. © 1964 by Alex Haley and Malcolm X. Read more at Amazon.com

If there was any one who articulated the anger, the struggle, and the beliefs of African Americans in the 1960s, that man was Malcolm X. His Autobiography is now an established classic of modern America, a book that expresses like none other the crucial truth about our violent times.

Marc: With more time, this great man would likely have freed himself from religion as well.



Envisioning Information by Edward R. Tufte, © 1990, published by Graphics Press, P.O. Box 430, Cheshire, Connecticut 06410. Read more at Amazon.com

The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?

This book celebrates escapes from flatland, rendering several hundred superb displays of complex data. Revealed here are design strategies for enhancing the dimensionality and density of protrayals of information--techniques exemplified in maps, the manuscripts of Galileo, timetables, notation describing dance movements, aerial photographs, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, electrocardiograms, drawings of Calder and Klee, computer visualizations, and a textbook of Euclid's geometry.

"Brilliant work on the best means of displaying information." - Sci-Tech News



The Humane Interface New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems, by Jef Raskin, © 2000 by ACM Press. ISBN 0-201-37937-6. Read more at Amazon.com

This unique guide to interactive system design reflects the experience and vision of Jef Raskin, the creator of the Apple Macintosh Project. Other books may show how to use today's widgets and interface ideas effectively. Raskin, however, demonstrates that many current interface paradigms are dead ends, and that making computers significantly easier to use requires new approaches. He explains how to effect desperately needed changes, offering a wealth of innovative and specific interface ideas for software designers, developers, and product managers.

The Apple Macintosh helped to introduce a previous revolution in computer interface design, drawing on the best available technology to establish many of the interface techniques and methods now universal in the computer industry. With this book, Raskin proves again both his farsightedness and his practicality. He also demonstrates how design ideas must be built on a scientific basis, presenting just enough cognitive psychology to link the interface of the future to the experimental evidence and to show why that interface will work.



Tools for thought The history and future of mind-expanding technology, by Howard Rheingold, © 1985, 2000. ISBN 0-262-68115-3. Read more at Amazon.com

The digital revolution did not begin with the teenage millionaires of Silicon Valley, claims Howard Rheingold, but with such early intellectual giants as Charles Babbage, George Boole, and John Von Neuman. In a highly engagin style, Rheingold tells the story of what he calls the patriarchs, pioneers, and infonauts of the computer, focusing in particular on such pioneers as J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Bob Taylor, and Alan Kay. Taking the reader step by step from nineteenth-century mathematics to comtemporary computing, he introduces a fascinating collection of eccentrics, mavericks, geniuses, and visionaries.

The book was originally published in 1985, and Rheingold's attempt to envision computing in the 1990s turns out to have been remarkably prescient. This edition contains an afterword, in which Rheingold interviews some of the pioneers discussed in the book. As an exercise in what he calls "retrospective futurism", Rheingold also looks back at how he looked forward.

Marc: An html version of the original 1985 text is available at the author's site.



Consilience The unity of knowledge, by Edward O. Wilson, © 1998. Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-679-45077-7. Read more at Amazon.com

In this groudbreaking new book, the American biologist Edward O. Wilson, considered to be one of the world's greatest living scientists, argues for the fundamental unity of all knowledge and the need to search for consilience--the proof that everything in our world is organized in terms of a small number of fundamental natural laws that comprise the principles underlying every branch of learning.

Professor Wilson, the pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, now once again breaks out of the conventions of current thinking. He shows how and why our explosive rise in intellectual mastery of the truths of our universe has its roots in the ancient Greek concept of an intrinsic orderliness that governs our cosmos and the human species--a vision that found its apogee in the Age of Enlightenment, then gradually was lost in the increasing fragmentation and specialization of knowledge in the last two centuries. Drawing on the physical sciences and biology, anthropology, psychology, religion, philosophy, and the arts, Professor Wilson shows why the goals of the original Enlightenment are surging back to life, why they are reappearing on the very frontiers of science and humanities scholarship, and how they are beginning to sketch themselves as the blueprint of our world as it most profoundly, elegantly, and excitingly is.



A Twist of the wrist, volumes I & II by Keith Code, California Superbike School, © 1993. Acrobat Books.ISBN 0-918226-31-7. Read more at Amazon.com volume 1 volume 2

A Twist of the Wrist, the acknowledged number one book on rider improvement for ten years straight, brought riders worldwide to a new understanding of vital skills. Twist, volume II, uncovers and traces, action by action, the direct links between man and machine.

Keith Code has trained more riders than anyone in the world. His training and teaching methods are responsible for scores of victories by top riders around the globe. Keith's unique ability to unravel complexities and establish simple, essential principles, provides both street and race riders with real tools to think about, and understand for themselves, the problems of riding.

For a sample of Keith Code's ideas, read his articles in "Keith's Corner" at the California Superbike School site.



Born To Run by Christopher McDougall, © 2009, published by Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 0-307-26630-9. Read more at Amazon.com

Marc: Learning or re-learning to run barefoot is a great joy, and will do wonders for your running form.



There Are No Electrons by Kenn Amdahl, © 1991, published by Clearwater Publishing Company, Inc, ISBN 0-9627815-9-2. Read more at Amazon.com

"Fascinating and fun! We all feel somewhat dumb when it comes to electronics. There Are No Electrons would be a proper tonic for this ignorance" - Ray Bradbury, author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, etc



The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, © 1966. Read more at Amazon.com

Heinlein's gripping tale of revolution on the moon in 2076, where "Loonies" are kept poor and oppressed by an Earth-based Authority that turns huge profits at their expense. A small band of dissidents, including a one-armed computer jock, a radical young woman, a past-his-prime academic and a nearly omnipotent computer named Mike, ignite the fires of revolution despite the near certainty of failure and death.