Saber Taylor's homepage: Some nonfiction books that I've read before 2018
Alphabetical order, section
Autobiography / Biographical (general)
- Charles Darwin. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (1887).
- Benjamin Franklin: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791).
- Richard Feynman. Surely, You Are Joking Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think?. My remarks: Feynman is basically an assigned read for your first free thinker in science profiles.
- The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr..
- Editor: Bernard DeVoto. The Journals of Lewis and Clark.
- Simon Sebag-Montefiore. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (2004). My remarks: The motif theme is that Stalin is a train.
- Martin Dugard: The Last Voyage of Columbus: Being the Epic Tale of the Great Captain's Fourth Expedition, Including Accounts of Mutiny,
Shipwreck, and Discovery (2005). Amazon: Christopher Columbus, stripped of his title Admiral of the Ocean Seas, waits in chains in a
Caribbean prison built under his orders, looking out at the colony that he founded, nurtured, and ruled for eight years.
- Tim Jeal: Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer (2007). My remarks: The blood sharing with chiefs is medically interesting.
Autobiography / Biographical (tragic)
- Frederick Douglass. A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845).
- Alison Owings. Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich (1993).
- Siegfried Knappe. Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 (1993).
- Martin Gilbert. The Boys: The Story of 732 Young Concentration Camp Survivors (1997). Personal: I've read several books about the Holocaust. This was the most harrowing since it involves children.
- Meade, Marion: Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties (2005). Mortimer J. Adler: "Fame belongs to the great, the outstanding, the
exceptional, without regard to their virtue or vice. Infamy is fame no less than good repute." My remarks: I feel like the Algonquin Round Table was a
case of "Outstanding" not "Great" writers.
- Erik Larson: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (2003).
- Bird; Sherwin: American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005). My remarks: My favorite loan word in this book is the
German concatenation for "sitting flesh."
- David Leavitt: The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer (2006).
- Jon Krakaeur: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003).
- Robert Kanigel: The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (1991).
- Michael Tipper: Memory Power-Up: 101 Ways to Instant Recall - booklet (1999).
- Aristotle: "On Memory" - essay (ancient).
- Richard M. Restak: Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential (2001).
- Fisher; Ury: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (1981). Wikipedia: Members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Fisher and Ury focused on the psychology of negotiation in their method, "principled negotiation," finding acceptable solutions by determining which needs are fixed and which are flexible for negotiators. By 1987, the book had been adopted in several U.S.
school districts to help students understand "non-adversarial bargaining".
- Craig Storti: Speaking of India: Bridging the Communication Gap When Working with Indians (2007). Goodreads: With more than a dozen years of experience working between India and the Western world, author Craig Storti understands how misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and missed deadlines can impede business success.
- Faber; Mazlish: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk Audible: Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down-to-earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.
- Brown, Brene: The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connection, and Courage.
- M. Scott Peck: The Road Less Traveled
- Bourdain, Anthony: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. My remarks: In literature terms, this is a "kiosk" style cooking set of adventures.
- Buford: Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (2006). My remarks: A deep time approach to pasta making and cow butchery.
Engineering, general interest
- Randall Monroe: Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words (2015).
- David Macaulay The Way Things Work (1988).
- Donald Norman: The Design of Everyday Things (1988 / 2013).
- Rebecca Solnit: Men Explain Things to Me (2014). Wikipedia: The book is a collection of seven essays and "has become a touchstone of the feminist movement." The main essay in the book was cited in The New
Republic as the piece that "launched the term mansplaining."
- Lefevre: Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923). Wikipedia: First published in 1923, Reminiscences is a fictionalized account of the life of the securities trader Jesse Livermore. Despite the book's age, it continues to offer insights into the art of trading and speculation. In Jack Schwagers Market Wizards, Reminiscences was quoted as a major source of stock trading learning material for experienced and new traders by many of the traders who Schwager interviewed.
- Cramer: Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich (2006). Goodreads: Cramer walks investors through the key decisions they have to make: understanding their tolerance for risk and defining their goals, doing the essential homework on a stock, and knowing how to buy and sell stocks the right way.
Journalism, or Participatory Journalism, or Participatory Adventures (Modern era)
- Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). My remarks: Is evil, special? Arendt came up with the phrase, "the banality of evil," and this is the book to claim that evil is
- Cheryl Strayed: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). Wikipedia: Seeking self-discovery and resolution of her enduring grief and personal challenges, at age 26 Strayed set out on her
journey, alone and with no prior hiking experience.
- Martinez: The Boy Kings of Texas (2012) and My Heart Is a Drunken Compass (2014). Wikipedia: These books describe his difficult childhood in Brownsville, Texas, as well as his later struggles as an
- Christopher Hitchens: Hitch-22: A Memoir (2010)
- Artie Lang: Too Fat to Fish. My remarks: "Poor me."
- Neil Strauss: The Game.
- Wheaton, Wil: Dancing Barefoot with the Stars. My remarks: So much to say that I probably shouldn't. I guess the rest of the cast excluded him. He's a nerd icon.
- Breslin, Jimmy: The Good Rat: A True Story (2008).
- Twigger, Robert: Angry White Pyjamas: A Scrawny Oxford Poet Takes Lessons from the Tokyo Riot Police (2000). My remarks: In
this book, the lessons of the dojo are difficult but the practice zone tends to be in the bar district, as described by the Oxford poet who participated in their riot training.
- Thompson, Hunter: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 (1973). My remarks: If you enjoy HST, then the
gonzo graphic novel to read with signifying byline, Warren Ellis is Transmetropolitan.
- Hseuh: Chineasy (2013). By combining a few basic Chinese characters, one can construct many more 'compound' and 'phrase' and even sentences.
- Stephen King: Danse Macabre (1981). Wikipedia on the "dance of death": The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or a personification of death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the
grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and laborer.
- D. Aviva Rothschild: Graphic Novels: A Bibliographic Guide to Book-Length Comics (1995).
- Whitlark, James: Behind the Great Wall: A Post-Jungian Approach to Kafkaesque Literature.
- Benedict de Spinoza: Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order (1677). Wikipedia: Man, according to Spinoza, is active or free in so far as any experience is the outcome solely of his own nature; he is passive,
or a bondsman, in so far as any experience is due to other causes besides his own nature. The active feelings are all of them forms of self-realisation, of heightened activity, of strength of mind, and are therefore always
pleasurable. It is the passive feelings (or "passions") which are responsible for all the ills of life, for they are induced largely by things outside us and frequently cause that lowered vitality which means pain. Spinoza next
links up his ethics with his theory of knowledge, and correlates the moral progress of man with his intellectual progress.
- Emerson: Essays (1841). Wikipedia: Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote several books of essays, commonly associated with transcendentalism and romanticism.
- Victor Frankyl: Man's Search for Meaning (1959). Audible: At the core of his theory is the belief that man's primary motivational force is his search for meaning.
- William B. Irvine: A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (2008). Goodreads: Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and
how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content
with what we have.
- Burns, David: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (1980). My remarks: This is a good CBT book.
- Sagan, Carl: "A New Way to Think about Rules to Live By" (1993). My remarks: I think this essay should be mandatory reading.
- Sagan, Carl: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995). Wikipedia: [This] is a 1995 book by astrophysicist Carl Sagan, in which the author aims to explain the scientific method to
laypeople, and to encourage people to learn critical and skeptical thinking.
- Sheldon B. Kopp: If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage Of Psychotherapy Patients (1982).
- Peck, Scott: The Road Less Traveled (1978). Wikipedia: The Road Less Traveled is Peck's best-known work, and the one that made his reputation. It is, in short, a description of the attributes that
make for a fulfilled human being, based largely on his experiences as a psychiatrist and a person.
- Arnold Kling: The Three Languages of Politics (2013). Goodreads: Progressives, conservatives, and libertarians use different languages to justify their beliefs. This increases polarization. This book enables
readers to better understand different points of view.
- Christopher Hitchens: Arguably: Essays (2011)
- George Carlin: When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004). Wikipedia: In general, the tone of the book is darker and more critical than his previous books in terms of its outlook on politics and society. Also,
much of the book is focused on euphemisms, both as used in advertising and in politically correct language.
- George Orwell: "Politics and the English Language" (1946). My remarks: It took me a few years after reading this and then going back to it to become convinced that his evaluation was true. That the bad rhetoric samples
he presented were in fact bad. I would point to this as an add-on of the Carlin book.
- George Orwell: "You and the Atomic Bomb" (1945). My remarks: See also the Richard Rhodes books (CONTROL+F) on how to actually make nuclear weapons, and the psychology of Manhattan Project scientists.
- George Orwell: Animal Farm
- George Orwell: 1984.
- D, T: Life at the Bottom. Goodreads: In the end, if one really wants to hear what this man has to say on poverty, they'd be better off finding the nearest conservative tabloid. It will give about the same effect, and be just
as convincing, though the writing may not be as good.
- Kevin Mitnick: The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security (2003). My remarks: The telephone is the weakest link in computer security.
- Joseph Menn: Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who are Bringing Down the Internet (2010). Goodreads: Menn shows the evolution of cyber-crime from small-time thieving to sophisticated, organized gangs, who began by attacking corporate websites but increasingly steal financial data from consumers and defense secrets from governments.
- Christian Rudder: Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking) (2014). Audible: For centuries, we've relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters.
- Mechner, Jordan: The Making of Karateka: Journals 1982-1985.
- David Kushner: Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (2003). Wikipedia: It's about id
Software and its influence on popular culture, focusing chiefly on the company's co-founders John D. Carmack and John Romero. My
remarks: I would take the "good guy" and "bad guy" aspect with a grain of salt, as it seems to be for narrative effect.
Popular in Business
- Antony Jay: Harvard Business Review: "How to Run a Meeting" (1976).
Popular Science, contemporary
- Heinrich, Bernd Heinrich: One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives (2016).
- Greenberg, Robert: How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. (Great Courses)
- David Quammen. The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction (1997).
- Vilayanur S. Ramachandran. Phantoms in the Brain (1998).
- Temple Grandin: Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (2001).
- Temple Grandin: Thinking in Pictures (1995).
- B. Weinberg. The World of Caffeine; The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug (2002).
- Pollan, Michael: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2007) and In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2009).
- Taubes. Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (2010). Audible: Taubes argued that our diet's overemphasis on certain kinds of carbohydrates - not fats and not simply excess calories - has led directly to the
obesity epidemic we face today.
- Marzluff; Angell: Gifts of the Crow: How Perception, Emotion, and Thought Allow Smart Birds to Behave Like Humans (2012).
- Koch, Kristof: Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist (2012). Goodreads: Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest
- his instinctual (if "romantic") belief that life is meaningful. Local: He is the president and chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, and also keeps a public reading list of
- Einstein, Albert: On the Special and General Theory of Relativity (A Popular Account)
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. My remarks: As a Shinto priestess the author says we can discards gifts from family that have become clutter, since temple charms wear out their spiritual power in 1 year too. That's a helpful thought.
- Trying Not to Try
- Pychyl, Tim: The Procrastinator's Digest. My remarks: I've read more productivity books than I'm willing to admit. This was the best one. The author is an active researcher who helps and studies students who procrastinate.
- The Power of Habit My remarks: My takeaway from this book is the value of what he calls "keystone habits."
- Willpower Instinct
- Baumeister: Willpower. My remarks: Later, other people said they couldn't reproduce his findings. Part of the replication crisis in psychology.
- Getting Things Done. My remarks: The part I still find helpful is to put down my to do list and finish a sub 5 minute task instead of writing it down for later.
- Mark Twain: Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896). Audible: Very few people know that Mark Twain wrote a major work on Joan of Arc. Still fewer know that he considered it not only his most important, but also his best work.
- Solomon Schimmel: The Seven Deadly Sins: Jewish, Christian, and Classical Reflections on Human Psychology (1997). Goodreads: This insightful and fascinating work guides us to master our passions rather than be enslaved by them so that we can become more humane and build a happier, caring society.
- James J. O'Donnell: Augustine: A New Biography (2005). Goodreads: The Augustines that O'Donnell sketches include the aspiring social climber who transferred his ambitions from society to church; the bitter and dogged polemicist; and "Don Quixote of Hippo," whose "fantasy world of earliest Christianity has come eerily to be real."
- Elaine Pagels: Gnostic Gospels
- Teresa of Avila: Interior Castle.
Science History of Antiquated World
- Sargant: Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brainwashing (1957).
- Richard Rhodes. The Making of the Atomic Bomb (1986). The "sequel" Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb (1995).
- Garland, Robert: The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World. (Great Courses)
- Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997). My remarks: Useful words for demarcation in this dialectic of analyzing empires, are deontological and teleological.
- Nicholas Wade: Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (2007).
- Neil Shubin: Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (2009).
- Peter Woit: Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory & the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics (2006).
- Charles Seife: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea (2000). My remarks: The first couple chapters of Mathematics: Its Contents, Methods and Meaning is good for understanding the naturalistic
explanation of counting numbers.
- Robert Paarlberg: The United States of Excess: Gluttony and the Dark Side of American Exceptionalism. Goodreads: Is it possible that America is hard-wired to consume too much food and fuel?
- My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937. Alekhine.
- The Art of the Middle Game
- Gallichio: The Fundamentals of Style
- Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder (1977).
- Stuart McRobert: Brawn (2007).
- Bass, Clarence: Ripped 3: The Recipes, The Routines and The Reasons (1986).
- Liebling: The Sweet Science (1956). Wikipedia: In 2002, Sports Illustrated named The Sweet Science, a collection of Liebling's essays on boxing, the number one sports book of all time.
- Gregg Valentino; Jendrick: Death, Drugs, and Muscle (2010). Goodreads: The book describes Valentino's involvement with bodybuilding and its association with steroids and underground behaviour.
- Colgan, Michael: Optimum Sports Nutrition: Your Competitive Edge: A Complete Nutritional Guide for Optimizing Athletic Performance (1993).
- Armstrong, Lance: It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (1999). Personal: I wore the "flair" of support for his cancer.
- Simon Winchester: Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 (2003).
- Misha Glenny: McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (2008). Goodreads: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the deregulation of international financial
markets in 1989, governments and entrepreneurs alike became intoxicated by forecasts of limitless expansion into newly open markets. No one would foresee that the greatest success story to arise from these events would be the
globalization of organized crime.
- Richard McGregor: The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers (2010). The author: If the "Central Organization Body" existed in the US, it "would oversee the appointment of the entire US cabinet, state governors and their deputies, the mayors of major cities, the heads of all federal regulatory agencies, the chief executives of GE, Exxon-Mobil, Wal-Mart
and about fifty of the remaining largest US companies, the justices of the Supreme Court, the editors of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, the bosses of the TV networks and cable stations, the presidents of Yale and Harvard and other big universities, and the heads of
think-tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation."
- Priest; Arkin: Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (2011). Audible: The top-secret world that the government created in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks has become so enormous, so unwieldy, and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs...
- Kissinger: On China (2011). Audible: The eminent historian and strategist reflects on how China's past illuminates its 21st-century trajectory, drawing on 40 years of intimate acquaintance with the country and its leaders.
"Also ran," manuals on writing, by publication date
- John Gardner: The Art of Fiction (1983). Wikipedia: He was famously obsessive with his work, and acquired a reputation for advanced craft, smooth rhythms, and careful attention to the continuity of the fictive dream. At one level or another, his books nearly always touched on the redemptive power of art.
- Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994). My remarks: This book is the one which pointed me to Gardner and Forster. Wikipedia: Marked by their self-deprecating humor and
openness, Lamott's writings cover such subjects as alcoholism, single-motherhood, depression, and Christianity.
- Scott: Writing Habit Mastery: How to Write 2,000 Words a Day and Forever Cure Writer's Block (2013).
- Michael Rogan: How to Write a Book That Doesn't Suck and Will Actually Sell (2014).
Manuals on writing, in rank order
- Forster: Aspects of the Novel (1927). Wikipedia: Aspects of the Novel is a book compiled from a series of lectures delivered by E. M. Forster at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1927, in which he discussed the English language novel. By using examples from classic texts, he highlights the seven
universal aspects of the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.
- Stephen King: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000). Wikipedia: On Writing is divided into five sections, each with a different focus. Although the first section narrates his life, King states that the section is not an autobiography, but more a curriculum vitae, owing to the sporadic nature of his
memories. Titled "C.V.", the section discusses events in King's life that contributed to his development as a writer, such as his early exposure to writing, his early attempts to get published, his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother, and his
history of drug and alcohol abuse. The second section is titled "What Writing Is". Comparing writing to telepathy, King briefly reintroduces himself and includes an example of literary description. King urges the reader to take writing and his advice seriously. The third section, titled
"Toolbox", discusses English mechanics and the importance of vocabulary, grammar, and style in writing. The fourth section, "On Writing", details King's advice on writing. The fifth and final section, "On Living: A Postscript", discusses the accident in 1999 in which King was struck by a van while
walking down Maine State Route 5.
- Stephen Pinker: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (2014). Wikipedia: An English style guide written by cognitive scientist, linguist, and best-selling popular science author Steven Pinker. Building upon earlier guides, such as Strunk & White's The
Elements of Style and Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, it applies science to the process of writing, and explains its prescriptions by citing studies in related fields - e.g., grammatical phenomena, mental dynamics, and memory load - as well as history and criticism, to "distinguish the rules
that enhance clarity, grace, and emotional resonance from those that are based on myths and misunderstandings".