A Blog Around The Clock

Favourite Science Books

i-710d005c8660d36282911838843a792d-ClockWeb logo2.JPGWow – this one is old: December 29, 2004. It is in a need of serious updating, not to mention providing amazon links so I can earn pennies if you click and buy. But, it is still a good list nontheless:

I have picked my top ten books on politics and have posted a long list of books before, and now, as I promised, here is my list of best science books. As I struggled so much to restrict myself to just 10 books on politics, and left out so many worthy titles, this time around I decided to cheat a little. Instead of Top 10 Science Books, I will make a meta-list of my top picks of books in each of the 6 science topics. Sorry – it is almost all biology due to the professional bias. I have restricted myself to books I own, and have read (at least big chunks) relatively recently (though some are so important I waived that last criterion). Also, I will just write titles – I am too lazy and tired right now to find all the links to amazon.com and anyway, I want to move from amazon to Powells these days in order to Buy Blue [Ed.: Darn, I still have not done that!]. So just google the titles, or copy and paste into your favourite online bookseller’s webpage search engine […or find another link on this blog and go from there]. Add your own (or criticize my choices) in the comments. Here we go:

1) Genetics Explained:
Stephen Rose – Lifelines
Richard Lewontin – The Triple Helix
Evelyn Fox Keller – The Century of the Gene
David Moore – The Dependent Gene
Jonathan Marks – What it means to be 98% chimpanzee
Lewontin, Rose and Kamin – Not In Our Genes
Dorothy Nelkin and M.Susan Lindee – The DNA Mystique
Ruth Hubbard abd Elijah Wald – Exploding the Gene Myth
…and once all these arm you against the seductive rhetoric of genetics, go and see the exciting stuff that geneticists have really found:
John Medina – The Genetic Inferno
Jonathan Weiner – Time, Love, Memory

2) Evolution for the 21st Century:
Stephen Jay Gould – The Structure of Evolutionary Theory
Susan Oyama – The Ontogeny of Information: Developmental Systems and Evolution
David Sloan Wilson and Elliott Sober – Unto Others
Robert Brandon – Adaptation and Environment
Susan Oyama – Cycles of Contingency : Developmental Systems and Evolution
Niles Eldredge – Reinventing Darwin
Terrence Deacon – The Symbolic Species
Stephen Jay Gould – Ontogeny and Phylogeny
Stephen Jay Gould – The Wonderful Life
Joan Roughgarden – Evolution’s Rainbow
Stuart Kauffman – At Home in the Universe
Carl Zimmer – Parasite Rex
Jonathan Weiner – The Beak of the Finch
Rudolf Raff – The Shape of Life
Evelyn Fox Keller and Elizabeth Lloyd – Keywords in Evolutionary Biology
Kenneth McNamara – Shapes of Time
Stephen R. Palumbi – The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change Misia Landau – Narratives of Human Evolution

3) Animals, Ecology and Natural History:
May Berenbaum – Buzzwords
May Berenbaum – Bugs in the System
R.J.Hoage – Perceptions of Animals in American Culture
Michael Rosenzweig – Win-Win Ecology
Matt Cartmill – A View to a Death in the Morning
Harriet Ritvo – The Animal Estate
Paul Shepard – The Others
Paul Shepard – Traces of the Omnivore
Deborah Gordon – Ants at Work
Niles Eldredge – Dominion
Stephen Budiansky -The Nature of Horses
Roger Caras – A Perfect Harmony
Keith Thomas – Man and the Natural World
Stephen Kellert – Kinship to Mastery
Julian McAllister Groves – Hearts and Minds
Alfred Crosby – Ecological Imperialism
Lester R. Brown – Eco-Economy: Building a New Economy for the Environmental Age

4) Physiology and Behavior:
Stephen Budiansky – If A Lion Could Talk
Marc Hauser – Wild Minds
Sara Shettleworth – Cognition, Evolution and Behavior
Mitchel, Thoompson and Miles – Anthropomorphism, Anecdotes and Animals
Robert Sapolsky – Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers
Robert Sapolsky – The Trouble With Testosterone
Robert Sapolsky – The Primate’s Memoir
Knut Schmidt-Nielsen – The Camel’s Nose
Bernd Heinrich – Mind of the Raven
Eric Widmaier – Why Geese Don’t Get Obese (and We Do)
J.Scott Turner – Extended Organism
Hochachka and Somero – Biochemical Adaptation
Gopnik, Meltzoff and Kuhl – The Scientist in the Crib
Steven R. Quartz, Terrence J. Sejnowski – Liars, Lovers, and Heroes
R Jourdain – Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy : How Music Captures Our Imagination

5) Health, Medicine, Clocks, Sleep, Aging and Death:
Mary Roach – Stiff
M.Lee Goff – A Fly for the Prosecution
Hal Hellman – Great Feuds in Medicine
Michael Gershon – The Second Brain
Rudolph Nesse and George Williams – Why We Get Sick
Leonard Hayflick – How and Why We Age
Roger Gosden – Cheating Time
Sherwin Nuland – How We Die
Peter Breggin – Talking Back to Prozac
Carl Zimmer – Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain-and How It Changed the World
Andrea Rock – The Mind at Night
Russell Foster – Rhythms of Life
Jay Dunlap, Jennifer Loros and Patricia DecCoursey – Chronobiology
John Palmer – The Living Clock
Michael Smolensky – The Body Clock Guide to Better Health
Martin Moore-Ede – The Twenty Four Hour Society
A.Alvarez – Night
William Dement – The Promise of Sleep
Stanley Coren – Sleep Thieves

6) Meta-science, Pseudo-science and Nonsense (sounds nicer than Miscellaneous or “Other”):
David Sloan Wilson – Darwin’s Cathedrals
Frank Sulloway – Born to Rebel
Dean Keith Simonton – Origin of Genius
Michael Shermer – The Borderlands of Science
Steven Vogel – Cats’ Paws and Catapults
Richard Lewontin – It Ain’t Neccessarily So
Richard Lewontin – Biology as Ideology
R.Lewontin and R.Levin – The Dialectical Biologist
Stephen Jay Gould – Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle
Stephen Jay Gould – Rocks of Ages
Stephen Jay Gould – The Hedgehog, The Fox, The Magister’s Pox
Stephen Jay Gould – Full House
Stephen Jay Gould – Mismeasure of Man
Clara Pinto-Correia – The Ovary of Eve
Evelyn Fox-Keller – Re-Inventing Life
Kim Sterelny and Paul Griffiths – Sex and Death
David Livingstone – Putting Science in its Place
Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs and Steel
Michael Shermer – Why People Believe Weird Things
Carl Sagan – The Demon-Haunted World
Richard Pennock – The Tower of Babel
Barbara Carroll Forrest and Paul R. Gross – Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
Michael Shermer – How We Believe
Phillip Kitcher – Abusing Science
Martin Gardner – Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus


  1. #1 Markk
    August 24, 2006

    Just on the Natural History front I would put “Trilobite” and “Life” by Fortey. Also I thought “Extinction” … by ??? about the Permian extinction was a well done look at how competing theories can be described with their plusses and minuses.

  2. #2 greensmile
    August 24, 2006

    I am full of envy.

  3. #3 coturnix
    August 25, 2006

    Envy? For having read all those books, or for owning most of them?

  4. #4 coturnix
    August 31, 2007

    Some of the books are on the list because they are provocative and will make you think differently, not because I agree with them 100%.

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