Non Fiction Recommendations

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    _-Scarlett-_

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    Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by _-Scarlett-_ on Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:49 am

    There's nothing like the escape of a good story.  But sometimes I like to learn when I read.  I've come across several intriguing non-fiction books that I thought I would share.  Please feel free to share your own favorites.

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  Almost anyone who's ever taken a biology class has heard of HeLa cells.  These cells are the first human cells that scientists were able to grow in a petri dish indefinately.  This book talks about the history of these cells, how they were taken without permission from a poor black woman dying of cervical cancer and what they're impact has been on science since.  You don't need to be a scientist to read this.

    The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee.  This book is about basically what it says, the history of our understanding of cancer.  This oncologist mixes his personal experiences with cancer, with research on the evolution of cancer.  There's a physical history of cancer in ancient times (including a pharaoh who decided to lop off her breasts) and how its understood, to how its treated, and current research today.  Some parts are very science-y and the terminology would be a little difficult for those without a science background, but I found the book very engrossing and illuminating.

    Gulp: The Adventures of the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach.  This is a hilarious book about how we eat and digest food.  There's a section for sniffing, stomach digestion, and even farting.  An easy read that I highly recommend.

    And just so not all my books are science based, my last recommendation (for now) is Endurance: Shakleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.  This book is about Sir Ernest Shackleton's failed attempt to cross the Antarctic continent in 1914.  The ship was destroyed by ice floes and the men are stranded on ice for a year.  Read about their harrowing experience and how they survive.
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    DuDZiK

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by DuDZiK on Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:35 am

    Guns, Germs and Steel is probably the best non-fiction book I've read. It looks at history using evolution and other scientific concepts to explain why civilizations developed (or didn't) the way they did. Absolutely fascinating stuff.
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    talonnolan

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by talonnolan on Wed Sep 25, 2013 3:33 am

    I was going to recommend that Brian. Smile One of the best books I've read. I loved it.
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    _-Scarlett-_

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by _-Scarlett-_ on Wed Sep 25, 2013 9:30 am

    I'll have to check that out, thanks!

    Dinwar

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by Dinwar on Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:58 pm

    "Guns, Germs, and Steal" is good, but take it with a heafty dose of salt. Much of what's said is speculative, and I've read many good counter-arguments. It gets you thinking, but the answers aren't as simple as they appear, as I understand it (don't ask for specifics, I'm going off of a number of conversations through the years, including several which involved the phrase "Watch out, an excavator is coming at us").

    Sir Edward Pellew's biography (Life of Admiral Viscout Exmouth) is worth a read to anyone interested in the age of wooden sailing ships. The man was every bit as facinating as his fictional counterparts, if not more so (sorry, but as much a fan as I am of Hornblower's books the main character is too emo for my taste).

    "Darwin's Century" is a fantastic book on the history of evolutionary thought. The typical story we hear is that Darwin wrote "On the Origin of the Species" and that's it. The reality is far more nuanced, with Darwin playing a much less central role. He was important, but honestly by the time he came around evolutionary theory in some form was inevitable; pretty much everyone was working on it.

    For the more paleo-minded folks out there I highly recommend Shipman's "Life History of a Fossil". It's an introduction to taphonomy, a facinating field of science still really in its infancy. Basically, it outlines how a bone goes from being part of a living animal to being a fossil. It's dated, sure--the field has advanced over the past few decades. But still, it serves as a very good introduction to an incredibly complex, but absolutely critical, field of study.
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    _-Scarlett-_

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by _-Scarlett-_ on Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:55 am

    Could the Life of Admiral Viscount Exmouth have been written by Edward Osler? (I'm adding all these books to my Goodreads queue)

    Dinwar

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by Dinwar on Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:03 pm

    Hm. I may have given the wrong title. It's sitting on the middle shelf at my office back home; unfortunately, I'm 120 miles from there just now...
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    Trelane

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by Trelane on Thu Oct 31, 2013 5:33 pm

    1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann.
    I found it to be a very entertaining and informative book about what life in the Americas was like before the arrival of the Europeans. About how with recent discoveries and theories how the native populations were larger and more advanced than previously thought. A very thought provoking read.
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    GeneralBensGirl

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by GeneralBensGirl on Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:43 am

    I have been enjoy a couple of books recently that really gave some good thought provoking ideas and understanding into morality and empathy.

    First one: The Atheist and The Bonobo by Frans De Waal. This book is amazing! He proves that morality and empathy are not just a human thing but many animals show the same type of empathy as we do. He blames both religion and science equally for their part in misinformation about who we really are. Plus, I love the bonobos! It's just a really neat book.

    Second: Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steven Hagen. It's from an atheist perspective on Buddhism. He talks in plain terms and I learned a lot from this book.

    I also gotten into anthropology a bit, particularly sexual behaviors and ancient cultures vs modern cultures. I'd recommend Sex At Dawn by Christopher Ryan..bombshell of a book about sex. Basically he says we were all meant to be in strong-bonded long term relationships but not monogamous relationships. Truly fascinating stuff. There are some others too like that but I can't think of them right now. lol Oh, and someone else mentioned Guns, Germs and Steel. That one was good as well.

    Oh current issues....Drone Warfare, Dirty Wars, Way of the Knife..to name just a few.

    Anyway, that's my recommendations. I've been really learning a lot since I've become an atheist and opened my eyes to the reality of the world around us. Pretty cool!!!Very Happy 


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    Seraph

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    Re: Non Fiction Recommendations

    Post by Seraph on Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:19 am

    The Slightest Philosophy by Quee Nelson - a defense of naive realism in the dialogue style. If you are interested in the basis of epistemology/metaphysics in regards to modern philosophy , but arent ready or interested in jargon-loaded academic texts, this is an excellent read. Accessible enough for any layman to read without any background in the subject, interesting and thoughtful - definitely in my top 3 non-fiction books.

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