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Old 03-13-2011, 12:52 PM   #16
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One of the best books I read last year was In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. Truly engaging story and I learned quite a bit.

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Old 03-13-2011, 03:13 PM   #17
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I'd recommend Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. It's a fascinating take on why some people succeed and others don't, the main idea being that it isn't a matter of raw talent.

The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump is also fascinating. If you can get past his bravado and cockyness, you can learn a lot of very interesting things from it.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:27 PM   #18
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I just finished "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach. It's a well researched and very down to earth (irony not intended) look into how to get humans into space and keep them healthy there. There is a fair bit of potty humor so if that sort of thing puts you off you may not enjoy it as much.
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She has a few great books. I really enjoyed Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In spite of the topic, it's very entertaining and even funny at times.
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Old 03-15-2011, 03:52 PM   #19
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Some suggestions below. Although you might think some of these books sound boring, they really are great books that introduce you all sorts of things beyond just the main topic.

Stiff by Mary Roach: You'll learn all about cadavers.

Disappearing Spoon: You'll learn about the periodic table (much more interesting than it sounds).

Tulipomania by Mike Dash: You'll realize you should have been able to have foreseen the tech and housing bubbles and ensuing crashes (although it's too late).

Batavia's Graveyard by Mike Dash: Although it's about a shipwreck (the Essex recommendation above is excellent, btw), you'll learn quite a bit about culture and economics in the time of the East Indian Trading Company.

Salt by Mark Kurlansky: You'll learn all about salt.


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Old 03-15-2011, 07:31 PM   #20
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I would recommend:

Both collections of essays by David Foster Wallace, Consider the Lobster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. His writing is challenging but funny, entertaining and touches on some fundamental truths.

The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan. This stretches the limits of the book form, both visually and intellectually.

I also liked Nothing to Envy and another Granta book, How to Talk About Book's You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard.

All pretty full on reads, but well worth the mental effort.
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Old 03-15-2011, 08:13 PM   #21
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To intellectuals I always recommend "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" by Douglas Hofstadter. Not an easy read, probably took me months to finish back when, but very satisfying to me.
I think I purchased two separate copies (one for each apartment I had at the time) and began reading it about eight different times, to no avail.
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Old 03-15-2011, 10:55 PM   #22
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medical mysteries

Three interesting (non-fiction) medical mysteries:

The Monster Under the Microscope, about the discovery of antibiotics.

The Hot Zone, about microbe hunters and the Ebola outbreak in Reston Virginia

The Great Influenza, about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:08 PM   #23
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Three interesting (non-fiction) medical mysteries:
Another one, I highly recommend:

Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak by Jeanne Guillemin

I have not read Biohazard by Ken Alibek, which some Amazon reviewers suggest as an alternative. It isn't exactly a medical mystery, but I probably would buy it as an ebook if one was available.
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Old 03-16-2011, 01:39 AM   #24
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Another of Taleb's books that is very eye opening is Fooled by Randomness.

A interesting and fun book that I learned more about astronomy while reading is How I Killed Pluto and Why it Had it Coming by Mike Brown.

I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and it is a fascinating history of the woman and her cells that have been used in labs across the world for medical research.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:13 AM   #25
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When I want non-fiction I tend to gravitate toward biographical book as especially those related to science, sports or the discovery/invention/exploration.

I highly recommend Into Africa about the whole Stanly & Livingston relationship and adventure. Of course the other two titles which I recommended in this month's Book Club vote. One about Einstein and the other about Oppenheimer. Also there were a BUNCH of really interesting titles nominated this month all of them were non-fiction which works nicely for ya.

I am really motivated to read the book about Cleopatra as well.

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=123871
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:20 AM   #26
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I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and it is a fascinating history of the woman and her cells that have been used in labs across the world for medical research.
I second the recommendation for this one. It's an eye-opening account, not only of scientific progress and how it often clashes with ethics, but also of the racial barriers Lacks and her family faced within the medical community, both during her treatment and afterwards.
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Old 03-16-2011, 10:15 AM   #27
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Try any Malcolm Gladwell book.
My personal favorite from him is Blink.
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Old 03-16-2011, 02:59 PM   #28
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Okay, I'll suggest something more accessible than my last, Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel." It was a fascinating attempt to explain a very broad sweep of history, why some populations thrived more than others. Some of his theories are hotly debated but it was well researched and presented.
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Old 03-16-2011, 08:54 PM   #29
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One of the best books I read last year was In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. Truly engaging story and I learned quite a bit.
I listened to that on on audio from the library. It was excellent.

I reccomend Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade, Collapse by Jared Diamond, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, and 1491 by Charles C. Mann. I found all to be engrossing and educational.
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Old 03-16-2011, 09:17 PM   #30
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I recently read The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski, on the evolution of bookshelves and other book storage strategies. He starts with scrolls, and ends just before ebooks. I was fascinated.
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