Books – Non-fiction

Here are some non-fiction books that I recommend.

These are listed in no particular order.

The Blind Watchmaker
Richard Dawkins
(evolution of complex biological structures such as an eye)

The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins
(primacy of genotype versus phenotype)

Richard Feynman
(the quantum interactions between photons and electrons)

The Meme Machine
Susan Blackmore
(memes are to ideas what genes are to phenotypes/inheritance)

The Language Instinct
Steven Pinker
(on the universal properties of language, and our linguistic hard-wiring)

James Gleick
(popular introduction to chaotic dynamical systems)

Catastrophe Theory
Alexander Woodcock & Monte Davis
[small, maths]
(introduction to discrete state transitions in continuous systems with hysteresis)

John Allen Paulos
(on the widespread lack of an understanding of numerical data)

Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
(unusual applications of economics theory to everyday life)

God is not Great
Christopher Hitchens
(a wide survey of the problems with religions)

Phantoms in the Brain
V. S. Ramachandran
(includes: phantom limbs; the ‘God spot’)

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
Oliver Sacks
(case studies of brain functions that are not apparent until they fail)

The Man Who Tasted Shapes
Richard E. Cytowic
(on synæsthesia)

Mapping the Mind
Rita Carter
(superb book on brain function)

A New Kind of Science
Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica fame)
(theory of automata)

John H. Conway, Richard K. Guy
(maths; wide range of topics about number systems)

On Numbers and Games
John H. Conway
(maths: the single-step generation of ‘surreal numbers’: numbers, infinities and infinitesimals)

Surreal Numbers
Donald Knuth
(lighter book on the surreals, presented as a story)

Winning Ways (for your Mathematical Plays)
John H. Conway, Richard K. Guy, Elwyn R. Berlekamp
(game theory and surreal numbers)

40 Tales of the Afterlives
David Eagleman
(many very short stories presenting possibilities for the form of the afterlife)
I’m not really sure if this ought to be classed as fiction, but it reads more like philosophy

Not on the Label
Felicity Lawrence
(all that you didn’t, and don’t want to, know about food production across the globe)

Watching the English
Kate Fox
(you may not realise just how peculiar we are as a nation)


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