TOP TEN: Wayne T. Watson, Nevada City
These are high on my list of favorites from recent years and are books that are still available for purchase. I’ve particularly enjoyed reading the authors cited. They have all written many interesting books that I would recommend.
1. “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan. The importance of science and its role in history and modern life.
2. “The Mind’s Sky” by Timothy Ferris. Typically a fine writer on astronomical themes, Ferris explores human perception from inside the brain to a cosmological view, including thoughts on Joe Montana’s exceptional pre-motor cortex (coordinates action sequences for the brain)!
3. “The Story of B” by Daniel Quinn. A continuation of Quinn’s influential Ishmael, the philosophical gorilla, with more challenges to the reader regarding what he thinks he knows about the past and future of civilization.
4. “The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” by Richard Feynman. An insightful collection of essays by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and occasional practical joker on science and its role in modern society.
5. “Mother Tongue” by Bill Bryson. Words, words and more words. Informative and humorously written about language and its development. English, French, German and others share in the revelations about words.
6. “A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper” by John Allen Paulos. Hardly an equation here. Paulos examines newspaper stories on social themes, business, health, sports, medicine, environment and politics. Easily understood mathematics plays an important role in unlocking their truth, told with a sense of humor.
7. “The Discovers” by Daniel J. Boorstin. An endlessly fascinating history of thousands of years of scientific discovery and those who made it possible.
8. “Dinosaur in a Haystack” by Stephen J. Gould. A famous paleontologist’s exceptional essays on museums, evolution, metaphors, Edgar Allen Poe’s only profitable book, dinomania, counting beetles, fossil hunting, and a variety of science topics.
9. “Coming into the Country” by John McPhee. The colorful and rich history of Alaska up through about the time it became a state.
10. “Reading the Mind of God” by James Trefil. Another fine explanation from Trefil on how matters of science, and in this case the universe, work. Get yourself 22 pounds of matter and you, too, can start a whole new universe! Find out how something can be created from nothing.
“My Top Ten” appears each Tuesday. Want to share your top 10 – songs, movies, TV shows, books, whatever? Send your list to My Top Ten, The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945 or e-mail it to
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