My Reading List - Books I have Read in 2020
Most Recently Read at the Top
The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense
Prof. Gad Saad
Dr. Gad Saad exposes how an epidemic of idea pathogens are spreading like a virus and killing common sense in the West. Serving as a powerful follow-up to Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life, Dr. Saad unpacks what is really happening in progressive safe zones, why we need to be paying more attention to these trends, and what we must do to stop the spread of dangerous thinking. A professor at Concordia University who has witnessed this troubling epidemic first-hand, Dr. Saad dissects a multitude of these concerning forces (corrupt thought patterns, belief systems, attitudes, etc.) that have given rise to a stifling political correctness in our society and how these have created serious consequences that must be remedied - before it’s too late.
The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains
Dr. Joseph LeDoux
Renowned neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux digs into the natural history of life on earth to provide a new perspective on the similarities between us and our ancestors in deep time. This page-turning survey of the whole of terrestrial evolution sheds new light on how nervous systems evolved in animals, how the brain developed, and what it means to be human. In The Deep History of Ourselves, LeDoux argues that the key to understanding human behavior lies in viewing evolution through the prism of the first living organisms. By tracking the chain of the evolutionary timeline he shows how even the earliest single-cell organisms had to solve the same problems we and our cells have to solve each day. Along the way, LeDoux explores our place in nature, how the evolution of nervous systems enhanced the ability of organisms to survive and thrive, and how the emergence of what we humans understand as consciousness made our greatest and most horrendous achievements as a species possible.
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate - Discoveries from a Secret World
Dr. Peter Wohlleben
In The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests and explains the amazing processes of life, death and regeneration he has observed in the woodland and the amazing scientific processes behind the wonders, of which we are blissfully unaware.
Much like human families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them and support them as they grow, sharing nutrients with those who are sick or struggling and creating an ecosystem that mitigates the impact of extremes of heat and cold for the whole group.
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, Origins explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit rover's exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter's moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance.
Your Inner Fish - A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
Dr. Neil Shubin
Neil Shubin, a leading paleontologist and professor of anatomy who discovered Tiktaalik - the “missing link” that made headlines around the world in April 2006 - tells the story of evolution by tracing the organs of the human body back millions of years, long before the first creatures walked the earth. By examining fossils and DNA, Shubin shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our head is organized like that of a long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genome look and function like those of worms and bacteria.
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True
Dr. Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day? The myths that address these questions are beautiful, but in every case their beauty is exceeded by the scientific truth.
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
Dr, Richard Dawkins
Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. Now the author of the iconic work The God Delusion takes them to task. The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design", explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics. Combining these elements and many more, he makes the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection."
Here are the thrills, grandeur, and unabashed fun of the Greek myths, stylishly retold by Stephen Fry. The legendary writer, actor, and comedian breathes life into ancient tales, from Pandora's box to Prometheus's fire, and transforms the adventures of Zeus and the Olympians into emotionally resonant and deeply funny stories, without losing any of their original wonder. Learned notes from the author offer rich cultural context. This volume is a doorway into a captivating world.
The Selfish Gene
Dr. Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.
A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing
Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss
In this cosmological story that rivets as it enlightens, pioneering theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss explains groundbreaking scientific advances that turn the most basic philosophical questions on their head. One of the few prominent scientists to have actively crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss reveals that modern science is indeed addressing the question of why there is something rather than nothing—with surprising and fascinating results. The beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending theories are all described accessibly, and they suggest that not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing.
The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
Dr. Richard Dawkins
In The Ancestor's Tale, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins offers a masterwork: an exhilarating reverse tour through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life four billion years ago. Throughout the journey, Dawkins spins entertaining, insightful stories and sheds light on topics such as speciation, sexual selection, and extinction. The Ancestor's Tale is at once an essential education in evolutionary theory and riveting in its telling.
Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
Religious fundamentalists and biblical literalists present any number of arguments that attempt to disprove evolution. Those with a sympathetic ear often fail to critically examine these creationist claims, leading to an ill-informed public and, perhaps more troubling, ill-advised public policy. As Aron Ra makes clear, however, every single argument deployed by creationists in their attacks on evolution is founded on fundamental scientific, religious, and historical falsehoods - all of them. There is simply no truth to creationism whatsoever, and the entire enterprise rests on a foundation of falsehoods. This book explains and exposes the worst of these lies, and should be listened to by all who honestly care about following the evidence no matter where it might lead in pursuit of the truth.
The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design
Dr. Richard Dawkins
The Blind Watchmaker, knowledgably narrated by author Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the 18th-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin's brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte. Natural selection - the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered - is the blind watchmaker in nature.
Why Evolution Is True
Dr. Jerry A. Coyne
n all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant "intelligent design", there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned: the evidence, the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection. Why Evolution Is True weaves together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the "indelible stamp" of the processes first proposed by Darwin. In crisp, lucid prose accessible to a wide audience, Why Evolution Is True dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms that this amazing process of change has been firmly established as a scientific truth.
The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution
Dr. Henry Gee
In The Accidental Species, Henry Gee, longtime paleontology editor at Nature, takes aim at this misleading notion, arguing that it reflects a profound misunderstanding of how evolution works and, when applied to the evolution of our own species, supports mistaken ideas about our own place in the universe. Gee shows that our evolutionary outcome is one possibility among many, one that owes more to chance than to an organized progression to supremacy. He starts with bipedality, which he shows could have arisen entirely by accident, as a by-product of sexual selection, moves on to technology, large brain size, intelligence, language, and, finally, sentience.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Dr. Yuval Noah Harari
One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one - Homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas.
Ancient Civilizations of North America
Dr. Edwin Barnhart
For the past few hundred years, most of what we’ve been taught about the native cultures of North America came from reports authored by the conquerors and colonizers who destroyed them. Now - with the technological advances of modern archaeology and a new perspective on world history - we are finally able to piece together their compelling true stories. In Ancient Civilizations of North America, Professor Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center, will open your eyes to a fascinating world you never knew existed - even though you’ve been living right next to it, or even on top of it, for as long as you’ve been on the continent. The peoples of ancient North America were exceptionally knowledgeable about their environment, but their intellectual and artistic curiosity went much beyond the immediate need for food and safety.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
Robert A. Caro
Robert Caro's monumental book makes public what few outsiders knew: that Robert Moses was the single most powerful man of his time in the City and in the State of New York. But The Power Broker is first and foremost a brilliant multidimensional portrait of a man - an extraordinary man who, denied power within the normal framework of the democratic process, stepped outside that framework to grasp power sufficient to shape a great city and to hold sway over the very texture of millions of lives. How he first created a miraculous flowering of parks and parkways, playlands and beaches - and then ultimately brought down on the city the smog-choked aridity of our urban landscape, the endless miles of (never sufficient) highway, the hopeless sprawl of Long Island, the massive failures of public housing, and countless other barriers to humane living. How, inevitably, the accumulation of power became an end in itself.