For more information, click on the author for each book.
The Red Queen By Matt Ridley Why sex? Evolutionarily speaking, what is the benefit of sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction? Although this book isn't the simplest read, it is certainly interesting.
America (The Book) By John Stewart This horribly irreverent book by the writers of The Daily Show is absolutely hilarious. It is set up as a textbook, complete with review questions and classroom activities at the end of each chapter. Regardless of it's design, it is rude and largely untrue or at least over-stated for the sake of satire. 100% entertainment.
How Bluegrass Destroyed My Life By John Fahey John Fahey was an accomplished finger-style acoustic guitar player. He had quite a colorful lifestyle as an ergophobe (fear of employment) and marrying man (he had three wives, though not at the same time). He developed his writing style through his elaborate liner notes. In olden times, LP (a large vinyl disc that don't fit in a CD player but go snap, crackle, pop) covers conveyed information as well as being pieces of art on their own. This book is a collection of fabulously inane, but non-fictionally based short stories. As a bluegrass musician, I was first grabbed by the title but bluegrass doesn't factor in until the last chapter.
Trees In My Forest By Berndt Heinrich Dr. Heinrich is definitely someone I would like to meet. He spends much of his time making keen observations of wildlife and wildlife interactions (as well as climbing trees and long-distance running) on his 300 acre property of the Maine woods. This book is written almost as a journal with Dr. Heinrich's own drawings throughout.
Waiting for Aphrodite By Sue Hubbell I've read some short stories/essays from Mrs. Hubbell before. She is an excellent journalist/naturalist having written for Outside magazine as well as other publications. This book discusses the evolution and life histories of that vast group of organisms that we humans egocentrically subjugate into a group called "invertebrates". If popularity truly ruled, we'd be tromped into the ground by armies of arthropodan feet!
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest By Ken Kesey A great book as well as a great film this one deals with the treatment of patients in mental wards. Unlike many movie-book combos (see Fight Club below) this book gives reveals more of the individual characters (especially Chief Broom). If you haven't seen the film, wait. Read the book first. Even if you have seen it, read it too. Heck, I've seen it and read it and I'm readin' it again. On a side note, Ken Kesey used to, and continues to, drive around in a trippy bus and hang out with members of The Grateful Dead.
Fahrenheit 451 By Ray Bradbury A scary and eerily prophetic sci-fi novel that many of you have to read for class. It deals with more than just censorship but that's a good place to start when discussing this one. I saw a student reading this and asked them what they thought. They, of course, didn't like it. I remember liking it on my first read of it 15 or so years ago. It's short so I figured I'd give it another read.
You Are Being Lied To Edited By Russ Kick This book is a collection of essays, articles and interviews by a host of well-to-less-than-well-known writers and thinkers, such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Bloom. It is a compendium of conspiracy theories on a wide range of topics. Politically, this book is pretty far to the left (radical?) and any material read should be held up to the same scrutiny and critique the authors themselves profess. The book is published by a group called Disinformation. Careful though. Some pretty wild stuff.
Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History By Stephen Jay Gould A Professor at Harvard for many years, Dr. Gould was probably the best known and most prolific evolutionary biologist authors of all time. This book is a collection of essays that deal with different aspects of evolution and evolutionary biologists.
Stiff By Mary Roach This one comes thanks to Laura Van Alst. It deals with the interesting "lives" that cadavers lead. Not for the squeamish, this one combines some of my most favorite adjectives: macabre, hilarious and informative.
Wicked By Gregory Maguire Ms. Law (her "most excellent" site is here) and I often exchange good reading material. This is one of 'em. Ever see a movie that was also a book and say to yourself "the book was better"? This story takes the whole movie-book thing a step further. It's the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from her perspective. Dorothy and Co. don't show up until the very end. A great read.
The Closing of the American Mind By Alan Bloom Professor of sociology, co-director of the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, Bloom's book is a study of the narrowing scope of "permissable" intellectual criticism and discovery in universities, and a reduction of the rigor of their curriculum, as effects of rampant humanism and the declining importance of morality in these institutions. This book is not what you might call "light reading".
Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year By David M. Carroll No other book has inspired me to go wandering out in the woods/swamps than reading this book. Organized as a collection of journal excerpts, Mr. Carroll's love of murky places is closely matched with his knowledge of plant and animal species as well as their natural histories. The pencil sketches throughout the book, also by Mr. Carroll, are as gorgeous as they are meticulously exact.
Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds By George W. Hudler Human society has been greatly influenced by fungi. From their role in nutrient cycling in the environment to bread to yeast infections we are all dependant on these crafty organisms. A great, non-technical account of a fabulous group of living things
Aquagenesis By Richard Ellis If you are at all interested in the origins of life in the oceans, this is is a good one. Rather academic but interesting.
Fight Club By Chuck Palahniuk This book was recommended to me by Sarah Bautochka. I thought the movie was fabulous and it changed my view of Brad Pitt. Reading the book was like seeing the movie so I didn't gain any extra insight into the characters. A decent read if not rather violent.
The River Why By David James Duncan Anyone who has gone fishing will appreciate this one, although you don't have to be an angler to get a kick out of this one. The fictional autobiography of a devout fly-fisherman. Hilarious.
Animal Dreams By Barbara Kingsolver This novel is about a young woman who returns to her home town in New Mexico to find a new career as, of all things, a biology teacher. She ends up doing a lot of soul searching too.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix By J. K. Rowling Hey, I need some light reading too!! So they're not the most eloquent books written. Anything that gets kids to line up at bookstores for a book and not tickets to see Nelly is fabulous in my book.
The Color of Water By James McBride I read this one in one day, not because I'm such a fast reader. This book is just that good. This is an incredible story about a black man growing up with his white, Jewish mother and 11 other brothers and sisters. James McBride is also an accomplished jazz saxophonist.
Flu By Gina Kolata This book describes the flu epidemic of 1918. Over 1.5 million Americans died in three or four months! Better reading than it sounds.
Bag of Bones By Stephen King No. This has nothing to do with science. But I couldn't put it down. I've read quite a bit of Stephen King's books. This one is great!
The Antibiotic Paradox By Stuart B. Levy Have you ever been prescribed antibiotics by a doctor? Ever taken antibiotics that weren't prescribed to you? Do you know what an antibiotic is? Important stuff that impacts your life.
Biophilia By Edward O. Wilson This is a classic. The SAT vocabulary used doesn't make this easy to read but, it is beautiful.