May 23, 2006

My Independent Education: A Summer Reading List

The final day of obligation has passed. I am now free to enjoy my summer sans forced education. I thought I would make a list of books and papers that I want to read this summer, and hopefully you can leave me a list of your summer reading plans.

So, here goes:

I started this about mid-semester, so first of all I want to finish A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It's not the complexity that is attractive about this book, but the volume of research the man had to do. As he states in the forward, he knew virtually nothing about science, not even "the difference between a proton and a protein."

I bought Richard Fortey's Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth a year ago or so, just never got around to reading it.

Bodanis is one of my favorite authors of all time. Electric Universe and E=MC^2 were lucid, elegant explanations of complicated science. This is the only book I have not read by Bodanis (he is releasing a new book in October of this year, called Passionate Minds).

E. O. Wilson is one of the great naturalists of our time. The Future of Life is sure to be another strong book from Wilson as he preaches to the choir; the only people that read books about conservation are already conservationists, unfortunately.

Love him or hate him, Richard Dawkins writes a damn good book about evolution. He can be a harsh critic of western religion, but perhaps it is time that western religion needs a critic to cut through the fanaticism.

We just finished watching Dawkins' documentary on religion - The Root of All Evil? (the link will take you to another post where you can download the 2-part series) - in which he analyzes the dangers of religion. I don't entirely agree with the guy, but he does make some excellent points.

Other summer reads:

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown: Still haven't read this one...

The Foundation Novels by Isaac Asimov: I stopped midway through Second Foundation.

Nightfall by Isaac Asimov: Supposedly one of the greatest sci-fi short stories ever written.

There are also about 10 or 15 papers and essays lying around my office that I have not had time to read in the past few months. I'll post links to the more interesting of the bunch.

What are you reading this summer?

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