Monday, February 8, 2010

Favorite Nonfiction Books

My writing teacher, Jim Molnar, wanted us to each create a list of our favorite nonfiction books. Here's mine:

John Adams by David McCullough; Simon & Schuster, 2001, paperback. ISBN: 0-7432-2313-6. This wonderful history gave me new insight into the forces and personalities that formed our nation, and a hearty admiration and respect for John Adams’ role in its founding.

Enter the Zone by Barry Sears, Ph.D with Bill Lawren; Harper Collins, 1995, hardcover. ISBN: 0-06-039150-2. Dr Spears makes a convincing argument about the need to “avoid the dangers of bad carbohydrates”to balance hormone and insulin levels and provides detailed information about a suggested diet. Following this diet has helped address of several health issues that I had been experiencing.

Freakonomics: A Rougue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner; Harper Collins, 2005, hardcover. ISBN:0-06-073132-X. This engaging book has taught me to look “under the covers” of the obvious to look for the real mechanism that may be operating in a socio-cultural situation.

Future Shock by Alvin Toffler; Bantam, 1970.ISBN-13: 978-0553277371. When I read it in the 1970s, this book helped me realize that our society was entering a phase of unprecedented change. It also helped me understand that the stresses we have subsequently experienced over the last 30 years as a result are also unprecedented in human history.

Necessary Wisdom: Meeting the Challenge of a New Cultural Maturity by Charles M. Johnston, MD; ICD Press, 1991, paperback. ISBN: 0-89087-650-9. Dr Johnston introduces a theory of social evolution and identifies our place in it as well as the vital issues we must address in our time to remain and healthy and viable society. It is a surprisingly prescient book, and accurately forecasts many of the trends we have seen play out in our society over the last19 years since the book was published.

Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds by Chris Chester; University of Utah Press, 2002, hardcover. ISBN: 0-8748; 0-742-5.This delightful memoir gave me a new appreciation for the intelligence and emotional life of birds and more generally of all living things on this planet.It has reminded me to tread lightly upon the earth for I share it with other species just as deserving of an unsullied place in it as I.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carlson; originally published in1962 - Mariner Books; Anv edition (October 22, 2002). ISBN-13:978-0618249060. Rachel Carlson investigated the strange disappearance of many birds and discovered the cause was the use of DDT, dieldrin and other pesticides.Not only were birds being poisoned, but other animals and humans as well. This book helped launch the environmental movement.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barak Obama; Vintage, 2006, paperback. ISBN: 978-0-307-45587-1. Obama showcases considerable scholarship regarding the causes of many events and political situations around the modern world. It gave me a much better understanding of American politics.

The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace by M. Scott Peck, MD; Simon& Schuster, 1987, paperback. ISBN-13: 978-0684848587. Dr. Peck describes the process of community building, which can be used by mediators and others interested in helping resolve conflicts between individuals or groups.

The Humanization of Man by John Julian Ryan; Newman Press, 1972, paperback. Library of Congress Catalog Number: 72-79124. Written by an artist living in the woods of New Hampshire, this book became my “bible” during the years that I was involved in technical product development. It taught me that no product should be designed without careful attention to the marriage of form and function.

The Path of Least Resistance:Learning to Become a Creative Force in Your Own Life by Robert Fritz; Ballantine Books, 1989, hardcover. ISBN: 0-449-90337-0. This book has taught me how to visualize and actualize my goals. This may be the most important book I’ve ever read.

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier by Thad Carhart, Random House,2001, paperback. ISBN: 0-375-75862-3. A lovely memoir about pursuing a dream. It’s a wonderful story and teaches one a great deal about pianos.

A Theory of Personality: The Psychology of Personal Constructs by George Kelly, W.W. Norton & Co. (May 17, 1963) ISBN-13: 978-0393001525. Kelly theorized that we all create our own personal experience of reality via what he calls “constructs” and that we are not passive receivers of environmental or genetic influence, but rather have the ability to create our own selves to a far greater degree than previous theorists had allowed. This book is a favorite because Kelly breaks out of the corner than previous psychology theorists had painted themselves into and so allows new pathways for attaining healing and wholeness.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, University Of Chicago Press, 3rd edition (December 15, 1996). ISBN-13: 978-0226458083. If first read this book in college in 1974 and it has informed my thinking about scientific and social theory ever since. Kuhn described the process though which theories are born,mature, and supplanted by other theories. This is an essential read for anyone who is the slightest bit interested in understanding scientific thought.

The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking; Bantam Books, 2001, hardcover. ISBN: 0-553-80202-X. Stephen Hawking is so good at explaining the unexplainable. This is a good book for helping sort out some of the mysteries of modern physics, and it has great illustrations.

Thoreau on Man and Nature Arthur G Volkman, Peter Pauper Press, 1960, hardcover. No ISBN. A compilation by Volkman from the writings of Henry D. Thoreau. This is a collection if vignettes, with wonderful descriptive writing regarding various subjects. If I ever want to take brief excursion away from the urgency of the moment, I open this book and read a few lines from it.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose;Touchstone, 1996, paperback. ISBN: 0-684-82697-6. The title says it all. A wonderful story, well told.
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