“The limits of your language are the limits of your world.”

A good read

This is a list of some good books we've read and had time to look up the info and post something semi-inteligent. We often are forced to dig through free-book exhanges cluttered with romance novels trying to find a gem in the dreck. So while most of these books are not earth shattering literature, we did enjoy reading them for one reason or another.

We currently have 35 books listed on our page.

The Selfish Gene

Wednesday Nov 30, 2011

All Richard Dawkins Books

978-0199291151

An interesting analysis of gene survival and tactics. Using a variety of modern theories, including game theory, Dawkins sets out to prove our survival is linked to our gene's survival. And we make our decisions based on our gene's needs. If you want a deeper insight into the world around you this book might help illuminate your path.

The God Delusion

Wednesday Nov 30, 2011

All Richard Dawkins Books

978-0618918249

If you've read Tao Te Ching, Koran, Bible, Book of Mormon, Tanakh, Kojiki, then you might want to take a look at this book. The God Delusion delves into the human needs and desires that cause us to default to a higher being. However as the book progresses there is a detailed examination of the "God" from all walks of life and how our lives would be better and more fulfilled with a more rational examination. He has some very good points that we should all ponder.

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths

Wednesday Nov 16, 2011

All Michael Shermer Books

978-0805091250

Have you ever wondered why superstitions and false ideas can be self propagating? This book explores the science about how we are designed to believe in patterns that don't reflect reality. The human brain is designed to believe things and then search out support for those ideas. Reading this book will open your mind to the serious flaws that make us human. A very well researched book with hilarious examples from neuroscience and psychology of our brains gone bonko. This book is very readable and he pulls no stops in examining religion, politics and conspiracies. Prehaps reading this you'll see a little of yourself in there somewhere, unless you're in serious denial....

Infidel

Wednesday Nov 16, 2011

All Ayaan Hirsi Ali Books

978-0743289696

The amazing story of a Somalian woman who escapes a dysfunctional family and an oppressive culture to build a new life for herself in the West. Her struggle to overcome a lifetime of prejudices is a powerful testament to rational thought. She rose to power in the Dutch Parliament and was persecuted by those she sought to escape. Truly an amazing achievement and a well told story. The only fault I found was she was unable to separate the negative cultural aspects of Islam and Africa from Islam itself. Just like Christians don't tend to practice the literal word of the bible, there are many Islamics that have found more compassionate ways to live. I digress. It's a great book about a powerful character who refused to settle.

Titan

Monday Feb 21, 2011

All Stephen Baxter Books

978-0061057137

This is an older book that we just happened to run across. While using the old space shuttle technology to get to Titan was a bit humorous to read, most of the ideas were sound and the book really pulls the reader into the story. What really impressed me was how he ended the story. Baxter out did himself with this brilliant ending to a complicated tale about humanity or the lack of it.

Flood

Saturday Dec 18, 2010

All Steven Baxter Books

978-0451463289

Steven Baxter always writes good hard science fiction. So I was surprised to see something that looks like a climate warming disaster book. But I knew it had to be something more interesting than that old tripe.

In fact he wasted no time in inventing an entirely new disaster scenario based on subterranean oceans. Then he spent some time making fun of the politics of science as the world begins to flood.

What I enjoyed most about this book is watching humanity realize that all the stupid things they fight over are really quiet trivial in the end. And despite our egocentric views we aren't really that important.

While similar in some respects to his Manifold Origin book, it really stands on its own and is great food for thought.

Anathem

Saturday Dec 18, 2010

All Neal Stephenson Books

978-0061694943

Dune meets Asmov's Foundation Trilogy. This sweeping book stands alone in how the scientific world could have been reshaped in the dogma of religion. Of course there's the whole world saving drama but it is wrapped in a high minded esoteric logic that is fascinating to explore. This is probably one of the best books we've read all year.

Queen of the South

Monday Jul 19, 2010

All Arturo Perez-Reverte Books

ISBN-13: 978-0452286542

This is a vivid detailed story of betrayal and un-ending revenge in a classic Mexican-style confrontation. Rich with character and passion this well written book will take you on a journey you hope you'll never take as the heroin struggles to survive on her own two feet.

A People's History of the United States

Monday Jul 19, 2010

All Howard Zinn Books

ISBN 0-06-052837-0

We haven't added any books to our list because the quality of most of what we find in the "book exchange" shelves has been so poor. However this gem of a book was a fascinating story about the US Government and all the bits often skipped over or "cleaned up" by traditional history books. It has it's own slant as the author openly discusses but the material is all well documented. For me it helped explain the mania of pure capitalism and gave me a deeper insight into the workings of the United States.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time

Monday Jul 19, 2010

All Greg Mortenson Books

ISBN-13: 978-0143038252

I couldn't believe this story when I first read it. A guy descending K2, near death is nursed back to health by villagers. He promises to build a school in this very remote part of Pakistan. His naive first attempt made me laugh and cringe. But Greg found a new K2 and climbed it. Despite the long title the editors insisted on, Three Cups of Tea is an story that is unbelievable. "Dr. Greg" earned the respect of thousands of Afghans as well as ours. I read a study that for every $1 invested in a 3rd world country's education returns $18 within one generation. Greg invested his heart and soul and his reward was priceless.

The Da Vinci Code

Thursday Feb 19, 2009

All Dan Brown Books

ISBN-13: 978-0307474278

UPDATE: At the time we read this no one had heard of it, now that it is a mediocre movie, I almost want to remove it, but it is still a good book. And I love quasi-religious art/conspiracy stories. This book was recommended by a friend of ours and while we rarely read fiction anymore, this one was a nice blend of real Christian and Mason (called "Pagan" by Christians) symbolism and how they have intertwined throughout our history and culture. This is the backdrop of the story as the plot takes us on a modern chase for the holy grail (yes, it sounds cheesy, but it isn't Monty Python) and the author really makes the story work even if the writing is a bit choppy at times.

Manifold Trilogy

Thursday Jul 31, 2008

All Steven Baxter Books

ISBN-13: 978-0345430762,ISBN-13: 978-0345430786,ISBN-13: 978-0345430809

I liked Manifold Time the best and Manifold Origin the least, but all three books were scientifically thought provoking. Each one focused on different aspects of the same philosophic question: "Who am I and why am I here?" While I doubt I'll be remaking the universe anytime soon, I had fun reading these books because the quality of the science was good and the story tackled some big difficult issues.

Revelation Space

Wednesday Jul 23, 2008

All Alastair Reynolds Books

ISBN-13: 978-0441009428

The first book in this series jumps right into a complex timeline of a genetically splintered human race (and some non-humans). While it was a bit tough to dive into such a complex story, the characters and ideas soon build into an amazingly detailed universe. The science behind the story and concepts really made the story seem plausible. One of the coolest parts of the storyline is the search for purpose: where are all the other life forms? Amid ruins of failed civilizations a strange and shocking prophecy for intelligent life is discovered. But can anything be done to avoid doom? Split into 3 books, this Trilogy is long but you'll feel like you've traveled a 1,000 light years and soared through a spectacularly complex Universe.

The Beak of the Finch

Wednesday Jul 16, 2008

All Jonathan Weiner, Books

ISBN 0-679-40003-6

This is a great book that chronicles the first serious scientific study done in the Galapagos Islands that lasted 20+ years. This book is mind-blowing story that stunned evolutionary biologists and lets Darwin RIP. They document the change in DNA combinations, hybridization and even discuss the documented rare event of a new species evolving from a known species. The popularization of this subject was treated well, but the intentional dumbing down of the subject left some holes. All in all, though, it's an excellent book!

Snow Crash

Wednesday Jul 2, 2008

All Neil Stephenson Books

ISBN 978-0553380958

This book was really well written and took an interesting turn into the human mind and ancient languages. While I found the "cyberspace" of 1992 a bit comical, the story was vividly written and full of good characters. Billed as a "cyberpunk" book might have worked in '92, but in '08 it was more fantasy than cyber. I liked the author's dive into ancient languages and their possible impact on human minds which made the story really work even 15 years after begin written.

Light of Other Days

Saturday Apr 12, 2008

All Arthur C. Clarke and Steven Baxter Books

ISBN-13: 978-0765322876

Ok, another fiction book. They're about all we can manage to trade down here. Sherrell and I both liked this book and Sherrell never reads Sci-Fi. I thought this book was a modern version of Brave New World (remember that one?). It's a well researched and thought out transformation of humanity via quantum technology.

American Gods

Friday Jul 27, 2007

All Niel Gaiman Books

ISBN-13: 978-0060558123

Only the second fiction book to make our list! I should mention that Sherrell couldn't get half way through it, but I loved it. American Gods is a very creative look at our world behind the scenes as the powers greater than us battle in the background. Niel mixes contemporary writing with old Myths from all over the world in a macabre and dark tale that was so vivid I found myself thinking about scenes from the book for days.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary

Wednesday Jul 12, 2006

All Simon Winchester Books

ISBN-13: 978-0060839789

This is Simon Winchester's best work in my opinion. We both found it a fantastic book and Amazon.com's summary offers the best overview. From Amazon.com: The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary--and literary history. The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Lord of the Rings

Wednesday Jul 5, 2006

All J.R.R. Tolkien. Books

ISBN-13: 978-0618640157

A classic trilogy and it's back in vogue. It's amazing to realize the influence this book has had on society and our culture. His message about the industrial revolution coupled with his intensely detailed imagination is an unstoppable force.

Pass the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered

Wednesday Jul 5, 2006

All Tim Cahill Books

ISBN-13: 978-0375701115

This book contains on of the most beautiful passages about dealing with foreign cultures I have ever read. It involves Donald Duck, but it is really better if you just read the book for yourself. A travel book of short stories and wild places full of funny adventures.

One for the Road: An Outback Adventure (Revised Ed.)

Tuesday Nov 1, 2005

All Tony Horwitz Books

ISBN-13: 978-0375706134

This guy has quite the job. He decides to go hitchhiking into the Australian Outback and write a book about it. Fortunately for him, he's good at finding the most bizarre and unusual things to write about, but maybe that's not a big challenge in the Outback. His insight and wit makes the book memorable. I laughed out loud reading this one, and I recommend it highly.

Sliced Iguana

Thursday Jul 28, 2005

All Isabella Tree Books

ISBN 0140281142

A search for "Old Mexico" in the nooks and crannies of the small pueblos reveals the deep and diverse culture of indigenous Mexicans. It's a well written travelogue with historical and cultural depth that most travelers in Mexico never discover. Definitely one of our favorite books about Mexico and a great travelogue as well!

Life and Death in Shanghai

Wednesday Jul 20, 2005

All Nien Cheng Books

ISBN-13: 978-0140108705

A fascinating look at life inside Mao's China during his fanatical pursuit of his idea of Marxist Perfection. An incredible and rare look inside the lives of the citizens as told from someone who survived several years as a political prisoner.

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet

Tuesday Jul 19, 2005

All Elliot Hester Books

ISBN-13: 978-0312269586

For those who have done any extensive flying on the commercial cattle cars in the sky, you'll laugh so hard you'll grab for the air-sickness baggie while reading this book about the insiders view of air travel.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

Saturday Jul 17, 2004

All Erik Larson Books

ISBN-13: 978-0375725609

Hundreds of things that we take for granted today as a modern convince were first showcased to the world in the 1893 Chicago's world fair. They also built things on a monumental scale that is incomprehensible for 1893, much less for 2004. For a slice of fascinating slice of popular history mixed with drama, mystery and madness, this book fits the bill. Much the history you don't know about Americana, then suddenly realize you should, unfolds in this tale about a most unusual fair.

Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey

Wednesday Jul 7, 2004

All Jane Goodall Books

ISBN 0-446-52225-2

An interesting book that explores both science and the soul from an incredible woman who altered the course and methods of natural science.

Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Thursday Feb 5, 2004

All Matthew Scully Books

ISBN-13: 978-0312319731

The long and overly complex title sums up the idea. This is not a weakly written fluff story, but a book which examines our food industry in detail. The behind-the-scenes process of food production and the ethics driving them are something everyone should think about and decide if they really support it. He also makes a case about why we should care and why we should take responsibility for our choices. Recommended reading for right-wing religious types who don't get vegetarians. Warning: non-religious types might not accept many of his religious premises from this speech writer for G.W. Bush and Sarah Palin. And in a similar fashion this author in no way practices what he preaches, but the message is still quite interesting.

Blue Latitudes : Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before

Wednesday Oct 22, 2003

All Tony Horwitz Books

ISBN-13: 978-0312422608

Now this is my idea of a book. Travel the South Seas going to all the nicer places that Captain Cook went to "researching" Cook's tales and local impressions of his three massive voyages. Cook himself probably doesn't need much introduction to most people, but besides his achievements for England, this book explores the deeper side of Cook. How did the natives really view him and how accurate was the retelling of Cook's voyages. Absolutely an amazing book from an author I hope to share a beer with one day. (See "One for the Road" too).

Diet for a New America

Thursday Jul 31, 2003

All John Robbins Books

ISBN-13: 978-0915811816

John turned away the Baskin and Robbins fortune in pursuit of a better lifestyle. Full of world wide statistics of diets and associated health and environmental problems, Tim makes a compelling case with his exhaustive research for the causes of many cancers, cardiovascular diseases and the dangers of factory farms. He has a newer book like the "food revolution" but we haven't come across a copy yet. I hear it is a updated version of this book.

The Venturesome Voyages of Captain Voss

Wednesday Jul 23, 2003

All J.C. Voss Books

ISBN 0-88826-066-0

In 1901, Voss set out for some amazing around the world adventures in a modified dugout canoe. His story is of local interest as he departed from Victoria and provides vivid descriptions of how he and his tiny craft happily weathered brutal storms.

A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East

Wednesday Jul 9, 2003

All Tiziano Terzani Books

ISBN 0-00-655071-1

A well written story about travel in S.E. Asia with a great historical perspective. If you've been to Asia or are just curious, you'll love this book.

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

Thursday Jul 25, 2002

All Simon Winchester Books

ISBN-13: 978-0060838591

I thought this book was an interesting history lesson about S.E. Asia's early colonies and how the area has changed over the years. Interleaved into the history is an amazing story of a massive volcanic eruption. While the story weaved in and out of its main point, perhaps in an attempt to fill the book, I still found the story interesting and look forward to seeing some of these places. This is the same author who wrote the fascinating book about the origin of the Oxford English Dictionary -- see other books by him.

Pale Blue Dot - A vision of the human future in space

Wednesday Jul 17, 2002

All Carl Sagan Books

ISBN-13: 978-0345376596

Anything by Sagan forces you to think of the possibilities, but Pale Blue Dot is one of my favorites. An introspective look at our life on earth. The Viking imaging system captured the Earth from space as a tiny pale blue dot which was Sagan's inspiration for how fragile we are.

Annapurna: A Woman's Place

Friday Jul 13, 2001

All Arlene Blum Books

ISBN-13: 978-1578050222

We stumbled across this book in a tiny used book store. We only found the tattered original 1978 copy, but what we found inside was a shocking thriller. The author created a scene so real you found yourself fighting with the characters and sharing their struggles up one of the tallest mountains in the world, at a time when everyone told them women aren't capable of climbing big mountains and they couldn't even get a single sponsor. Like most mountaineering books there's tragedy, but it comes as a total surprise to the reader. This was a book we couldn't put down.

Man's Search for Meaning

Friday Jul 18, 1997

All Viktor E. Frankl. Books

ISBN-13: 978-0807014271

This is probably the best book you'll ever read or re-read. Period.