Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mid Year Report on Best Books so far

I've decided to give you the top three books I've read this year to hopefully convince you to read them. Two of them were published in March of this year, and one was published in 1975.

These three books have strongly impacted me by shaping my view of myself and the world around me and I hope you will read them and let me know if you have a similar reaction. All three are works of profound minds at the height of their talent. They are all non-fiction, but build narratives which are as gripping as War and Peace (which I read last year).

First Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Anne Dillard, published in 1975, shaped my view of the natural world. Anne delves into details of the creek near her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. She slows down to study the animals and insects living, mating, eating, and dieting all around her. She pulls in philosophy and religion to weave a full picture of human knowledge on the interaction she witnesses during spring, summer, fall and winter. She doesn't shy from the raw descriptions of nature's violence. I've never been much of a studier of nature, but the wonder and awe she feels as she seeks the answers to life's meaning in the moment of fish and praying mantis's is contagious.

Second book to completely blow me away was The Information by James Gleick. Gleick's book paints the picture of the scientific world from early man to modern and into the future. His awe and wonder come thru every page and change the way you view Information Technology. Its how we understand the world. Communication shapes our society in a way we can't segregate into "geekdom." Its shaping the way we see ourselves as DNA replicators. We live so that genes can propagate. His argument needs to be absorbed and then discussed at every level.

Third book which I am almost finished with but can't wait to post about is Social Animal by David Brooks. David covers an entire couples lives from before they were born onwards and their social interactions, professional careers, political careers almost as a novelist would with emotions and descriptions. Where this books differs from a novel is at each step in their development he includes a summary and examples of research on that aspect of life. He wraps us up in his characters, who are quite interesting and lead interesting lives, but he is also teaching us an enormous about of information and putting into context of how we live day to day.

So these three books give three scientific views of our world each focusing on a different aspect. Learn about nature thru Anne's narrative adventures, learn about how information is who we are, and learn about how social skills are more important to success than IQ and why.

Let me know if you get to read these three and what you thought about them!

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