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These are all incredible books that continue to renew my sense of wonder and hope for the world. I've read most of these just since 2007. The amazon.com URL is for the Kindle version where available, since that's how I do most of my reading now, on my phone.


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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor Seeing God in the everyday world. Sequel to Leaving Church. listing on Amazon.com 
An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politics, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas Diane Wilson Environmental action in Texas. It's still the wild west. listing on Amazon.com 
Bailout: How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street Neil Barofsky Tells what went wrong in followup to 2008 crash, from perspective of government mismanagement. See also The Big Short by Lewis, and Currency Wars by Rickards. listing on Amazon.com 
Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors Nicholas Wade Remarkable detective work on human history from DNA/genome analysis; good presentation of "out of Africa" theory.  listing on Amazon.com 
Change or Die Alan Deutschman He doesn't mean it (the title). This is really about the failure of using fear, danger & alarm as a motivation for change. But he does show what works; consistent & complementary to Heath's "Switch". listing on Amazon.com 
Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist Christof Koch A neuroscientist reviews current understanding of the basis for consciousness in humans and other life forms. This is still a fuzzy area but it appears to be a fundamental property of all complex systems, not just life forms.  listing on Amazon.com 
Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis James Rickards Provides historical context to the 2008 crash, describing evolution of national & global monetary policy since 1900; describes how US Fed efforts to manage inflation provide only superficial help to US trade, while undermining our interests in driving the global economy. See also The Big Short by Lewis, and Bailout by Barofsky. listing on Amazon.com 
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution Rebecca Stott Jargon-free description of breakthroughs in science dating back to Aristotle, that led to Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species, published in 1859. Outstanding history of civilization, modern natural history, and the struggle between church and science.  listing on Amazon.com 
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Daniel Pink we're motivated more by challenges than by salary level listing on Amazon.com 
Emergence: The connected lives of ants, brains, cities, and software Steven Johnson Patterns of complexity; what a forest slime mold has in common with the Internet. Excellent treatment of a difficult subject; essential for understanding our culture. listing on Amazon.com 
Environment, Power and Society for the Twenty-First Century: The Hierarchy of Energy Howard T. Odum I studied environmental and energy system dynamics from H.T. Odum at the Univ of Florida in mid-1990s. His approach enables description of multi-scale environmental and social/economic systems in terms of their embedded energy (emergy) expressed in units of solar photosynthesis. A much-needed accounting system, if we are to understand the effects of society on nature.. listing on Amazon.com 
Invisible Cities Italo Calvino Imaginary conversations between Marco Polo and his host, the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan, conjure up cities of magical times. “Of all tasks, describing the contents of a book is the most difficult and in the case of a marvelous invention like Invisible Cities, perfectly irrelevant” (Gore Vidal) listing on Amazon.com 
Junana Bruce Caron Excellent; the most positive possible future i've seen so far. Gaming over the web becomes a tool to accelerate learning. This could happen. listing on Amazon.com 
Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith Barbara Brown Taylor Inspiring autobiography of an Episcopalian pastor's burnout and transition to mystic philosopher in American deep south listing on Amazon.com 
Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them Al Franken how do they keep getting away with it?? listing on Amazon.com 
Measuring America: How the United States Was Shaped By the Greatest Land Sale in History Andro Linklater A history of the early United States told from the perspective of surveying it. Also about the 18th century struggle & lost opportunity for an international metric system. listing on Amazon.com 
Mountains Beyond Mountains Tracy Kidder Inspiring story of Dr. Paul Farmer, tenacious genius who brought public health to Haiti while in Boston med school, and first to understand how to treat multi-resistant bacterial infections listing on Amazon.com 
Outliers: The Story of Success  Malcolm Gladwell What do Bill Gates & Steve Jobs have in common, that led to their success? Why are most Canadian hockey stars born in Jan-Feb-March? Numerous stories of social context that helped lift gifted people to become superstars. Listing on Amazon.com 
Overconnected: The Promise and Threat of the Internet William H. Davidow title says it all? listing on Amazon.com 
Rise and Shine: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Journey from Near Death to Full Recovery Simon Lewis Inspiring autobiography of 15 yr recovery from coma to TED talk, and how he was helped and hindered by the medical profession & technology listing on Amazon.com 
Strength in What Remains Tracy Kidder Incredible, inspiring story of a Burundi native & doctor who escaped genocide and came to NY, then with help of kind strangers worked through Columbia Univ and Boston med school (with Paul Farmer) listing on Amazon.com 
Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Chip Heath, Dan Heath Builds on Jon Haidt's "elephant/rider" metaphor; excellent study and examples for how to be effective in making significant changes in individuals or institutions. listing on Amazon.com 
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Michael Lewis Tells how the 2008 crash came to happen, from perspective of Wall Street investors. See also Bailout by Barofsky, and Currency Wars by Rickards. listing on Amazon.com 
The Consolations of Philosophy Alain de Botton Most insightful & readable applications of philosophy to everyday issues: unpopularity (Socrates), not enough money (Epicurus), frustration (Seneca), inadequacy (Montaigne), a broken heart (Schopenhauer), difficulties (Nietzsche)  listing on Amazon.com 
The Film Club: A Memoir David Gilmour Amazing memoir of one father's answer to his son's learning difficulties in school. The selection of movies itself is worth the read.  listing on Amazon.com 
The Good Book: A Humanist Bible A. C. Grayling A secular bible that draws on "the wisdom of 2,500 years of contemplative non-religious writing on all that it means to be human - from the origins of the universe to small matters of courtesy and kindness in everyday life." (from Amazon.com review) listing on Amazon.com 
The Help Kathryn Stockett Even better than the movie: "historical fiction" account of life & culture of American deep south during 1960s. listing on Amazon.com 
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot Case study about culturing the most virulent cancer strain ever, for medical research listing on Amazon.com 
The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America Steven Johnson Story of Joseph Priestley, 18th century scientist & theologian whose research led to discovery of oxygen, and whose writing made science more accessible and inviting. listing on Amazon.com 
The Logic of Life: The Rational Economics of an Irrational World Tim Harford The author looks for the rational basis in such behavior as drug addiction, unprotected sex and prostitution, society's high divorce rate, overpaid CEOs, bad government programs and the likely causes of the persistent instability in the majority of African & South/Central American political systems. I couldn't put the book down, it's so well written for non-economist readers. listing on Amazon.com 
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright Epic compilation of the lives and stories since World War 2, that led to Osama bin Laden's war with the West. Could be the sequel to T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. listing on Amazon.com 
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Jonathan Haidt Best explanations I've seen for the psychology behind the tension between our rational and emotional selves, and how the American Left and Right can come to understand each other. Seriously, it could work.. listing on Amazon.com 
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom T. E. Lawrence Autobiography of British officer who became known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, about his experiences in the Middle East during World War I while serving as a liaison officer with Arab forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks. His insightful account reveals much about the cultural differences between the West and Middle East.  listing on Amazon.com 
Showing 33 items
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