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Non-Fiction Book Suggestions Wanted: June & July 2009 
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Post Is this where we vote for a book? Uh, do I get a vote?
Since I'm new here, is there a time period during which everyone votes for a book? Will there be a separate thread?

Thanks to those who reply!



Sat Apr 04, 2009 6:49 pm
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NOTE:

We've not had enough feedback on the suggestions in this thread to run the next poll as of 4/6/2009. So the discussion for "God is Not Great" will be extended to include May. (March, April & May 2009)

Please understand that feedback on the suggestions in this thread is just as important as actual suggestions. If you're the only one indicating an interest in reading a particular book we aren't going to have much of an actual discussion. We need a large group of people reading and discussing each book.



Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:06 pm
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Hi Boheme,

Yes, a new poll thread will be created where we all cast our votes. Right now we're seeking quality suggestions and feedback on suggestions.



Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:08 pm
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Yeah where are all the people who voted for Dreams From My Father and The Name of the Rose anyway?

:book:



Tue Apr 07, 2009 9:31 pm
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Good question.



Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:51 pm
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[url=http://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Make-Mistakes-Without/dp/0767928059/ref=pd_nr_b_28?ie=UTF8&s=books]Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average
by Joseph T. Hallinan[/url]

Book Description
We forget our passwords. We pay too much to go to the gym. We think we’d be happier if we lived in California (we wouldn’t), and we think we should stick with our first answer on tests (we shouldn’t). Why do we make mistakes? And could we do a little better?

We human beings have design flaws. Our eyes play tricks on us, our stories change in the retelling, and most of us are fairly sure we’re way above average. In Why We Make Mistakes, journalist Joseph T. Hallinan sets out to explore the captivating science of human error--how we think, see, remember, and forget, and how this sets us up for wholly irresistible mistakes.

In his quest to understand our imperfections, Hallinan delves into psychology, neuroscience, and economics, with forays into aviation, consumer behavior, geography, football, stock picking, and more. He discovers that some of the same qualities that make us efficient also make us error prone. We learn to move rapidly through the world, quickly recognizing patterns--but overlooking details. Which is why thirteen-year-old boys discover errors that NASA scientists miss—and why you can’t find the beer in your refrigerator.

Why We Make Mistakes is enlivened by real-life stories--of weathermen whose predictions are uncannily accurate and a witness who sent an innocent man to jail--and offers valuable advice, such as how to remember where you’ve hidden something important. You’ll learn why multitasking is a bad idea, why men make errors women don’t, and why most people think San Diego is west of Reno (it’s not).

Why We Make Mistakes will open your eyes to the reasons behind your mistakes--and have you vowing to do better the next time.

[hr]

From Publishers Weekly
A Pulitzer winner for his stories on Indiana's medical malpractice system, Hallinan has made himself an expert on the snafus of human psychology and perception used regularly (by politicians, marketers, and our own subconscious) to confuse, misinform, manipulate and equivocate. In breezy chapters, Hallinan examines 13 pitfalls that make us vulnerable to mistakes: "we look but don't always see," "we like things tidy" and "we don't constrain ourselves" among them. Each chapter takes on a different drawback, packing in an impressive range of intriguing and practical real-world examples; the chapter on overconfidence looks at horse-racing handicappers, Warren Buffet's worst deal and the secret weapon of credit card companies. He also looks at the serious consequences of multitasking and data overload on what is at best a two- or three-track mind, from deciding the best course of cancer treatment to ignoring the real factors of our unhappiness (often by focusing on minor but more easily understood details). Quizzes and puzzles give readers a sense of their own capacity for self-deception and/or delusion. A lesson in humility as much as human behavior, Hallinan's study should help readers understand their limitations and how to work with them.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:32 am
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The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller

From Booklist
Because she couldn’t find a book that showed her how to use her own love of books to imbue her elementary students with the same love, Miller, Teacher Magazine blogger, decided to write her own. She recalls her personal journey as a teacher and the surprise and disappointment of learning that book loving cannot be automatically passed on to students. No more having the whole class read the same novel. She gave her students questionnaires to determine their interests and personally selected stacks of books of possible interest to them, then allowed them to read independently—at least 40 books a school year. She recounts the experience of some students struggling and others exhilarated by the freedom to read. Miller’s tactics resulted in improvement in her students’ vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. She also saw students respect book suggestions that came from a reader’s passion rather than a teacher’s agenda. Miller includes reading lists, activities, questionnaires, and other resources. Although aimed at teachers, this book will also definitely appeal to parents interested in encouraging their children to read.

Product Description
Donalyn Miller says she has yet to meet a child she couldn't turn into a reader. No matter how far behind Miller's students might be when they reach her 6th grade classroom, they end up reading an average of 40 to 50 books a year. Miller's unconventional approach dispenses with drills and worksheets that make reading a chore. Instead, she helps students navigate the world of literature and gives them time to read books they pick out themselves. Her love of books and teaching is both infectious and inspiring. The book includes a dynamite list of recommended "kid lit" that helps parents and teachers find the books that students really like to read.

[hr]

We're all obviously fans of reading around here, but this book might be a way for us to learn techniques to teach younger people to give reading a chance.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:40 am
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Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne

From Publishers Weekly
With great care, attention to the scientific evidence and a wonderfully accessible style, Coyne, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago, presents an overwhelming case for evolution. Ranging from biogeography to geology, from anatomy to genetics, and from molecular biology to physiology, he demonstrates that evolutionary theory makes predictions that are consistently borne out by the data—basic requirements for a scientific theory to be valid. Additionally, although fully respectful of those who promote intelligent design and creationism, he uses the data at his disposal to demolish any thought that creationism is supported by the evidence while also explaining why those ideas fall outside the bounds of science. Coyne directly addresses the concept often advanced by religious fundamentalists that an acceptance of evolution must lead to immorality, concluding that evolution tells us where we came from, not where we can go. Readers looking to understand the case for evolution and searching for a response to many of the most common creationist claims should find everything they need in this powerful book, which is clearer and more comprehensive than the many others on the subject.


From Booklist
Far more presentational than disputatious, Coyne’s demonstration that evolution has proven itself in lab and field is still a deliberate answer to anti-evolutionism, especially creationism or intelligent design (ID). At its most comprehensive, creationism/ID claims that each species is the product of a separate creative act; less universally, that at least humans were so created. Frequently throughout lucid, accessible chapters on the fossil record, vestigial features of modern bodies (e.g., the tail rarely seen but documented in newborns), biogeography, natural selection, sexual selection, speciation, and human evolution—the basic areas of evolutionary investigation—Coyne remarks that the material evidence confirms evolution, not creationism/ID. For the evidence shows complexities and imperfections that creationism/ID can’t explain or even allow, for that would necessitate positing a sloppy, imperfect creator or intelligence that couldn’t fashion creatures to ideally fit either their habitats or their bodies. Evolution, on the other hand, expects imperfection and jerry-rigging, and the physical findings, lately made much more precise by genetic analysis, just bolster confidence in it. In conclusion, Coyne wonders what it would take to convince the apparently reasonable people who still deny evolution. A new Milton, perhaps, to justify evolution’s ways in great poetry? Meanwhile, at a time—the Darwin bicentennial and Origin of Species sesquicentennial—when good evolution books are rife, Coyne has given general readers one of the best. --Ray Olson



Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:56 am
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

From Publishers Weekly
Roach is not like other science writers. She doesn't write about genes or black holes or Schrödinger's cat. Instead, she ventures out to the fringes of science, where the oddballs ponder how cadavers decay (in her debut, Stiff) and whether you can weigh a person's soul (in Spook). Now she explores the sexiest subject of all: sex, and such questions as, what is an orgasm? How is it possible for paraplegics to have them? What does woman want, and can a man give it to her if her clitoris is too far from her vagina? At times the narrative feels insubstantial and digressive (how much do you need to know about inseminating sows?), but Roach's ever-present eye and ear for the absurd and her loopy sense of humor make her a delectable guide through this unesteemed scientific outback. The payoff comes with subjects like female orgasm (yes, it's complicated), and characters like Ahmed Shafik, who defies Cairo's religious repressiveness to conduct his sex research. Roach's forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction.

From Booklist
The New Yorker dubbed Roach “the funniest science writer in the country.” OK, maybe there’s not a lot of competition. But even if there were thousands of science-humor writers, she would be the sidesplitting favorite. Of course, she chooses good subjects: cadavers in Stiff (2003), ghosts in Spook (2005), and now a genuinely fertile topic in Bonk. As Roach points out, scientists studying sex are often treated with disdain, as though there is something inherently suspicious about the enterprise. Yet through understanding the anatomy, physiology, and psychology of sexual response, scientists can help us toward greater marital and nonmarital happiness. Such altruistic intentions, which the book shares, aren’t the wellspring of its appeal, however. That lies in the breezy tone in which Roach describes erectile dysfunction among polygamists, penis cameras, relative organ sizes and enhancement devices, and dozens of other titillating subjects. Not to be missed: the martial art of yin diao gung (“genitals hanging kung fu”), monkey sex athletes, and the licensing of porn stars’ genitals for blow-up reproductions. To stay on the ethical side of human-subjects experimentation, Roach offers herself as research subject several times, resulting in some of her best writing.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 2:58 am
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Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Nash

http://www.amazon.ca/Wilderness-American-Mind-Roderick-Nash/dp/0300091222/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239196258&sr=8-1

“In this important and influential work, Roderick Nash explains the origin of the wilderness concept and the role it plays in the evolution of environmentalism. Americans in particular need this historical perspective to come to grips with their relation to nature and hence to the whole, real world.”—Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

(from: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300091229)


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Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:20 am
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Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution by Alan Heimert

Here's a related article that mentions the text: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/eighteen/ekeyinfo/erelrev.htm


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Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:29 am
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A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion by Catherine Albanese

http://www.amazon.ca/Republic-Mind-Spirit-Cultural-Metaphysical/dp/0300136153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239197291&sr=8-1

"American religious history has tended to emphasize either evangelical or revivalist movements (William McLoughlin's Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform) or mainstream denominations (Sydney Ahlstrom's A Religious History of the American People). In this groundbreaking book, Albanese, the religion department chair at UC–Santa Barbara, focuses instead on metaphysical religions, from Transcendentalism and New Thought to Theosophy, Christian Science and the New Age movement. She traces the advent of these religions from their European heritage (the Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Pietism and mysticism) and Native American legacies (shamanism, dream interpretation) to 19th-century forms such as Universalism, Mormonism and Freemasonry. In later chapters, she demonstrates that American metaphysical religions often incorporated Asian traditions, such as various forms of Buddhism, into their own practices. Albanese contends that the ability to combine the traits of several religions into a new tradition—what she calls a "combinative nature"—is the singular feature of American metaphysical religions, which share four themes: they are preoccupied with mind and powers; reflect a propensity for ancient cosmology; think in terms of movement and energy; and emerge amid a yearning for salvation understood as solace, comfort, therapy and healing. Although Albanese's tone can sometimes turn dry and pedantic, she delivers a first-rate and much-needed religious history of American metaphysical tradition. (Jan.) "


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Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:33 am
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Prehistory of the Mind by Steven Mithen

http://www.amazon.ca/Prehistory-Mind-Steven-Mithen/dp/0500050813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1239198021&sr=1-1

From Amazon.com
Try an experiment: take a passenger along on a brief car trip--a jaunt to the supermarket, say. Have a nice conversation while you're driving, and take a scenic route. Now, the next day, try to reconstruct the details of both the conversation and the trip. Chances are, unless something unusual happened along the way, that your memory of both will be indistinct, for we tend to forget the mundane--an example of what the cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett calls "rolling consciousness with swift memory loss."

Steven Mithen, an archaeologist with an interest in psychology, believes that just such a consciousness obtained among early humans when they went foraging for food or made tools. The evolution of higher, more memory-laden consciousness, he continues, occurred only as a result of a cognitive trick that doubtless involved some trial and error. The trick, simply put, was to guess what the social behavior of some member of one's social group might be in a given circumstance--to step outside one's own mind, in other words, and enter another's. This guesswork underlies the famed cave paintings of Altamira, an attempt to predict the behavior of migratory animals. It underlies as well another experiment: the development of agriculture, with the requisite predicting of how plants and animals might behave under a wide range of conditions.

Mithen's reconstruction of the ancestral human mind, laid out in a clear and accessible narrative, is a fine intellectual adventure.

From Library Journal
Mithen (archaeology, Univ. of Reading) here speculates on the origin of the human mind. Viewing the past six million years as a four-act drama performed with shadowy lighting and insufficient props, Mithen suggests that the precursor of our modern mind was characterized by a general intelligence supplemented by specialized modules for social intelligence, natural history, and technology. Once these formerly independent modules began to communicate with one another, art, religion, and agriculture became possible. Mithen skillfully integrates the ideas of evolutionary psychologists with archaeological evidence and studies on primate behavior to create a plausible, albeit speculative, theory of mental evolution.

Here's an interview with the author: http://www.science-spirit.org/article_detail.php?article_id=204


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Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:44 am
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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen

http://www.amazon.ca/Lies-My-Teacher-Told-Everything/dp/0743296281/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239198486&sr=1-1

From Publishers Weekly
Loewen's politically correct critique of 12 American history textbooks—including The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy; and Triumph of the American Nation by Paul Lewis Todd and Merle Curti—is sure to please liberals and infuriate conservatives. In condemning the way history is taught, he indicts everyone involved in the enterprise: authors, publishers, adoption committees, parents and teachers. Loewen (Mississippi: Conflict and Change) argues that the bland, Eurocentric treatment of history bores most elementary and high school students, who also find it irrelevant to their lives. To make learning more compelling, Loewen urges authors, publishers and teachers to highlight the drama inherent in history by presenting students with different viewpoints and stressing that history is an ongoing process, not merely a collection of—often misleading—factoids. Readers interested in history, whether liberal or conservative, professional or layperson, will find food for thought here.

From Booklist
When textbook gaffes make news, as with the tome that explained that the Korean War ended when Truman dropped the atom bomb, the expeditious remedy would be to fire the editor. Loewen would rather hire a new team of authors bent on the pursuit of context instead of factoids. In Loewen's ideal text, events and people illuminating the multicultural holy trinity of race, gender, and social class would predominate over the fixation on heroes and acts of government. Such is the mood adopted throughout this critique of 12 American history texts in current use. Vetting 10 topics they commonly address--from the Pilgrims to the Vietnam War--Loewen bewails a long train of alleged omissions and distortions. To account for the deplorable situation, he offers this quasi-Marxist explanation: "Perhaps we are all dupes, manipulated by elite white male capitalists who orchestrate how history is written as part of their scheme to perpetuate their own power and privilege at the expense of the rest of us." Certainly students' appalling ignorance of history is troublesome, and broken families and excessive TV viewing are at least the equals of white male conspirators as the cause. However, libraries located where dissatisfaction with textbooks exists should be interested in Loewen's critique.


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Descarte's Error by Antonio Damasio

http://www.amazon.ca/Descartes-Error-Antonio-Damasio/dp/014303622X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1239205148&sr=8-1
From Publishers Weekly
Neurologist Damasio's refutation of the Cartesian idea of the human mind as separate from bodily processes draws on neurochemistry to support his claim that emotions play a central role in human decision making.

From Library Journal
The idea that the mind exists as a distinct entity from the body has profoundly influenced Western culture since Descartes proclaimed, "I think, therefore I am." Damasio, head of neurology at the University of Iowa and a prominent researcher on human brain function, challenges this premise in a fascinating and well-reasoned argument on the central role that emotion and feelings play in human rationality. According to Damasio, the same brain structures regulate both human biology and behavior and are indispensable to normal cognitive processes. Damasio demonstrates how patients (his own as well as the 19th-century railroad worker Nicholas Gage) with prefrontal cortical damage can no longer generate the emotions necessary for effective decision-making. A gifted scientist and writer, Damasio combines an Oliver Sack-like reportage with the presentation of complex, theoretical issues in neurobiology.


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