Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only

Popular or even technical science books that you thought were really well done.

Note: Please keep it to actual science - no politics or nutrition, unless the focus is very definitely on science. No science fiction, politics, history, or self help. Any book that doesn't meet the criteria will be removed.
1

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4.19 avg rating — 198,053 ratings
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2

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4.11 avg rating — 170,047 ratings
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3

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4.35 avg rating — 75,978 ratings
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4

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4.11 avg rating — 98,152 ratings
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5

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3.99 avg rating — 178,402 ratings
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6

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4.27 avg rating — 41,877 ratings
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7

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3.89 avg rating — 169,411 ratings
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8

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4.29 avg rating — 91,322 ratings
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9

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3.96 avg rating — 70,601 ratings
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10

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3.93 avg rating — 537,176 ratings
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11

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4.06 avg rating — 66,727 ratings
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12

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4.29 avg rating — 32,363 ratings
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13

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4.03 avg rating — 376,636 ratings
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14

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4.16 avg rating — 35,352 ratings
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15

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4.09 avg rating — 74,007 ratings
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16

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4.04 avg rating — 104,364 ratings
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17

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4.13 avg rating — 24,364 ratings
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18

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4.08 avg rating — 22,360 ratings
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19

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4.58 avg rating — 5,702 ratings
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20

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3.97 avg rating — 22,334 ratings
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21

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4.12 avg rating — 17,072 ratings
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22

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4.32 avg rating — 19,613 ratings
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23

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3.92 avg rating — 46,000 ratings
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24

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3.89 avg rating — 28,298 ratings
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25

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4.10 avg rating — 355,064 ratings
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26

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4.02 avg rating — 18,116 ratings
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27

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4.07 avg rating — 135,572 ratings
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28

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3.99 avg rating — 523 ratings
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29

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4.11 avg rating — 24,965 ratings
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30

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3.94 avg rating — 40,788 ratings
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31

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4.22 avg rating — 17,900 ratings
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32

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4.05 avg rating — 122,145 ratings
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33

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3.97 avg rating — 15,477 ratings
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34

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4.19 avg rating — 12,564 ratings
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35

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3.88 avg rating — 343,055 ratings
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36

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4.32 avg rating — 14,633 ratings
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37

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4.16 avg rating — 13,780 ratings
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38

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4.28 avg rating — 50,396 ratings
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39

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3.79 avg rating — 29,553 ratings
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40

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4.31 avg rating — 12,838 ratings
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41

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3.98 avg rating — 16,834 ratings
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42

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4.27 avg rating — 14,612 ratings
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43

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4.11 avg rating — 7,663 ratings
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44

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3.94 avg rating — 24,230 ratings
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45

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4.04 avg rating — 13,850 ratings
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46

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3.97 avg rating — 13,826 ratings
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47

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4.16 avg rating — 8,032 ratings
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48

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4.11 avg rating — 17,623 ratings
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49

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4.11 avg rating — 14,264 ratings
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50

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 43,816 ratings
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51

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4.08 avg rating — 25,586 ratings
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52

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3.87 avg rating — 12,482 ratings
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53

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3.92 avg rating — 18,176 ratings
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54

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4.06 avg rating — 15,763 ratings
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55

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3.91 avg rating — 473,523 ratings
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56

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4.15 avg rating — 6,631 ratings
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57

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3.87 avg rating — 14,314 ratings
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58

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4.16 avg rating — 12,210 ratings
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59

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4.03 avg rating — 15,922 ratings
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60

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4.16 avg rating — 64,147 ratings
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61

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3.95 avg rating — 14,935 ratings
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62

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3.95 avg rating — 67,411 ratings
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63

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4.07 avg rating — 23,487 ratings
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64

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3.91 avg rating — 26,008 ratings
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65

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4.22 avg rating — 10,803 ratings
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66

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3.96 avg rating — 13,318 ratings
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66

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4.28 avg rating — 15,788 ratings
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68

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4.05 avg rating — 37,202 ratings
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69

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4.14 avg rating — 14,660 ratings
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70

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4.13 avg rating — 12,440 ratings
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71

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3.95 avg rating — 6,668 ratings
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72

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4.15 avg rating — 6,218 ratings
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73

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4.03 avg rating — 209,518 ratings
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74

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4.18 avg rating — 4,676 ratings
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75

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4.17 avg rating — 12,948 ratings
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76

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4.03 avg rating — 7,417 ratings
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77

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4.04 avg rating — 6,461 ratings
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78

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3.74 avg rating — 5,312 ratings
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79

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4.28 avg rating — 7,797 ratings
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80

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3.87 avg rating — 4,910 ratings
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81

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4.27 avg rating — 7,350 ratings
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81

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3.99 avg rating — 19,238 ratings
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83

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4.19 avg rating — 3,662 ratings
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84

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3.87 avg rating — 5,504 ratings
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85

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4.01 avg rating — 8,190 ratings
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86

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4.10 avg rating — 5,240 ratings
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87

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4.15 avg rating — 4,579 ratings
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88

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3.74 avg rating — 21,531 ratings
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89

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4.16 avg rating — 12,789 ratings
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90

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4.14 avg rating — 3,523 ratings
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91

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4.10 avg rating — 64,059 ratings
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92

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4.12 avg rating — 2,475 ratings
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93

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4.17 avg rating — 13,949 ratings
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93

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4.04 avg rating — 12,402 ratings
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95

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4.15 avg rating — 7,125 ratings
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96

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3.93 avg rating — 36,841 ratings
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97

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4.02 avg rating — 4,357 ratings
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98

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3.94 avg rating — 88,673 ratings
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99

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3.82 avg rating — 9,490 ratings
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100

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4.16 avg rating — 4,402 ratings
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1,114 books · 2,606 voters · list created August 22nd, 2008 by Cindy (votes) .
1661 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy 7652 books
144 friends
Eli 4 books
2 friends
Alleyprowler 43 books
6 friends
Matthew 69 books
12 friends
Tara 862 books
259 friends
Aaron 15 books
2 friends
Jill 1659 books
89 friends
Greg 365 books
8 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-50 of 54) (54 new)


message 1: by Keely (new)

Keely Hyslop I adore Sophie's World, but it's a philosophy book rather than a science book.


message 2: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Brave New Woprld is science fiction, not science.


message 3: by Phoenixfalls (new)

Phoenixfalls There are four Isaac Asimov novels on this list: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots and Dawn, and Robots and Empire; please, can they be removed?


message 4: by Xenophon (new)

Xenophon Hendrix Phoenixfalls wrote: "There are four Isaac Asimov novels on this list: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, Robots and Dawn, and Robots and Empire; please, can they be removed?"

Done.


message 5: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Feb 15, 2011 09:57AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) "Longitude"? "Sophie's World" (again)? "Galileo's Daughter"?


message 6: by Lesli (new)

Lesli Disappearing Spoon is in position 43 and 203.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Fixed -- there were several duplicates, in fact. I've combined them.


message 8: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Thanks!


message 9: by Dreeanna (new)

Dreeanna Cindy wrote: "Brave New Woprld is science fiction, not science."

Agreed. Although, soma is now an actual drug and we do embrace an American society based on alphas and betas so it may have crossed the line into reality.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) I assume someone already removed Brave New World? I just went through the list and I could no longer find it.


message 11: by Hayes (last edited Mar 16, 2012 04:13AM) (new)

Hayes What about Sophie's World (Re-again, or again again... or something.) It's philosophy really, which I suppose is a science, but...

and I voted for Levi's The Periodic Table, but that's not really science either (despite the title), although there are some scientific elements.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Well -- Sophie's World has a chapter about Aristotle, who wrote about (natural) science as well, and who believed that reality, or the natural world, is actually just a mirror of our conceptions of it (or something along those lines, I'm sure I'm badly misstating it). But that's really more a six degrees of separation thing for purposes of this list, as far as I'm concerned ...

Cindy?


message 13: by Cindy (new)

Cindy If the main concern is science, a biography of a scientist, or the history and development of a science, then it fits. If those are briefly mentioned, but the main thrust of the book is something else, then it doesn't fit. I haven't read Sophie's World or The Periodic Table, so I can't really decide on that.


message 14: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Aug 02, 2012 03:01AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Oh, there's no doubt that the main concern of Sophie's Choice is philosophy. Like I said: more of a six degrees of separation kind of thing as far as science is concerned, insofar as it deals with philosophers who also wrote about science (like Aristotle for example) and had a world view generated from both disciplines!

ETA: Removed.


message 15: by Grace (new)

Grace Did anyone else here notice that almost ALL of the authors here are men? This is an important trend to note. Males are much more likely to practice science and to publish popular books about science. So one may say science is a male-dominated field. This is a useful thing to notice, so that we can work to make the field of science less male-dominated and more equal for everyone :)


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Grace wrote: "Did anyone else here notice that almost ALL of the authors here are men? This is an important trend to note. Males are much more likely to practice science and to publish popular books about science..."

That was an issue when I went to school already (several decades ago) -- and even then people were saying it's not a new issue; in fact, anything but. Seems we're not making a lot of progress there, are we? (And no, I'm not a scientist, either, alas ...)


message 17: by Oni (new)

Oni This is the best list I have ever found on goodreads. The other list on goodreads are mostly just jumble of books who people like or dislike, and some are even misclassified.
Thank you for bringing up this list.


message 18: by Ravi (new)

Ravi Why Freakonomics? Is the Definition of Science broad to include applied economics.Same applies to the Sequel and Dan Ariely's works.


message 19: by Celeste (new)

Celeste This is a great list! Thanks for creating this :)


message 20: by Ankita (new)

Ankita every day on earth..................a fact of 24 hours


message 21: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (last edited Jan 14, 2013 10:41AM) (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Why is The Secret Magdalene on here? It appears to be historical fiction.

ETA: Or, for that matter, The Zombie Room, which would appear to be a thriller about zombies.

Or Squire, by Tamora Pierce, a YA fantasy novel?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho?

Mickey Mouses Picnic?!?!?!

Eternal Darkness, Blood King, a vampire novel?

Leaving Paradise, a YA romance?

Evil Star, a YA fantasy thriller?

Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves, which is a memoir, mostly about the First World War.

The Mists of Avalon, a King Arthur novel???


message 23: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Looks like we have a bunch of new voters who totally don't get it. I can remove the books, but can't remove the votes.

(naming names, there's Joyce, Denver, who else?)


message 24: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Huston Anne McCaffrey, JK Rowling, Ray Bradbury, Cassandra Clare, John Steinbeck.


message 25: by Cindy (new)

Cindy OK, I just spent over an hour getting all those fiction books off of the list. Also, no politics, no religion. The Constitution is a great document, but it is NOT science. There are other lists for things like that. No popular nutrition books.


message 26: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I'll be back tomorrow to clean up the rest.


message 27: by Cindy (new)

Cindy There, I think I got it all. I'm not 100% sure that architecture counts as a science, but I left those in for now. Also not sure about the mathematics books. Math is closely related to science, but not the same thing. Plus there are other lists for math books. Again, I left them in for now.


message 28: by Ali (new)

Ali Ismail what a great list!


message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill Is this list being maintained anymore? There are a good number of celebrity biographies and buddhist meditation guides on here; it seems that from entry #600 on, the list degenerates completely.


message 30: by Oni (new)

Oni ups, you are right, Bill. needs lots of cleaning from #600 on.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Cindy (who created this list) is usually pretty active about maintaining her own lists and removing what she doesn't want to see on them, so for the moment I'd defer to her.

That said, Cindy, if you want other librarians to lend a hand, do let us know!


message 32: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sure, I'd welcome the help. I haven't checked the list in a little while. I wish people would read the directions!


message 33: by Bill (new)

Bill Hi Cindy, Oni, and Themis-Athena,
Thanks for your replies and work on this list. I know a lot of effort goes into maintaining this, and I appreciate it.


message 34: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Aug 21, 2013 11:34AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Bill wrote: "Hi Cindy, Oni, and Themis-Athena,
Thanks for your replies and work on this list. I know a lot of effort goes into maintaining this, and I appreciate it."


No problem. :)

Deleted, as either manifestly not science-focused nonfiction, or even fiction (as in "novels," not "pseudo-science"):
The Art of Happiness
For Laci: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice
Sunflower Forest (fiction)
Murphy's Boy
In the Sanctuary of the Soul: A Guide to Effective Prayer
The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels
The Last Undercover: The True Story of an FBI Agent's Dangerous Dance with Evil
Talk, Trust, and Feel
True Compass: A Memoir
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam
Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations
Infidel
Forever Young: My Friendship with John F. Kennedy, Jr.
The Kennedys: Portrait of a Family
Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the O.J. Simpson Case
Killing Time: The First Full Investigation into the Unsolved Murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman
Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of Home
Not So Big House
A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America
Traveling Light: Releasing the Burdens You Were Never Intended to Bear
Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson
Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment
Noble Heart: A Self-Guided Retreat on Befriending Your Obstacles
Awakening Loving-Kindness
The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology
The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self
Faith, Hope and Healing: Inspiring Lessons Learned from People Living with Cancer
Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing
Under Fire: An American Story
Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation
Emotional Healing through Mindfulness Meditation: Stories and Meditations for Women Seeking Wholeness
Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, and Panic
At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace Within Everyday Chaos
The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul
No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva
Being Well (Even When You're Sick): Mindfulness Practices for People with Cancer and Other Serious Illnesses
Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery
Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
I'll Be Short: Essentials for a Decent Working Society
The Red Tent (fiction)
A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race (listopia spam, in case anybody is wondering)
Control Switch On: The Untold Story Of The Most Powerful Man In The World-Ryan Moran-Who Shaped The Planet For Peace (ditto)
Your Meaning
Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion
Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life
Meditation for Beginners
Life Code: The New Rules For Winning in the Real World
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More
Still Alice (fiction)


message 35: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Sounds much better. For clarification, books on forensic science where the emphasis is on SCIENCE are welcome. Books on true crime, where the story is about one particular case, are not.


message 36: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Also books on living with a disease where it's mostly about lifestyle, diet, personal experiences, don't belong on this list. Books about how the disease works, its history or epidemiology, its discovery or the science behind the treatment, those are welcome here. An example of a book that fits here is The Emperor of All Maladies about cancer.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Yes, those were the lines I tried to stick to when going through the list as well -- I also didn't delete psychology books other than forensics-related or dealing with life with an illness if and where there was a clear emphasis on psychology as a branch of medical practice/science/research.

And FWIW, in keeping with your earlier comments, I also didn't touch any of the math books. In my long-gone school days I was taught to consider math a science, though not itself a "natural" science like biology, chemistry and physics, albeit closely related particularly to the latter. I'd find it hard to abandon that way of thinking.


message 38: by Cindy (new)

Cindy The line is such a close one, I can see your reasoning. I'm fine to leave the math books, I'm just not completely convinved.


message 39: by Babette (new)

Babette Hi Cindy, new here, but I can think of a couple of solidly grounded books by women: Prodigal year and High Tide in Tuscon by Barbara Kingsolver, and Debt, by Margaret Atwood.


message 40: by Kamal (new)

Kamal Arora Fab list - absolutely luved it.


message 41: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl I question whether these belong on here:

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Isn't that just pop social science? (I have not read it.)

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Isn't this more an anti-religious screed than a book about science?


message 42: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 5 books removed.


message 43: by Aglaea (new)

Aglaea Humble thanks for keeping the list nice and cleaned up. Great resource.


message 44: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Deleted


message 45: by Lloyd (new)

Lloyd Burris Burris Numerical System - Expressing Numbers as a Function of Space and Time

This book shows how it is possible to have a Numerical System with numbers that stay the same number of digits but can represent as much information as you want. He has programs written in Microsoft basic that help explain the system. The first program in the book is the most interesting one. This is truly a undiscovered gem.


message 46: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Arrowlush wrote: "Checked for duplicates: 5 books removed."

I don't think so. You're not a librarian.


message 47: by Giovanni (new)

Giovanni Aiello good list


message 48: by Kefiloe (new)

Kefiloe Ramagaga I like this list! The description confused me though, because it says 'science', but excludes some social sciences (history and politics), but includes some sociology and philosophy books. Maybe it should have been confined to natural sciences.

So many books, so little time.


message 49: by Brit (new)

Brit Cheung The list assembles so many amazing books. overwhelmed.


message 50: by Michele (last edited Jun 12, 2016 06:57PM) (new)

Michele Much as I love Joseph Campbell's work, its not science.

#262 Power of Myth.

Neither is Karen Armstrong's History of God. # 316.


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