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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4.17 avg rating — 173,810 ratings
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2

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4.09 avg rating — 150,908 ratings
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3

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4.35 avg rating — 61,159 ratings
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4

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4.10 avg rating — 77,552 ratings
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5

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3.98 avg rating — 161,147 ratings
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6

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4.27 avg rating — 36,710 ratings
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7

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3.89 avg rating — 144,036 ratings
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8

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4.29 avg rating — 74,137 ratings
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9

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3.95 avg rating — 59,188 ratings
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10

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4.05 avg rating — 57,265 ratings
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11

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3.91 avg rating — 478,960 ratings
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12

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4.29 avg rating — 28,748 ratings
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13

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4.02 avg rating — 310,060 ratings
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14

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4.16 avg rating — 576 ratings
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15

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4.15 avg rating — 31,534 ratings
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16

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4.08 avg rating — 65,503 ratings
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17

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4.02 avg rating — 84,104 ratings
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18

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4.02 avg rating — 476 ratings
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19

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4.07 avg rating — 19,367 ratings
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20

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4.11 avg rating — 21,427 ratings
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21

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4.57 avg rating — 5,041 ratings
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22

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3.97 avg rating — 20,344 ratings
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23

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4.08 avg rating — 308,296 ratings
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24

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4.11 avg rating — 15,296 ratings
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25

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3.88 avg rating — 24,450 ratings
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26

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4.05 avg rating — 104,062 ratings
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27

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really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 15,496 ratings
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28

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4.30 avg rating — 16,657 ratings
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29

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3.91 avg rating — 42,782 ratings
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30

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3.93 avg rating — 36,021 ratings
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31

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3.85 avg rating — 287,358 ratings
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32

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3.96 avg rating — 13,131 ratings
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33

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4.19 avg rating — 15,448 ratings
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34

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4.10 avg rating — 21,675 ratings
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35

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4.32 avg rating — 12,991 ratings
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36

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4.19 avg rating — 10,617 ratings
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37

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4.16 avg rating — 11,920 ratings
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38

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3.98 avg rating — 14,534 ratings
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39

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3.96 avg rating — 12,102 ratings
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40

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3.87 avg rating — 10,907 ratings
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41

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4.04 avg rating — 12,355 ratings
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42

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3.79 avg rating — 26,340 ratings
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43

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4.15 avg rating — 7,376 ratings
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44

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4.09 avg rating — 12,335 ratings
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45

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4.11 avg rating — 6,879 ratings
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46

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4.29 avg rating — 11,244 ratings
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47

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4.03 avg rating — 97,064 ratings
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48

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4.07 avg rating — 21,276 ratings
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49

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4.10 avg rating — 14,816 ratings
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50

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3.91 avg rating — 22,325 ratings
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51

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4.05 avg rating — 13,870 ratings
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52

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3.95 avg rating — 13,466 ratings
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53

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4.15 avg rating — 5,451 ratings
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54

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4.25 avg rating — 12,349 ratings
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55

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3.86 avg rating — 12,215 ratings
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56

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3.98 avg rating — 36,528 ratings
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57

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3.95 avg rating — 12,033 ratings
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58

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4.02 avg rating — 13,481 ratings
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59

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4.22 avg rating — 9,202 ratings
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60

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4.18 avg rating — 4,119 ratings
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61

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3.92 avg rating — 21,644 ratings
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62

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4.16 avg rating — 11,282 ratings
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63

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4.25 avg rating — 41,291 ratings
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64

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3.87 avg rating — 397,320 ratings
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65

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3.91 avg rating — 15,245 ratings
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66

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3.94 avg rating — 5,977 ratings
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67

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4.04 avg rating — 33,982 ratings
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68

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3.93 avg rating — 58,869 ratings
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69

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3.87 avg rating — 4,304 ratings
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70

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4.12 avg rating — 2,216 ratings
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71

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4.15 avg rating — 12,177 ratings
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72

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3.73 avg rating — 4,983 ratings
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73

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4.02 avg rating — 3,895 ratings
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74

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4.16 avg rating — 11,351 ratings
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75

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4.03 avg rating — 5,874 ratings
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76

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4.15 avg rating — 5,217 ratings
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77

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4.06 avg rating — 19,883 ratings
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78

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4.02 avg rating — 6,965 ratings
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79

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4.28 avg rating — 13,614 ratings
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80

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4.13 avg rating — 10,816 ratings
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81

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3.86 avg rating — 3,965 ratings
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82

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4.03 avg rating — 6,131 ratings
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83

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3.72 avg rating — 18,807 ratings
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84

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4.27 avg rating — 6,898 ratings
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85

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4.11 avg rating — 4,486 ratings
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86

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4.14 avg rating — 3,343 ratings
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87

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3.99 avg rating — 16,447 ratings
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88

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4.01 avg rating — 169,571 ratings
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89

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4.03 avg rating — 6,556 ratings
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90

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4.20 avg rating — 1,402 ratings
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91

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4.16 avg rating — 10,430 ratings
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92

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4.15 avg rating — 3,244 ratings
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93

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4.28 avg rating — 6,301 ratings
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94

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4.15 avg rating — 3,882 ratings
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95

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4.16 avg rating — 10,889 ratings
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96

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4.07 avg rating — 52,332 ratings
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97

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4.18 avg rating — 3,343 ratings
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98

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4.04 avg rating — 10,519 ratings
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99

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3.92 avg rating — 73,296 ratings
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100

by
4.13 avg rating — 5,728 ratings
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flag this list (?)
992 books · 2,415 voters · list created August 22nd, 2008 by Cindy (votes) .
1237 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy 6805 books
133 friends
Eli 4 books
2 friends
Alleyprowler 43 books
5 friends
Matthew 69 books
12 friends
Tara 847 books
249 friends
Aaron 15 books
2 friends
Jill 1605 books
88 friends
Greg 329 books
8 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-48)




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message 48: by Keely (new)

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


message 47: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Brave New Woprld is science fiction, not science.


message 46: 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 45: 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 44: by Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) (last edited Feb 15, 2011 09:57AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) "Longitude"? "Sophie's World" (again)? "Galileo's Daughter"?


message 43: by Lesli (new)

Lesli Disappearing Spoon is in position 43 and 203.


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) Fixed -- there were several duplicates, in fact. I've combined them.


message 41: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Thanks!


message 40: 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 (Does not and never will own a Kindle) I assume someone already removed Brave New World? I just went through the list and I could no longer find it.


message 38: 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 (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 36: 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 35: by Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) (last edited Aug 02, 2012 03:01AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 34: 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 (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 32: 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 31: 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 30: by Celeste (new)

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


message 29: by Ankita (new)

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


message 28: 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 26: 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 25: by Rebecca (new)

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


message 24: 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 23: by Cindy (new)

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


message 22: 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 21: by Ali (new)

Ali Ismail what a great list!


message 20: 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 19: by Oni (new)

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


Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 17: 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 16: 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 15: by Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) (last edited Aug 21, 2013 11:34AM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 14: 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 13: 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 (Does not and never will own a Kindle) 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 11: 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 10: 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 9: by Kamal (new)

Kamal Arora Fab list - absolutely luved it.


message 8: 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 7: by Paul (new)

Paul Bowes Checked for duplicates: 5 books removed.


message 6: by Aglaea (new)

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


message 5: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Deleted


message 4: 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 3: by Lobstergirl (new)

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

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


message 2: by Giovanni (new)

Giovanni Aiello good list


message 1: 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.


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