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.
101 Black Holes and Time Warps:...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 3,642 ratings
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102 A Sand County Almanac with ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 13,206 ratings
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103 Parallel Worlds: A Journey ...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 7,815 ratings
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104 Sex at Dawn: The Prehistori...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 8,812 ratings
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105 The Age of Wonder: How the ...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 4,649 ratings
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106 The Day the Universe Change...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 1,091 ratings
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107 The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neur...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 4,342 ratings
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108 The Map That Changed the Wo...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 6,563 ratings
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109 Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Ein...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 3,157 ratings
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110 The Red Queen: Sex and the ...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 7,450 ratings
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111 The Character of Physical Law
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4.3 of 5 stars 4.30 avg rating — 2,190 ratings
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112 The Information: A History,...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 7,494 ratings
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113 1491: New Revelations of th...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 26,054 ratings
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114 One, Two, Three...Infinity:...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 1,429 ratings
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115 Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 2,455 ratings
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116 A Briefer History of Time
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 13,719 ratings
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117 Coming of Age in the Milky Way
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 1,516 ratings
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118 The Naked Ape: A Zoologist'...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 4,716 ratings
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119 The Brain That Changes Itse...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 12,891 ratings
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120 The Emperor's New Mind Conc...
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 3,221 ratings
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121 The Island of the Colorblind
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 2,320 ratings
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122 The Song of the Dodo: Islan...
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 3,956 ratings
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123 Black Holes and Baby Universes
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 6,310 ratings
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124 Quiet: The Power of Introve...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 99,540 ratings
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125 Genius: The Life and Scienc...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 9,451 ratings
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126 And the Band Played on
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 12,209 ratings
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127 The Believing Brain: From G...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 3,737 ratings
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128 Packing for Mars: The Curio...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 23,325 ratings
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129 How I Killed Pluto and Why ...
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 3,859 ratings
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130 The Trouble with Physics: T...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 4,210 ratings
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131 Billions & Billions: Though...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 6,951 ratings
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132 Dreams of a Final Theory: T...
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 758 ratings
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133 Bonk: The Curious Coupling ...
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 28,273 ratings
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134 The Descent of Man
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 2,007 ratings
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135 Annals of the Former World
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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 1,861 ratings
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136 Gaia: A New Look at Life on...
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 697 ratings
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137 In Search of Schrödinger's ...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 8,732 ratings
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138 Krakatoa: The Day the World...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 9,988 ratings
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139 A Devil's Chaplain: Reflect...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 4,233 ratings
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140 Just Six Numbers: The Deep ...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 1,539 ratings
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141 Nature's Numbers: The Unrea...
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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65 avg rating — 314 ratings
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142 The Black Hole War: My Batt...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 3,317 ratings
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142 The Logic of Scientific Dis...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 2,579 ratings
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144 Flu: The Story Of The Great...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 3,111 ratings
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145 Gorillas in the Mist
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 11,399 ratings
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146 Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 2,858 ratings
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147 Why Is Sex Fun? The Evoluti...
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 2,684 ratings
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148 My Stroke of Insight: A Bra...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 12,435 ratings
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149 The Oxford Book of Modern S...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 742 ratings
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150 Where the Wild Things Were:...
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 751 ratings
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151 The Canon: A Whirligig Tour...
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 1,968 ratings
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152 The Invisible Gorilla: And ...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 6,076 ratings
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153 The Language of God: A Scie...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 4,630 ratings
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154 What Is This Thing Called S...
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 487 ratings
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155 The Control of Nature
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 2,225 ratings
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156 E=mc²: A Biography of the W...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 4,086 ratings
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157 Feynman's Lost Lecture: The...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 1,144 ratings
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158 The Extended Phenotype: The...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 3,870 ratings
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159 The Better Angels of Our Na...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,580 ratings
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160 The Seven Daughters Of Eve
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 3,436 ratings
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161 The Principle of Relativity...
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4.36 of 5 stars 4.36 avg rating — 319 ratings
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161 Free Will
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 9,761 ratings
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163 Mistakes Were Made (But Not...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 8,663 ratings
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164 Connections
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 1,087 ratings
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165 Consilience: The Unity of K...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 2,565 ratings
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166 The Demon Under the Microsc...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 1,845 ratings
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167 The Strangest Man: The Hidd...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,957 ratings
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168 The Periodic Table
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 4,263 ratings
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169 Eve's Rib: Searching for th...
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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88 avg rating — 8 ratings
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170 The Medusa and the Snail: M...
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4.12 of 5 stars 4.12 avg rating — 842 ratings
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171 The First Three Minutes: A ...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 4,245 ratings
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172 Mendeleyev's Dream
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 133 ratings
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173 In the Shadow of Man
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 3,499 ratings
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174 Poetry of the Universe
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 112 ratings
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175 The Wayfinders: Why Ancient...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 889 ratings
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176 The Stuff of Thought: Langu...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 4,613 ratings
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177 13 Things That Don't Make S...
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 2,999 ratings
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178 Stumbling on Happiness
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 22,533 ratings
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179 Spook: Science Tackles the ...
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 18,695 ratings
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180 The Calendar
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 444 ratings
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181 Seven Mysteries of Life: An...
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4.47 of 5 stars 4.47 avg rating — 244 ratings
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181 The Meaning of Relativity
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 456 ratings
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183 Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toe...
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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 1,194 ratings
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183 Breaking the Spell: Religio...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 6,090 ratings
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185 The Bell Curve: Intelligenc...
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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25 avg rating — 1,141 ratings
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186 The Meaning Of It All: Thou...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 3,171 ratings
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187 Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitoch...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 761 ratings
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188 Prisoner's Dilemma
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 754 ratings
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189 Under the Sea Wind
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 301 ratings
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190 What Is Mathematics?: An El...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 596 ratings
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191 Survival of the Sickest: A ...
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 3,446 ratings
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192 The Fractal Geometry of Nature
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 479 ratings
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193 Why People Believe Weird Th...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 5,353 ratings
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194 Labyrinths of Reason: Parad...
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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99 avg rating — 285 ratings
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195 Isaac Newton
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 2,881 ratings
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196 One River
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4.43 of 5 stars 4.43 avg rating — 801 ratings
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197 Quantum Enigma: Physics Enc...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 714 ratings
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198 Before the Big Bang: The Pr...
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3.52 of 5 stars 3.52 avg rating — 119 ratings
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198 Oxygen: The Molecule That M...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 547 ratings
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200 Musicophilia: Tales of Musi...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 23,639 ratings
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flag this list (?)
814 books · 1,884 voters · list created August 22nd, 2008 by Cindy (votes) .
549 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy
Cindy
6304 books
120 friends
Eli
Eli
4 books
2 friends
Alleyprowler
Alleyprowler
35 books
4 friends
Matthew
Matthew
69 books
12 friends
Tara
Tara
832 books
229 friends
Aaron
Aaron
15 books
2 friends
Jill
Jill
1541 books
83 friends
Greg
Greg
307 books
8 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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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 (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 6: 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 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 (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 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 (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 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 (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 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 (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 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 (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 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 (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 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 (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 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.


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