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 — 3,558 ratings
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102 Parallel Worlds: A Journey ...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 7,682 ratings
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103 The Day the Universe Change...
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 1,078 ratings
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104 A Sand County Almanac with ...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 13,072 ratings
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105 Sex at Dawn: The Prehistori...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 8,676 ratings
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106 The Map That Changed the Wo...
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 6,466 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 — 4,247 ratings
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108 The Age of Wonder: How the ...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 4,602 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 — 3,124 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 — 7,316 ratings
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111 One, Two, Three...Infinity:...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 1,392 ratings
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112 The Character of Physical Law
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4.31 of 5 stars 4.31 avg rating — 2,139 ratings
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113 The Information: A History,...
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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95 avg rating — 7,396 ratings
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114 Coming of Age in the Milky Way
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 1,487 ratings
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115 The Brain That Changes Itse...
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4.22 of 5 stars 4.22 avg rating — 12,695 ratings
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116 The Emperor's New Mind Conc...
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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78 avg rating — 3,173 ratings
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117 Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
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4.26 of 5 stars 4.26 avg rating — 2,416 ratings
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117 The Island of the Colorblind
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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87 avg rating — 2,000 ratings
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119 Black Holes and Baby Universes
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 6,127 ratings
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120 Genius: The Life and Scienc...
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4.17 of 5 stars 4.17 avg rating — 9,304 ratings
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121 1491: New Revelations of th...
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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01 avg rating — 25,640 ratings
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122 A Briefer History of Time
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 13,346 ratings
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123 The Song of the Dodo: Islan...
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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29 avg rating — 3,921 ratings
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124 And the Band Played on
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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38 avg rating — 12,085 ratings
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125 How I Killed Pluto and Why ...
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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 3,794 ratings
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126 The Naked Ape: A Zoologist'...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 4,663 ratings
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127 Billions & Billions: Though...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 6,850 ratings
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128 Dreams of a Final Theory: T...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 731 ratings
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129 Gaia: A New Look at Life on...
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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80 avg rating — 684 ratings
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130 In Search of Schrödinger's ...
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3.97 of 5 stars 3.97 avg rating — 8,596 ratings
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131 Krakatoa: The Day the World...
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 9,901 ratings
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132 A Devil's Chaplain: Reflect...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 4,182 ratings
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133 The Believing Brain: From G...
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 3,677 ratings
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134 The Descent of Man
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 1,984 ratings
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135 Annals of the Former World
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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35 avg rating — 1,829 ratings
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136 The Trouble with Physics: T...
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3.94 of 5 stars 3.94 avg rating — 4,160 ratings
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137 Nature's Numbers: The Unrea...
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 306 ratings
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138 The Logic of Scientific Dis...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 2,558 ratings
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139 Flu: The Story Of The Great...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 3,071 ratings
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140 My Stroke of Insight: A Bra...
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 12,314 ratings
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141 Packing for Mars: The Curio...
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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92 avg rating — 23,000 ratings
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142 Just Six Numbers: The Deep ...
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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91 avg rating — 1,495 ratings
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143 Quiet: The Power of Introve...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 95,749 ratings
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144 Gorillas in the Mist
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4.16 of 5 stars 4.16 avg rating — 11,148 ratings
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145 The Invisible Gorilla: And ...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 5,889 ratings
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146 The Language of God: A Scie...
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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77 avg rating — 4,573 ratings
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146 Why Is Sex Fun? The Evoluti...
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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67 avg rating — 2,633 ratings
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148 What Is This Thing Called S...
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 481 ratings
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149 The Black Hole War: My Batt...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 3,241 ratings
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150 The Control of Nature
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4.24 of 5 stars 4.24 avg rating — 2,202 ratings
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151 E=mc²: A Biography of the W...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 4,053 ratings
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152 Where the Wild Things Were:...
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 725 ratings
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153 Feynman's Lost Lecture: The...
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 1,107 ratings
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154 Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 2,783 ratings
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155 The Extended Phenotype: The...
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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06 avg rating — 3,790 ratings
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156 The Oxford Book of Modern S...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 732 ratings
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157 Bonk: The Curious Coupling ...
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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81 avg rating — 27,914 ratings
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158 The Seven Daughters Of Eve
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 3,390 ratings
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159 The Principle of Relativity...
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4.37 of 5 stars 4.37 avg rating — 318 ratings
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159 Free Will
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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79 avg rating — 9,610 ratings
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161 Connections
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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27 avg rating — 1,062 ratings
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162 Consilience: The Unity of K...
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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90 avg rating — 2,550 ratings
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163 The Demon Under the Microsc...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 1,795 ratings
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164 The Strangest Man: The Hidd...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 1,916 ratings
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165 The Periodic Table
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4.19 of 5 stars 4.19 avg rating — 4,212 ratings
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166 The Canon: A Whirligig Tour...
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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66 avg rating — 1,955 ratings
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167 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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168 The Medusa and the Snail: M...
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4.11 of 5 stars 4.11 avg rating — 830 ratings
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169 Mendeleyev's Dream
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 131 ratings
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170 Poetry of the Universe
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3.82 of 5 stars 3.82 avg rating — 112 ratings
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171 The Stuff of Thought: Langu...
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3.86 of 5 stars 3.86 avg rating — 4,580 ratings
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172 13 Things That Don't Make S...
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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73 avg rating — 2,965 ratings
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173 Stumbling on Happiness
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3.76 of 5 stars 3.76 avg rating — 22,171 ratings
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174 The Better Angels of Our Na...
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 6,356 ratings
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175 The Calendar
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3.84 of 5 stars 3.84 avg rating — 437 ratings
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176 Mistakes Were Made (But Not...
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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96 avg rating — 8,285 ratings
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177 In the Shadow of Man
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 3,445 ratings
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178 Seven Mysteries of Life: An...
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4.46 of 5 stars 4.46 avg rating — 241 ratings
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179 The Wayfinders: Why Ancient...
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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18 avg rating — 872 ratings
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180 Breaking the Spell: Religio...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 6,001 ratings
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181 The Bell Curve: Intelligenc...
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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23 avg rating — 1,096 ratings
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182 The Meaning Of It All: Thou...
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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07 avg rating — 3,130 ratings
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183 The First Three Minutes: A ...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 4,143 ratings
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184 Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitoch...
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4.25 of 5 stars 4.25 avg rating — 743 ratings
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185 Prisoner's Dilemma
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 741 ratings
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186 What Is Mathematics?: An El...
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4.28 of 5 stars 4.28 avg rating — 578 ratings
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187 Survival of the Sickest: A ...
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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14 avg rating — 3,387 ratings
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188 The Fractal Geometry of Nature
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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15 avg rating — 468 ratings
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189 Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toe...
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4.09 of 5 stars 4.09 avg rating — 1,187 ratings
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190 Why People Believe Weird Th...
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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89 avg rating — 5,287 ratings
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191 Spook: Science Tackles the ...
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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54 avg rating — 18,457 ratings
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192 Labyrinths of Reason: Parad...
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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98 avg rating — 283 ratings
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193 Isaac Newton
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3.83 of 5 stars 3.83 avg rating — 2,820 ratings
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194 Quantum Enigma: Physics Enc...
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4.02 of 5 stars 4.02 avg rating — 696 ratings
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195 The Meaning of Relativity
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4.32 of 5 stars 4.32 avg rating — 447 ratings
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196 Before the Big Bang: The Pr...
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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51 avg rating — 118 ratings
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197 Musicophilia: Tales of Musi...
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3.85 of 5 stars 3.85 avg rating — 23,283 ratings
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198 The Case for Mars: The Plan...
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4.03 of 5 stars 4.03 avg rating — 1,039 ratings
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199 Under the Sea Wind
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4.13 of 5 stars 4.13 avg rating — 297 ratings
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200 The Invention of Air
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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74 avg rating — 1,751 ratings
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flag this list (?)
740 books · 1,857 voters · list created August 22nd, 2008 by Cindy (votes) .
518 likes · like
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Cindy
Cindy
6251 books
121 friends
Eli
Eli
4 books
2 friends
Alleyprowler
Alleyprowler
32 books
4 friends
Matthew
Matthew
69 books
12 friends
Tara
Tara
832 books
229 friends
Aaron
Aaron
15 books
2 friends
Jill
Jill
1540 books
83 friends
Greg
Greg
306 books
7 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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