1001 non fiction books to read before you die
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Here's a project idea that we can all contribute to. What books would we recommend for a publication called "1001 non fiction books to read before you die"? How would we even classify non-fiction?
Seriously I am thinking of proposing this to a publisher and if it does get that far contributions and input would be acknowledged. So,what does everyone suggest?
Ineresting idea ! The only trouble is that alot of books become obsolete over time with new info on whatever subject the book covers .
I think this is a great idea; books may become obsolete, but it is still important to read historically important books. In other words, books that changed society.
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Principles of Geology by Charles Lyell
The Republic by Plato
The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
The Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft
The Principia by Isaac Newton
Not that I'm suggesting anyone actually read The Principia.
edited to get an author correct
Constitution of the United States of America
Charter of the United Nations
If this book became reality and it enticed people to actually read texts fundamental to modern civilization, that would be quite something, wouldn't it? The fiction "1001" would pale in comparison if it got even just a fraction of the readership.
A few that come to mind:
- Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong
(The "Little Red Book")
- Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley)
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (touchstones link to incorrect book and author)
One of my beefs with that 1001 Fiction list is that it ignores whole swaths of the world -- the entire Middle East and North Africa, for example (zip, zilch, nada, not even any Mahfouz), and China. So I'm trying to think of non-fiction works from or about various parts of the world, not just the U.S., but for some reason it seems harder to think of non-fiction titles than fiction ...
Muqadimmah of Ibn Khaldun
The Rihla of Ibn Battuta
Summa Theologiae by Thomas Aquinas
Maimonides' Mishneh Torah or at least the "13 Principles of Faith." Perhaps also his Treatise on Logic.
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
The Analects of Confucius
Edited to add: The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.
(Some touchstones led to incorrect books or authors, so I omitted them.)
For jferrtig and message 3:Mary Wollstonecraft wrote " A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." Mary Shelley, who wrote "Frankenstein" was her daughter.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell comes to mind. Also a lot of history books, for one Johan Huizinga's The Autumn of the Middle Ages.
And I agree, books may be out of date, or have viewpoints that have changed over time, however, those books might have been influential then, might help us understand a piece of history, and have influenced later works.
I for one would love a list like this, I find myself gravitating to non-fiction work more and more (especially now I am out of school and don't have to read non-fiction for school, just for fun).
I really do like the idea for this book ! Hopefully it will happen in the near future , I would buy it ! Instead of a timeline setup like the 1001 fics book , it could be by subject . Which might be better for non-fics .
In Cold Blood
Team of Rivals
Survival in Auschwitz
Voyage of the Beagle
I haven't read enough of the important biographies and histories, but certainly those regarding Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Winston Churchill, Lincoln, John Adams, Jefferson, FDR, Kennedy, Stalin, Ghandi, and many, many more need to be addressed in the book.
The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang
I usually don't go in for lists like this, but I highly recommend E.O. Wilson's Consilience.
This is a wonderful list and I agree with so many of the suggestions. I'd probably add some of the world's basic spiritual texts: the Bible, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching, the Koran. Even if you have no interest in religion, these texts have been deeply influential.
I would also add great poetry texts (and, no, poetry is not fiction): certainly, the Gilgamesh epic, Homer, the Roman de la Rose, Chaucer and Shakespeare.
I think the pre-Socratic philosophers are thought-provoking as is De rerum natura by Lucretius.
For understanding the modern world, John Reader's "Africa: A Biography of a Continent," de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," the great speeches of the last 200 years.
This would be a fabulous compendium.
Night - Elie Wiesel
Washington's Crossing - David Hackett Fischer
John Adams - David McCullough
Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
The Federalist Papers - Hamilton and Madison
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
A Manual for writers - Turabian
-- Strunk and White's Manual of Style
Silent Spring - Rachel Carson
How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie
What color is your parachute
I also agree with
Diary of Anne Frank
Team of Rivals
Gun, Germs & Steel
Origin of Species and/or Voyage of Beagle
Ack! Not Strunk & White - oh, the pain. Geoffrey Pullum, a grammarian and linguist, (as well as his linguistic co-conspirators over at languagelog.org) has written much on why the grammatical advice in Strunk & White is counter-productive. For example, a recent article on the subject: http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i32/32b01501.htm . Although, if you think you need to know what a lot of people believe about writing, even if it is strange, it might still be an essential read, if you do a lot of that sort of thing.
And to continue the negativity... So far there have been two mentions of Guns, Germs, and Steel. With Jared Diamond recently in trouble for being very loose with his facts in one of his articles, does anyone worry he is in danger of being punted from the realms of intellectual acceptability, and what that might do to the reputation of Guns, Germs, and Steel?
So far there have been two mentions of Guns, Germs, and Steel. With Jared Diamond recently in trouble for being very loose with his facts in one of his articles, does anyone worry he is in danger of being punted from the realms of intellectual acceptability, and what that might do to the reputation of Guns, Germs, and Steel?
No clue -- I'd not heard those allegations, nor have I ever read any of Diamond's books. I mainly mentioned the Guns, Germs and Steel because I have seen it mentioned, recommended and raved about approximately 50 zillion times in the various LT groups that I'm on. Obviously it made a big impact on people, at least here on LibraryThing! :D
benmartin, Can you post a link to the criticism of Diamond please? I have enjoyed Diamond's writing, and while he paints with a broad brush, I'm curious to hear what detractors are saying.
I've not read any of Diamond's books either.
Well, there is definitely a defamation lawsuit against Diamond - that much is factual (http://apnews.myway.com/article/20090422/D97NNPMO0.html). Whether the accusations are accurate are not is a separate issue, of course. Here's a fairly detailed accusation against Diamond: http://www.stinkyjournalism.org/latest-journalism-news-updates-149.php . And just in case I didn't make it clear, so far the only accusations relate to one specific article.
Of course, you could argue that books should be included for just that reason, them being influential (or followed) for lots of people, but in the end turning out to be false. The structure of the 1001 before you die type books gives the writer the ability to explain, so the choice can be set in the right light. It would be interesting for example maybe to read some of the anthropological books of the late nineteenth century, not because they are correct, but because they say something about society as a whole at that time....
I think this is a fantastic idea - I'll seek out the book after you get it published! Everything I thought of has already been mentioned (at least once), so I won't list them again.
Just realized that no one mentioned some of the ancients - Plato, Herodotus, Pliny. They need to be represented.
Great idea and great list so far! I especially love the comment in >3: "Not that I'm suggesting anyone actually read The Principia." It's like Finnegan's Wake on the fiction lists. As if! (Not that I'm saying it wouldn't be worthwhile if anyone actually did conquer it! I've tried 3 times and never gotten past page 10 or so....)
Two or three of these have been mentioned earlier in this string:
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair,A Thousand days, John F. Kennedy in the Whitwe House by Arthur M Schlesinger,
Robert Kennedy and His Times by Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Mind of The South by W. J. Cash,
Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (A History of the South) by C. Vann Woodward,
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men- James Agee
New and Selected Poems, 1923-1985, Robert Penn Warren,
Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years (three-volume set), Carl Sandburg
The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg by Carl Sandburg,
The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman by Harry Truman,
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by
Benjamin Franklin, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson,
Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson: The First Three Presidents, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson by Gore Vidal
This was all I could come up with in the twenty minutes that I spent thinking about it. As you can see I am partial to the South, Presidents, and Poets.
35> Yes, of course The Jungle is fiction but I remember reading that it showed the unsanitary conditions of the meatpacking industry and helped to goad congress into passing the the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (which led to creation of the Food and Drug Administration in 1930).
Some more ideas (but I can think of loads more!). Some of this might be a bit Anglocentric/Eurocentric, apologies, but that's where I'm from, and I do notice some fairly American centred entries (understandably)!
Boorstin, Daniel: The Discoverers
Braudel, Fernand: The Identity of France (or pretty much anything he wrote!)
Brogan, Hugh: Penguin History of the USA (unless anyone comes up with a better one - I thought it brilliant)
Bronowski, Jacob: The Ascent of Man
Burrows, William: The New Ocean
Carlyle, Thomas: The French Revolution
Cocker, Mark: Crow Country
Cooke, Alistair: Letter from America
Evans, Richard: Third Reich trilogy
Feynman, Richard: Easy and Not-so Easy Pieces
Gibbon, Edward: History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Gombrich EH: The Story of Art
Gould, Stephen Jay: The Richness of Life(representative of his essays, or maybe Wonderful Life)
Junger, Sebastian: The Perfect Storm
Keegan, John: The Face of War
Lawrence, TE: The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Lovelock, James: Gaia, A New Look at life on Earth
Macaulay, Thomas: History of England from James the Second
Morris, Jan: Venice
Pakenham, Thomas: The Scramble for Africa
Pevsner, Niklaus: History of European Architecture
Pinker, Stephen: The Language Instinct
Raban, Jonathan: quite a choice, possibly Passage to Juneau
Rackham, Oliver: History of the English Countryside in slight preference to WG Hoskins's Making of the English Landscape
Reed, John: Ten Days that Shook the World
Roberts, JM: History of the World
Rodger NAM: The Command of the Ocean
Runciman, Stephen: History of the Crusades
Russell, Bertrand: History of Western Philosophy
Schumacher, EF: Small is Beautiful, and/or Leopold Kohr's The Breakdown of Nations
Simpson, Joe: Touching the Void
Steinbeck, John: Travels with Charley
Taylor AJP: Origins of the Second World War, or Struggle for Mastery in Europe, or collected essays (various different possibilities)
Tudge, Colin: Secret Life of Trees
Thesiger, Wilfred: The Marsh Arabs
Unsworth, Walt: Everest
Watson, James: The Double Helix
White, Gilbert: Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne
Worsley, Frank: Shackleton's Boat Journey
I'm a bit reluctant to suggest biographies, as I think they're very personal, but these are the best I've read:
Boswell, Thomas: Life of Doctor Johnson
Longford, Elizabeth: Wellington - The Years of the Sword
Tomalin, Claire: Samuel Pepys, the Unequalled Self
Uglow, Jenny: Hogarth
I'd also particularly agree with:
Rachel Carson, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn, Barbara Tuchman (quite a range to choose from!), Winston Churchill (could also add The World Crisis and/or History of WW2), Richard Dawkins (but I'd go for Blind Watchmaker),
I'd disagree with the Shirer, as I'd include the Evans instead (unless there was room for 2 volumes on the Third Reich)
How about Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Not easy reading, but a profound work I think.
Across the Wide Missouri Bernard DeVoto
The Civil War trilogy by Shelby Foote
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould
Admiral of the Ocean Sea by Samuel Eliot Morison
A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan
Memoirs of the Second World War by Winston Churchill
hmm maybe a bit slanted towards the American version...
Seeds Of Change: Five Plants That Transformed Mankind - Henry Hobhouse
An Empire Of Plants: People And Plants That Changed The World - Toby & Will Musgrave
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing The Climate And What It Means For Life On Earth - Tim Flannery
With regards to criticisms of Diamond, they don't negatively impact the importance and insight the Guns, Germs, and Steel has had on our understanding of society. It is an important book and will remain so. Steven Ambrose is guilty of plagarism, but he's still a good historian and his books on WWII very useful and entertaining.
I would add the following
The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
Citizens by Simon Schama
The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan (rather than his more erudite, but imposing, multi-volume history)
What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr
The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould (I'm not sure about this one to be perfectly honest, as I'm in the Dawkins/Wilson camp when considering evolutionary science, but Gould was certainly a genius)
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bryson (popular overview of modern science)
That's all I can think of off the top of my mind. If I stuck at it, I'm sure I could come up with plenty more!
Though I'm an atheist myself, I wouldn't object to others including (if only in an appendix or special section) The Bible, the Qu'ran, the Talmud/Torah and the Bagvadhgita. Apologies to those of other faiths, whose scriptures I don't know and haven't mentioned.
My "official" nominations include:
* 1776, by David McCullough
* Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin
* Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer
* The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
* The Civilization of the Middle Ages, by Norman F. Cantor
The semi-official ones -- those which I would like to see included but won't get too weepy about if they aren't -- would have to include:
* Joan of Arc: Her Story, by Régine Pernoud
* The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, by Eric Ives
* Queen of Scots, by John Guy
* either Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel, or her translation of Letters to Father (the letters of that daughter)
* Failure Is Impossible, by Lynn Sherr
* Triangle, by David Von Drehle
I've been thinking not so much about what I would list if I were the only one choosing, but about what is likely to be passed over, but deserves to be on the list.
Thus far, I'm just seconding the "Big 4 Religious" ones, cited above: Bible, Qu'ran, Baghavadgita, and Tao teh Ching. (# 41 omits Tao teh Ching and includes Torah/Talmud) And Of Buddhist scriptures, there isn't an exact counterpart of those 5, but a selection of the Buddhist scriptures belongs on the list.
I would also second Schlesinger Jr.'s Robert Kennedy and Harry Truman's Autobiography, though HST can be very wrong-headed at times.
Machiavelli is sure to be "voted in" and so doesn't fall into the category of "likely overlooked" that I mentioned above. I personally have always thought he was somewhat over-rated, though important. ("No Good" is not, to me, a synonym of "over-rated", though I get the idea that it is for many readers.)
Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat Moon
Dearest Friend: The Life of Abigail Adams by Lynne Withey
Goodbye to All That: An Autobiography by Robert Graves
Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs
Letters from America by Alistair Cook
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
My Day: The Best of Eleanor Roosevelt's Acclaimed Newspaper Columns, 1936 - 1962
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
West With the Night by Beryl Markham
The Wilderness World of John Muir
Last night I read the chapter What is wrong with psychoanalysis? from The Uses and Abuses of Psychologhy by H. J. Eysenck, it still reads ok.
A classic of Social Psychology that I would recommend is Social Class and Mental Illness by August DeBelmont Hollingshead and Fritz Redlich. Where I taught, at 'Atenisi niversity, it was in the library catalog (a card catalog at that time), but had been lost before I started there.
The edition I read was of the fifties (read in the late 50s or early 60s). Since noting its absence in the university I have never seen a copy of it, but I think it has been issued in a new edition. Too bad "Search" doesn't go in for dates of publication, but it may mention the edition as part of the title.
I am new to librarything but I like this idea and I will try to contribute to this group. First, I have a question: how come there are no messages in this thread between July, 2009 and January 2010?
Welcome to LibaryThing, returnwaive. :) The answer to your question is simple: the thread was inactive from July 2009 to January 2010, because nobody posted in it. :) Sometimes threads langush and become inactive, for all kinds of reasons -- much like the ebb and flow of real-life conversation. Sometimes threads are resurrected again days, months, or years later; other times, they are dormant for good.
I would nominate 'The Bell Curve; Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life' (1994). Ignore all those self-righteous dogmatic fools who decry the facts, and just read the book.
I would also recommend looking at the Random House list of the 100 Best Non-fiction Books of the Twentieth Century.
Another that is no less than stunning is 'Endurance; Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, which is the story of how the twenty-eight man crew of a crushed sailing ship escaped from the Antarctic ocean.
Interesting idea! It seems previous posters have covered most of the obvious choices, so I'll be a little more esoteric.
Crimes Against Logic by Jamie Whyte
Discourse on Method and the Meditations by Descartes
The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
The Myth of Sisyphus by Camus
Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche
The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin by Gordon S. Wood
Founding Brothers by J.J. Ellis
Gödel, Escher, Bach by Hofstadter
American Lion by Jon Meacham
The first three I consider absolutely essential reading on a very practical level. The next two are very important, although not critical. The rest are personal favorites on specific topics. For instance, Founding Brothers should be read by anyone with an interest in early American history, but most people could skip it (though I still whole-heartedly recommend it!).
I'll confine myself to memoirs for this list. Here's 10:
The Confessions, Jean Jacques Rousseau
Speak Memory, Vladimir Nabokov
Persepolis I and II, Marjane Satrapi
The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
Mauss I and II, Art Spiegelman
Memoirs of Montparnasse, John Glassco
Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora Neale Hurston
Annapurna, Maurice Herzog
Autobiography of Malcolm X, with Alex Haley
Diamond Grill, Fred Wah
I don't think I've seen A Room of One's Own (Virginia Woolf) mentioned yet.
A Way Out of No Way: The Spiritual Memoirs of Andrew Young
by Andrew Young (others)
An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America by Andrew Young (others)
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Non fiction based on the Gospels of St John, Matthew, and Mark. the Old Testament and revelation. Salvation is physical and you won't be told that in any church or organization. My book is the way I received salvation, an example for mankind. "The Way The Truth And The Life" by Mickey R Mullen If there is any other hope for mankind I couldn't tell you where it is at. Thomas asked Jesus, how can we know the way? Noah had the responsibility of preaching to all of mankind, and only eight people was saved, How many is going to be on the boat when Jesus comes back?
Here is a much unappreciated work which looks at human history at a time scale measured in millennia. It reminds us that all of human civilization is based on one thing, dirt (soil). Where there is no soil, there is no civilization, period. And it turns out that soil is always lost in the process of agricultural production. This takes many centuries, even millennia. Few people remember that the cradle of civilization, the Tigris-Euphrates river valley was known as the Fertile Crescent for thousands of years. Take a look at it now. It is a wasteland.
Read 'Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations' (2008) by David R. Montgomery.
". . .known as the Fertile Crescent for thousands of years . . . . . it is (now) a wasteland." (65)
I did read as late as 1991 that there was still agriculture in the "Fertile Crescent". Superficial estimates of Iraqʻs military strength were in awe over it, implying that Saddam Hussein presided over an army bigger than that of anyone in the world except U.S., China, and Russia. And the typical Iraqi soldier was called a ʻFIerce desert warrior".
Someone a little lest superficial said that the "typical Iraq" soldier was more likely to be a "lettuce farmer" than a "desert warrior".
Does your post, Jim, mean that it has been a waste land thorughout the Modern Era, or that
the two wars have made it one?
I mean that all of that desert that we have seen so much of on TV was fertile productive agricultural land six thousand years ago. Now it is totally barren.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Ethics - Baruch Spinoza
The Fire Next Time - James Baldwin
The Code of Hammurabi - King Hammurabi
Girl, Interrupted - Susanna Kaysen
The Golden Bough - George Frazer
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - Jonathan Edwards
Obedience to Authority - Stanley Milgram
Plunkitt of Tammany Hall - George Washington Plunkitt
The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine
Common Sense - Thomas Paine
Rights of Man - Thomas Paine
The Souls of Black Folk - W. E. B. Du Bois
The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings - Olaudah Equiano
The Naked Civil Servant - Quentin Crisp
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Millions Now Living Will Never Die! - J. F. Rutherford
The Satanic Bible - Anton Levay
Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health Ron L. Hubbard
I've only read about a third of these, but I'm planning on reading the rest. I omitted about five more since they were already mentioned. Pardon the crackpot lit, but considering how much impact their BS has on people both now and historically I think it ought to represented.
edited for touchstones
I would suggest:
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz
I agree with Essa, post 7, that unless all of the non-English speaking world suddenly joins Librarything, we will miss at the very least another 1001 books.
As I look at the books listed in this thread, I am reminded why I tend to stick to only reading non-fiction. There is way too much "real" literature to go through and such a short life time in which to read it all. I look forward to the publication of this book. And thank you, everyone for your great contributions.
Some books from the French speaking world (completely arbitrary choice of course) :
The Essays, by Montaigne
The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, by Fernand Braudel,
A Discourse on Inequality and On the Social Contract, by Rousseau
The Myth of Sisyphus, by Camus
Tristes Tropiques, by Levi-Strauss
Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, by Deleuze
Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison, by Foucault
Mythologies, by Roland Barthes
*LT's touchstones hate me*
Montaillou : Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324, by Le Roy Ladurie
Braudel's Civilization and Capitalism
Also (I know he's American, and it's a real shame he's not better known in France), Jacques Barzun's From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life
>70 thank you thank you- I've been trying to think of the name of that book for ages. I knew I had read it and couldn't think of the title. It is a great and exhilarating read. And one that makes you really appreciate your bed and the roof over your head.
PS was talking about The Long Walk
One of my favourite non-fiction works is Thor Heyerdahl's Fatu-Hiva: Back to Nature.
Maybe the list should be books that you should read even if not required by a class.
History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (Library of America) Henry Adams
History of the United States During the Administrations of James Madison Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams Henry Adams
Principia Ethica G.E.Moore
Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic Gina Kolata
The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini Benvenuto Cellini
Sailing Alone Around the World Joshua Slocum
Thomas Jefferson R. B. Bernstein
Common Sense Thomas Paine
The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956 Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn
Wow, great thread,
A lot of books I would put on the list have already been mentioned. My contributions would be.
John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds. This is cultral history, and not a biography. It's focus is more on what John Brown meant, to both North and South, than just the who, what, where, and how. Excellent read.
The Mansions of Philosophy; A Survey of Human Life and Destiny by Will Durant. Never have I read a book that mand me think more or harder. Great book. (touchstones not working, see my library for more information on the book)
Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz. An insiders history of one of the most historically scientific feats in the history of mankind. Very good book.
Also, I would pretty much put any non-fiction that is in The Harvard Classics on the list, as I have seem most of them are already there.
Edit to add: One more book I just thought of, Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh.
Thanks for all the recommendations! I've added a few of the above listed titles to my wishlists. :)
Books I would add to this list include:
Richard L. Rubenstein's The Cunning of History
Erich Fromm's The Sane Society
Erich Fromm's The Art of Loving
Erich Fromm: Man For Himself
Frans de Waal's The Age of Empathy (great in audio format)
Joseph Campbell's The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: Metaphor as Myth and as Religion
Dr. Thomas Szasz' The Manufacture of Madness
Chris Hedges' War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine
Leonard Shlain's Sex, Time and Power
Dr. James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me (great in audio format and as a gift to newbies opening up to relearning history)
That's my contribution at the moment. ;)
Some that come to mind that I found powerfully moving and changed/enhanced my life in some way and I think would for others (although maybe not in the way this list would be intended): Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder; The Ice Master by Jennifer Niven; The Good Soldiers by David Finkel; Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King; Beautiful Boy by David Sheff; Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindberg; The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea; Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir; Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson; and We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
I hope I didn't miss these and that they're new to the list! Great idea, this list.
I and Thou Martin Buber
Memories, Dreams, Reflections Carl Jung
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - I dont think it has been mentioned yet.
A Short History of Nearly Everything and A Wak in the Woods both by the fabulous Bill Bryson.
What a wonderful list - since I don't own many of them, I need to develop a plan and get reading. Thanks.
There are lots of history books mentioned. Just a few more ideas from other areas:
Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
The Biology of Violence
Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook
Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind (The Successful Stategist)
Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
The Great Crash 1929
How the Mind Works
Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet
The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
Spent: Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
A personal little known favourite would be A matter of style : social security and livelihood in upland East Java, because it teaches you so much about what it means to live as a poor farmer in a Third World country.
And for a summary of the development of (Western) thinking, you may want to peruse Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, from Fire to Freud
I heartily recommend A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes. It is an incredible book about people who love books (a love we all share) and to what lengths they will go to possess the written word.
I would suggest making a distinction between the 1001 most important non-fiction books of all time and the 1001 non-fiction books someone alive today should read before they die. The two lists overlap considerably, but in my opinion they are certainly not identical. It is undeniable that books like Euclid's Elements of Geometry, Newton's Principia Mathematica, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and the Bible are among the most influential books ever written; but as noted by one person above in the case of the Principia, I wouldn't recommend to anyone that they actually sit with one of these books and work through it cover to cover, unless they have an extremely specialized interest in the field. One can get a much better understanding of the ideas expressed in those books, and with less effort, by reading other sources. Of course, some classic books are highly readable and still worth the effort, such as Darwin's The Origin of Species and Plato's dialogues, so I'd include them in both lists.
Two great books I haven't seen suggested above are Carl Sagan's Cosmos (which is worth reading even if you've seen the PBS series), and Antonio Damasio's Descartes's Error. Both highly illuminating, profound, and fun to read.
96: Excellent point.
I also find myself wondering if picking specific books, rather than types of books, is a mistake. For instance why Blue Highways rather than The Iron Rooster or Old Glory or Life on the Mississippi. A travelogue by a decent writer? yes. A specific travelogue? I'm not sure.
I think I'll start a new thread where we could discuss the 1001 types of non-fiction books you might want to investigate. I'll post here when I get it started.
How funny that this is exactly the type of thread I was hoping to find here :P Great ideas everyone! I would add:
The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil by Zimbardo
Forty studies that changed psychology : explorations into the history of psychological research
A book by Noam Chomsky
And I definitely agree we need The Origin of the Species.
I was sure I had more, but may have to come back :P
I guess this depends on how you view religious/spiritual texts, but, as a comparative religion major and an enthusiast of the subject, I'd suggest:
the Bible (preferably the NRSV, but definitely not the KJV or NIV,as both are especially problematic when it comes to translation): One of the largest influences on western civilization and culture, its rather difficult to truly appreciate western literature without having some knowledge of it, as its symbolism etc is used extensively.
the Qur'an: Especially with what's going on now in the Middle East, a bit of knowledge about the Muslim Holy Text is a good thing. Christianity and Islam both share the same prophetic lineage, and it shows.
the Bhagavad Gita: Refered to innacurately as the "Bible of the Hindus" by westerners in the early and middle 20th century, this is probably the easiest entry point into Hindu religious thought, and a keystone text of Hindu esotericism, or Yoga.
the Upanishads: The great philosophical texts of the Hindu tradition, if your looking for something to make you think and see the world in a totally new way, there's no better place to go than here.
the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: The closest thing to a "Bible" of Yoga, if you want to practice Yoga as anything more than simply exercise, and even if you don't, you really should take a look at this book. Patanjali lays out a complete system for physical, spiritual, and moral development.
In terms of more recent stuff:
The Science of Mind: Written by Ernest Holmes in the early 20th century, this is an early work in the history of the "New Thought" or New Age movement, and the Bible of Religious Science, one of the few early religions within the New Age movement thats still around and strong.
A Course in Miracles: If you're Christian and open to something a little different, try this on for size. Helen Shucman, channeling Christ, wrote the book in the 70s. A combination of Christianity, Eastern religion, and psychology, the course turns Christian thought on its head. Its almost guaranteed that, if you're willing to go along for the ride, you won't come away from reading this baby quite the same as you were before.
100 > I would argue about your exclusion of the KJV. While it may be a bad translation, its language has had tremendous cultural influence.
I guess I should clarify that I'm not excluding it necessarily. I think it should be read, but, as the language is a couple hundred years old, it would be beneficial to most people to have a modern translation to ride side-by-side. This would, hopefully, take care of translation mistakes like "covet" in the Commandments, which actually means steal or take, not drool over and wish you had, which most people interpret it as. Though I'm leaning into a discussion thats not on topic for this particular thread.
Good points! I came here to suggest Double Helix, but I see that someone beat me to it :)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Schaerer(?)(sp.)
46> rolandperkins: the Dhammapada would probably be the closest counterpart. However, I'd also read in the Buddha's Words and/or the Wings to Awakening. Though none of that includes anything outside the Therevada tradition, its still a good grounding in what can be most reliably said to have been taught by the historical Buddha.
I like this idea. I would enjoy each chapter beginning with the pic of the front cover, then a small description of the book with the bulk of the chapter sharing about the author and how the book came to be. A sort of non-fictional discription of each nonfiction book and author.
Kudos to cedric for a wonderful idea, and to LibraryThing for bringing us closer to better information to implement it. Many of us continue to look forward to non-fiction reporting enhancements to better assist choices for such a volume. My lengthy, yet unwritten, suggestions list includes textbooks for the major college majors -- maths, sciences, engineering, business, economics, law, political science, philosophy -- the list goes on and on. From reading these textbooks closely one should be able to glean the equivalent of a university degree in these subjects, so my conception of the list reflects the substantial lifelong accomplishment reading it represents.
If anyone would like, I have a list of 1148 nonfiction books based on suggestions, interests and "best of" lists. It would take several posts, but I could post them here by subject if you like. Or you can just message me and I can send you the Excel spreadsheet. Anyone interested in me posting here?
For such a long list, first posting it to your own web space, then posting a link to it here would be preferable.
"list of 1,148 nonfiction books. . .would take several posts."
Iʻd like to see it posted. Though Iʻm not computer illiterate, I am a very "slow reader", and I doubt that an Excel spreadsheet would, under my guidance, make it
onto this screen
>109 - send it over if you want - I can spend some time and enter it here with touchstones and what's not (100 per message or something)...
PS: Mail sent on PM
OK everyone - new thread or posting here in this one? :)
An external link will lack the touchstones. Which make some of those list really easy to browse.
I'm going to do a separate post with all the books and touchstones. I'll post the link here but it will be under Jillbone's List of Nonfiction Books.
Here's the thread
jillbone , just read through most of your new thread ! Thanks for putting it together !!!! We really appreciate the effort !!!!
This is the final list right now at 1153. Enjoy and Merry Christmukkah!
Jill, thank you for this. What a great list! How did you compile the books and categories? Is it based on the various requests for "best of" on Librarything, or some other source?
I based these off of awards lists, best of lists in magazines (the Guardian, NY Times, etc), suggestions from LTers, books I hear about that sound interesting (from Npr and the like), books from other books bibliographies, etc...Pretty much everywhere. The categories are actually based on where they fall in the Dewey Decimal System. FIgured it was the best way to organize them. As you can see, most fall where my own interests lie -- sociology, anthropology and american history, but I'm open to all suggestions myself.
What a fabulous list! Thank you, Jill. I've starred it so I can find it again easily in case it disappears into the bowels of LT.
Most of the books such as historical, health, and spiritual kind do retain their value. Many of them have to be repeatedly read to use/practice the valuable information.
If 'we are what we ingest', I'd recommend Hobhouse. Seeds of Change.
Everything by Barbara Tuchman
Rubicon by Tom Holland
Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields by David Corbin
Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves
The Soul's Code by James Hillman
Hungry Ghosts by Jasper Becker
In Pharaoh's Army by Tobias Wolff
On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
The Fifth Book of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Life and Death of a Druid Prince by Anne Ross
I know that I could be happy reading only non-fiction (and poetry) forever. I like fiction books very much, but I also know I wouldn't be happy if that's all I had access to.
A modest contribution to this list:
Ethica Nicomachea by Aristotle
Everything that Kant wrote
Everything that Nietzsche wrote
A couple of things from Marx, some works by Schopenhauer, maybe a little Hegel
Rawls - A Theory of Justice
Dialektik der Aufklärung by Horkheimer and Adorno
and the list goes on... Maybe it should be called "1 million and 1 non fiction books to read before you die"
Well, maybe not THAT modest! That might take me awhile and I'm already 63. Maybe too late for me. :)
Of the books that I've read, I would include:
George Washington: A Biography by Douglas Southall Freeman
The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers by Paul Kennedy
Two Treatises of Government by John Locke
On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
There are many others that I could include by reputation alone, or merely for their historical importance, but I'll leave it to what I know directly.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.