This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie around the theme “back to school”. I’m sure there’s plenty of YA novels out there people are recommending that involve schools, so I’m gonna take the other way and send y’all back to school — with some non-fiction books I think are awesome.
- A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor. The objects are all in the British Museum, so there’s definitely some problems with a very Western viewpoint, but I found it all fascinating and MacGregor does acknowledge the issues. There’s a little bit of history from all over the world here, even if it is only a very little bit in some cases.
- Pompeii, by Mary Beard. Going from the general to the hyperfocused, Mary Beard’s book on Pompeii is a fascinating survey of what we know and can guess about Pompeii.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. If you haven’t read this, I definitely recommend it: it’s a fascinating look at the development of cancer research, and the debts incurred along the way. There’s a lot of issues about race and consent that are worth considering.
- Shaking Hands With Death, by Terry Pratchett. Or the longer book which contains that essay, A Slip of the Keyboard. I’m wholly supportive of the initiative to pass laws on assisted suicide, and Pratchett’s words are to the point and heartfelt.
- The Ancestor’s Tale, by Richard Dawkins. This book is really the best of Dawkins — mostly devoid of sniping at religious people, and concentrating on the science. The Ancestor’s Tale tells the tale of human ancestry, back through countless common ancestors. Provided you believe in evolution, this might be the least controversial Dawkins book, since as I recall it doesn’t propose any new theories either.
- Spillover, by David Quammen. Are you scared about the idea of a pandemic? We’re making them more likely all the time, and this book is a very good look at how and why.
- Behind the Shock Machine, by Gina Perry. Stanley Milgram’s shock experiments are so famous that the findings have spilled out of psychology and into general knowledge. But Gina Perry examines the evidence from the experiments and raises some serious questions about Milgram’s ethics, and even his results.
- Stonehenge, by Mike Parker Pearson. Pearson was part of a huge project at Stonehenge to reinterpret the evidence and expand what we know. His theories are pretty well supported by the archaeology, on which he did a lot of work.
- Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan. Our brains are really, really weird. Like, turns out that there are autoimmune disorders of the brain which can mimic various psychological problems, and pass almost under the radar — instead, Cahalan’s condition was dismissed as borderline personality disorder, psychopathy, etc. And yet she was curable, with antibiotics. It just goes to prove we don’t know everything yet.
- DNA, by James Watson. Skip Watson’s admittedly historically important The Double Helix unless you want to be enraged. DNA has much the same information and a lot more, while being more accessible and less sexist.
Tahdah! I know it’s a rather eclectic mix; that’s how my brain works, I’m afraid. Any of these catch your eye?