future reading suggestions anyone?

For those who like to plan their reading in advance, I’m lining up some books for the future. We’re starting Irrelgion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up by John Allen Paulos this week (note the new icon on the sidebar!), and we’ve already got some lighter fare on the schedule, but some good suggestions for other books are always welcome!

Below the fold are a couple of interesting books we might read this summer. Any other suggestions? (Any good graphic novels? I think that would be fun.)

Suggested by skepchick reader Josh:

Caveman Mystique CoverI recently noticed a book that I think would be a perfect subject for the Skepchick book club. It’s called The Caveman Mystique: Pop-Darwinism and the Debates Over Sex, Violence, and Science. As the title implies, it sits at an interesting crossroads between science and feminism in that it sets out to debunk some of the ridiculous (and discredited) evo-psych claims that reinforce standard reactionary attitudes about gender relations.

I haven’t read it myself, so I can’t really say whether it succeeds at all that. But the subject matter is at least intriguing and, I think, important to talk about. Here’s an author interview for more info.

Suggested by Chris Mooney:

Hot Topic CoverThe Best Global Warming Book I’ve Ever Read…and I have read a lot of them, including Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Nevertheless, the book I just reviewed in the latest New Scientist–Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King’s The Hot Topic–trounces them all. This it does by being simultaneously more comprehensive, and less ideological, than any other global warming book I’m aware of.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. I just finished "The Age of American Unreason" by Susan Jacoby, the author of "Freethinkers." It was a great look at America's attitude to intellectualism, from individuals to politics, etc.

  2. Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything.

    Nearly 600 pages describing the Big Bang till now, countless 'wow'-moments, insights in diverse corners of science: nothing sceptic though, just a great, well-informed and witty science book. Encyclopaedic value (up to a certain point), great for travel and pre-sleep, for a mere $20 it can be yours! Order now!

  3. I have an ususual suggestion: a children's book – you can read it cover to cover in an hour. However, for any of you skeptics wanting to share ideas with your kids, it's an excellent place to start. (I don't have kids, but I like this book anyway.)

    The book is "The Ghost on Saturday Night" by Sid Fleischman. A story about a con artist, foiled by a kid and his clever aunt. Stuffed full of fine, critical reasoning on a kid level. I highly recommend it.

  4. These are all great ideas so far, but I really love the children's book idea! I will definitely check that one out and add it to our list.

  5. My feminist friendly comic lovin husband recommends "Y: The Last Man' graphic novel series by Brian K Vaughan Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan Jr. There are approximately 9 short books in the series at this point with the 10th graphic novel as conclusion to the story. Each novel contains about 5 issues of the comic series. Here is the synopsis from his copy:

    "Welcome the the UNMANNED world. In the summer of 2002, a plague of unknown origin destroyed every last sperm, fetus, and fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome-with the exception of one young man [whose interest include Houdini and escapism, according to my DH] and his male pet monkey. This 'gendercide' instantaneously exterminated 48% of the global population, or approximately 2.9 billion men.

    Now aided by the mysterious [smart and totally awesome] Agent 355, the last human male Yorick Brown must contend with dangerous extremists, a hoped-for reunion with a girlfriend on the other side of the globe, and the search for exactly why he's the only man to survive."

  6. I'll second limadean's recommendation. Jacoby's The Age of American Unreason is an excellent look at the American anti-intellectual tradition and how we came to be in the mess we're in now.

    I read Irreligion a couple of months ago. It's a fun read, but personally I didn't get anything new out of it.

  7. I'd like to second JennY.'s suggestion of "Y: The Last Man." It's an absolutely brilliant series which touches on a lot of topics relevant to science and feminism. The books are pretty action-packed too so it makes for quick and entertaining reading.

  8. I read the same interview Josh linked to about The Caveman Mystique, and wanted to read the book ever since – so I'd definitely be interested in that one.

    I also like the children's book suggestion very much. I'm always on the look out for sciency/skeptic type of books and other media for my daughter.

  9. Has anyone checked out "I Don't Believe in Athiests" by Chris Hedges yet? He's reading at a local bookstore in a couple of weeks, and I'm planning to go. I wouldn't normally pay any attention to a book with such a stupid title, but his "American Fascists" was very good.

  10. "Quicksilver," by Stephenson, might be the funniest book I've ever read. It's just a hair on the crude side, but that's OK for skeptics, right? For some readable math, "God Created the Integers," edited by Hawking. For today's history lesson, check out "Exploration of the Amazon Valley" by William Herndon. It's an interesting view of South American life in the 1850's.

  11. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. You willnot regret it.

  12. Here's one I got in email from Hemant over at

    The Kite Runner.

    It's fiction, but it's an incredible story. One of the main characters in the atheist father who is braver and more courageous than all the other characters… he's also outspoken about how he doesn't believe in God.

    I'm a little more than halfway through it and I've loved it so far.

    Might be worth considering.

  13. I know you already read the Golden Compass, but if you haven't read the other books in the series I strongly suggest them.

  14. I'm working my way through two non-work -related books right now. The first is A Brief History of Time, which I'm finally getting around to.

    The other one is Mark Bowen's Censoring Science. It's not a dramatic story, and can drag in places, but does an excellent job of the sorts of informal mechanisms (as well as other bullshit) that Bush political appointees did to undermine science, particularly the climate change science of James Hansen. Not exciting, but important. (I could actually see myself using it in an organizational sociology class.)

  15. Agh, I have got to get my hands on the more Y: The Last Man. I've read the first two books and loved them.

    Caveman Mystique is definitely going on my reading list. I ran into so many kooky evo-psych ideas as an anthro student.

  16. If you are interested in some highly respected mumbo-jumbo, you might try Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.

  17. “Quicksilver,” by Stephenson, might be the funniest book I’ve ever read. It’s just a hair on the crude side, but that’s OK for skeptics, right?

    I thought Snow Crash was funnier, just on the basis of the first chapter's description of the Deliverator alone, but basically yes. For bonus fun, read Carl Zimmer's Soul Made Flesh alongside Quicksilver to see how the fictional versions of Wilkins, Hooke, Wren, et al. stack up with the real ones. ;)

    I'm not sure I'd qualify it as skepchick-lit, though. It does describe the early years of the Scientific Revolution, and Eliza's story does include a lot of anachronistic-but-still-cool feminist elements, but there's some kinda threshold it just doesn't cross in my mind. The Diamond Age is probably better as feminist fiction and includes some interesting technology-and-society conflict as well.

  18. The last few books I've read, that I would recommend: The Trouble with Islam Today, by Irshad Manji, a self-proclaimed feminist Muslim Canadian. Lipstick Jihad, by Azadeh Moaveni, a American of Iranian descent who returned to Iran to live and work relatives (2006). The book explores her conflicts on being viewed as an American by Iranians, as Iranian by Americans, her struggles to be a female newsmagazine journalist in a country where she could be arrested for wearing lipstick (hence the title), and how she dealt with the two parts of herself. I also just bought Bart Ehrman's newest book, God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question, which is so new Google Books didn't have the cover available for download. (apparently I've not figured out how to italicize yet…)

  19. "Tricks of the Mind" by Derren Brown. You can get it from Amazon UK. Very droll and a real eye-opener. Brown used to be a charismatic Christian, but now he understands how illusions work.

  20. I'm not sure where this book fits on the skepticism spectrum, but have any of you read Michael Shermer's "How We Believe"? I've been reading it and it's been thought-provoking ot say the least.

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