The best books to change the way you think

The Books I Picked & Why

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

By Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee

On Intelligence: How a New Understanding of the Brain Will Lead to the Creation of Truly Intelligent Machines

Why this book?

The brain is a confusing mess, with all the Latin names of its parts and the machine-gun scatter of research. Jeff Hawkins helps you see what the brain does in a whole new way. A big-picture way. A way in which it all makes sense. Profound and science-changing sense.


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Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

By Lewis Thomas

Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Why this book?

Another big picture mind-blazer. Thomas shows you how everything from a single cell and the social life of ants to human culture and a planet filled with life works. And he shows you this in breathtaking ways.  Ways that will forever change the way you see.


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The Whisperings Within

By David P. Barash

The Whisperings Within

Why this book?

In an easy, breezy style, Barash introduces you to sociobiology, the most mind-blowing perceptual lens since Charles Darwin’s 1857 introduction of evolution. Like Hawkins and Thomas, Barash reveals everything from the operation of genes to the culture of the Inuit in the impossible wastes of the arctic.  And he shows you, once again, how the findings of widely separated sciences fit into a spectacular big picture.


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Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

By Edward O. Wilson

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

Why this book?

This is the book with which Wilson introduced sociobiology in 1975. It is encyclopedic and sometimes academic. But the big picture Wilson presents and the stories he turns to pixels in that panorama are astonishing. Wilson helps you see the connections between the social bonds that join you with the people you love and the way all of life works. And it’s not the tired old view of animals and humans in isolation.


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The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

By Melvin Konner

The Tangled Wing: Biological Constraints on the Human Spirit

Why this book?

Melvin Konner is an anthropologist who joined the sociobiology revolution of the 1970s.  Like Barash, his style is sheer pleasure. He ranges from biology and psychology to research on hormones.  And his tales, his evidence, are fascinating beyond belief. They are derived from research on primitive tribes like the !Kung San In southern Africa, whose way of life sheds new light on the things you and I do every day.


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