100 books like The Tangled Wing

By Melvin Konner,

Here are 100 books that The Tangled Wing fans have personally recommended if you like The Tangled Wing. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love 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.

By Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Intelligence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the inventor of the PalmPilot comes a new and compelling theory of intelligence, brain function, and the future of intelligent machines

Jeff Hawkins, the man who created the PalmPilot, Treo smart phone, and other handheld devices, has reshaped our relationship to computers. Now he stands ready to revolutionize both neuroscience and computing in one stroke, with a new understanding of intelligence itself.

Hawkins develops a powerful theory of how the human brain works, explaining why computers are not intelligent and how, based on this new theory, we can finally build intelligent machines.

The brain is not a computer, but…


Book cover of The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher

Lloyd Sederer Author Of Caught in the Crosshairs of American Healthcare

From my list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychiatrist and public health doctor, non-fiction writer, and lay and medical editor. For over 12 years, I have taught non-fiction writing for a general audience at Columbia medical and public health schools to physicians, neuroscientists, epidemiologists, psychologists, and other professionals. I have published 14 books and over 500 written articles and videos. I love to write and help others write...well.

Lloyd's book list on books to read if you want to write the best of non-fiction

Lloyd Sederer Why did Lloyd love this book?

I loved this book because it demonstrates we can write about any subject we have a passion for: bowling, the bassoon, the Canary Islands, UFOs, opium, truffles, cats and dogs, evil and good, or cells!

Thomas starts his book by marveling about cells. Vivid imagination, not labor, carries him to subjects like insects, music, language, computers, and medicine. After all, they are interconnected, like we are. 

Which means I need only start with one subject* that stirs my wonder or worry and holds meaning for me. I don’t need to hunt for something to write about, it is right in front of my eyes. 

*BTW, the author of my book choice #1, Bill Zinsser, covered war, theatre, baseball, music, nonfiction writing, and memoirs. Note to self: One subject will do.

By Lewis Thomas,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Lives of a Cell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Elegant, suggestive, and clarifying, Lewis Thomas's profoundly humane vision explores the world around us and examines the complex interdependence of all things.  Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science and into a vast and wondrous world of hidden relationships, this provocative book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects, and medicine.  Lewis Thomas writes, "Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good…


Book cover of The Whisperings Within

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love 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.

By David P. Barash,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Whisperings Within as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The whisperings within [Hardcover]


Book cover of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis

Howard Bloom Author Of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History

From my list on on changing the way you think.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been called the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the 21st century by Britain’s Channel 4 TV and the next Stephen Hawking by Gear Magazine. My passion is flying over all the sciences, all of history, and a chunk of the arts and pulling it all together in a new big picture. I’ve called this approach Omnology, the aspiration to omniscience. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve published scientific papers or lectured at scholarly conferences in twelve different scientific disciplines, from quantum physics and cosmology to evolutionary biology, psychology, information science, and astronautics. And I’ve been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, and many more.

Howard's book list on on changing the way you think

Howard Bloom Why did Howard love 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.

By Edward O. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sociobiology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

View a collection of videos on Professor Wilson entitled "On the Relation of Science and the Humanities"

Harvard University Press is proud to announce the re-release of the complete original version of Sociobiology: The New Synthesis--now available in paperback for the first time. When this classic work was first published in 1975, it created a new discipline and started a tumultuous round in the age-old nature versus nurture debate. Although voted by officers and fellows of the international Animal Behavior Society the most important book on animal behavior of all time, Sociobiology is probably more widely known as the object…


Book cover of Unmasking the Face: A Guide to Recognizing Emotions from Facial Expressions

Zachary Elwood Author Of Verbal Poker Tells

From my list on understanding human behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former professional poker player and the author of a trilogy of books on poker behavior (aka poker tells). I have a psychology podcast called People Who Read People. I also do some independent research and writing: my research into online deception has been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, and other places. I’ve been interested in psychology since I was a kid, probably due to my dad’s eclectic bookshelf that included a bunch of psychology and philosophy books.

Zachary's book list on understanding human behavior

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

Paul Ekman is a well known researcher of human behavior and facial expressions and indicators of lying. He’s written several books that many serious students of behavior have read, and this is a good one to start with. He delves into the meaning of various facial expressions, and also explains how research shows the universal, cross-cultural nature of our underlying emotions and how those show up in our faces.

By Paul Ekman, Wallace V. Friesen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unmasking the Face as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using scores of photographs of faces that reflect the emotions of surprise, fear, disgust, anger, happiness, and sadness, the authors of UNMASKING THE FACE explain how to identify correctly these basic emotions and how to tell when people try to mask, simulate, or neutralize them. In addition, it features several practical exercises that will help actors, teachers, salesmen, counselors, nurses, and physicians--and everyone else who deals with people--to become adept, perceptive readers of the facial expressions of emotion.


Book cover of Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions

Michael L. Littman Author Of Code to Joy: Why Everyone Should Learn a Little Programming

From my list on computing and why it’s important and interesting.

Why am I passionate about this?

Saying just the right words in just the right way can cause a box of electronics to behave however you want it to behave… that’s an idea that has captivated me ever since I first played around with a computer at Radio Shack back in 1979. I’m always on the lookout for compelling ways to convey the topic to people who are open-minded, but maybe turned off by things that are overly technical. I teach computer science and study artificial intelligence as a way of expanding what we can get computers to do on our behalf.

Michael's book list on computing and why it’s important and interesting

Michael L. Littman Why did Michael love this book?

I always find myself applying algorithmic thinking in my everyday life—it affects the way I put away dishes, navigate to the store, and organize my to-do lists. And I think others could benefit from that mindset.

So, when I read this book, my reaction was "Yes! That's what I want people to know. I just wish I could have said it that well!" The authors (who I know, but didn't know they wrote a book together), did a fantastic job of selecting algorithms with deep human connections. Really! And they explain them just right, without getting too mathematical but while still hitting the key ideas with clarity and accuracy. Fantastic!

By Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Algorithms to Live By as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives.

In this dazzlingly interdisciplinary work, acclaimed author Brian Christian and cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths show us how the simple, precise algorithms used by computers can also untangle very human questions. Modern life is constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? The authors explain how to have better hunches and when to leave things to chance, how to deal…


Book cover of Explaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us About Life, Love and Relationships

Ed Thompson Author Of A Hidden Force: Unlocking the Potential of Neurodiversity at Work

From my list on challenging perceptions of neurodiversity.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a young businessperson in London in my early 30s, I was as ignorant of neurodiversity as much of the rest of the world. In the mid-2010s, I got fascinated by the topic thanks to conversations with autistic family members, who encouraged me to bring some of my expertise in corporate diversity programs to the field of “neurodiversity at work”. The topic of neurodiversity chimed with me, too, as I’d suffered a traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident, and there were aspects I could relate to. I founded neurodiversity training company Uptimize to help ensure organizations across the world understand how the importance of embracing and leveraging different types of thinkers.

Ed's book list on challenging perceptions of neurodiversity

Ed Thompson Why did Ed love this book?

Explaining Humans engagingly begins, “It was five years into my life on Earth that I started to think I’d landed in the wrong place. I must have missed the stop.”

Part popular science, part memoir, part clarion call for neuroinclusion, Pang’s book is full of sophisticated and memorable observations about humans, neurodiversity, and Pang’s own neurodivergence.

I particularly enjoyed her comparison of the teamwork between human cells (neutral, effective, politics-free!) with that of typical human collaboration…and how much it made me realize that we can all substantially improve the latter at work to get the best out of each other and fulfill our collective potential.

By Camilla Pang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Explaining Humans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INSIGHT INVESTMENT SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2020

How proteins, machine learning and molecular chemistry can teach us about the complexities of human behaviour and the world around us

How do we understand the people around us? How do we recognise people's motivations, their behaviour, or even their facial expressions? And, when do we learn the social cues that dictate human behaviour?

Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her and the way people worked. Desperate for a solution, Camilla asked her mother if there was…


Book cover of The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win

Jonathan Grotenstein Author Of Ship It Holla Ballas! How a Bunch of 19-Year-Old College Dropouts Used the Internet to Become Poker's Loudest, Craziest, and Richest Crew

From my list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the kid of tournament bridge and Scrabble players, I’ve been hooked on games my whole life. None more so than poker, which has helped me make a living both at the tables and as a writer. I’m currently working on a TV adaptation of Ship It Holla Ballas!  

Jonathan's book list on high-stakes poker for people who hate math

Jonathan Grotenstein Why did Jonathan love this book?

Yet another magazine writer (this time, The New Yorker) using her advance money to take a shot at poker’s biggest tournament. But Konnikova’s enthusiastic and self-critical approach elevates her memoir into something more transcendent and celebratory than its predecessors. This is a love letter to poker, told with fierce intelligence and emotional honesty. If you want a deeper understanding of the game’s gravitational pull on a certain kind of mind, there’s no better guide.

By Maria Konnikova,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Biggest Bluff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times bestseller * A New York Times Notable Book

"The tale of how Konnikova followed a story about poker players and wound up becoming a story herself will have you riveted, first as you learn about her big winnings, and then as she conveys the lessons she learned both about human nature and herself." -The Washington Post

It's true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn't even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him…


Book cover of By Light We Knew Our Names: Stories

Jacqueline Vogtman Author Of Girl Country: and Other Stories

From my list on magical realism by women writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who loves all kinds of fiction, but I’m most passionate about magical realism and related genres (like fabulism and speculative fiction). I love when writers skirt several genres, especially when their use of the “strange” holds a funhouse mirror up to our world and allows us to see a deeper truth. My favorite writers craft prose that rivals poetry and delve into their characters’ interior worlds; for me, one of fiction’s greatest magic tricks is the ability to enter another’s world and create empathy. The five authors on this list do all of these things and more, and they serve as some of my greatest inspirations.  

Jacqueline's book list on magical realism by women writers

Jacqueline Vogtman Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Full disclosure: Anne is a dear friend and was an MFA workshop-mate of mine.

But even if she wasn’t, I’m confident this would still be one of my favorite collections. There is so much magic in Valente’s writing, in the gorgeous prose but also in the content of the stories: ghosts, pink dolphins, tiny librarians, Northern Lights.

Much of the magic is not supernatural, but just the magic of the natural world, and Valente is a master of place; I’ve always admired her use of setting. Many of the stories deal with loss, grief, and pain, but the magic acts as a way to transcend these things, which is what I aim to do in my stories as well.

By Anne Valente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked By Light We Knew Our Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From ghosts to pink dolphins to a fight club of young women who practice beneath the Alaskan aurora borealis, By Light We Knew Our Names examines the beauty and heartbreak of the world we live in. Across 13 stories, this collection explores the thin border between magic and grief.


Book cover of The Humanity of Thucydides

Neville Morley Author Of Thucydides and the Idea of History

From my list on understanding Thucydides.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian and classicist, teaching at the University of Exeter. I am equally interested in classical Greece and Rome, especially their economy and society, and in the ways that classical ideas and examples have been influential in the modern world.

Neville's book list on understanding Thucydides

Neville Morley Why did Neville love this book?

There is an equally strong tradition of reading Thucydides not as a historian, just interested in past events as an end in itself, but as a kind of political theorist who wanted to his work to be useful, as a guide to ‘the human thing’. Sometimes this produces incredibly crude readings of his work, such as the idea that Thucydides was a Realist who preached the power of the strong over the weak (actually those are ideas associated with people in his book), but there have been many powerful interpretations by political theorists who have deep knowledge of the text and relevant scholarship, and who can use this to explore contemporary issues of power, justice, and human motivation. I find Orwin’s account rich and thought-provoking, clearly the product of vast experience and deliberation.

By Clifford Orwin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Humanity of Thucydides as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thucydides has long been celebrated for the unflinching realism of his presentation of political life. And yet, as some scholars have asserted, his work also displays a profound humanity. In the first thorough exploration of the relation between these two traits, Clifford Orwin argues that Thucydides' humanity is not a reflection of the author's temperament but an aspect of his thought, above all of his articulation of the central problem of political life, the tension between right and compulsion. This book provides the most complete treatment to date of Thucydides' handling of the problem of injustice, as well as the…


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