David Levine

Research Scientist, University of Tennessee


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What book have you read that everyone should read and why?

Many books have a profound effect on us and stay with us for the rest of our lives. Help us all to discover this new gem that we may not have found!

For example "The Giving Tree" for its lessons on unconditional love and selflessness

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    Jan 10 2014: Doc I am a old guy and read a lot about everything. Not long ago a TED member, Pat Gilbert, hosted a conversation on Lincoln. He posed some questions and the conversation grew rather large and people did not want to see Lincoln in any light other than what Mrs Mary Jane elementary school taught them. Books reflect the thought and biases of the writer. Because of the conversation I dug into Lincoln and his papers, life, law practices, financial dealings, and much about the civil war.

    Although it completely changed the way I see Lincoln .. I found that my research into the subject was more satisfying than any book published on him.

    It also taught me that when faced with the facts most people will defend the version of what they believe.

    I like writers like Dan Brown. You do not have to believe the story line of the di Vinci Code but go along for the ride through the world of art, mathematics, and history. I challenge him often and found that he did his home work on the facts.

    So here is my point ... took me a while to get there .... read and enjoy anything and everything but remember it is the author driving the train ... when your done look up the points of interest ... by keeping a open and active mind you will open up a whole new world of adventure, art and travel.

    We should do our own research in all things ... religion, politics, finance, etc ... otherwise your just another sheep in the pasture.

    Thanks for letting me share with you. Bob.
    • Jan 10 2014: Bob,

      Books are just arrangements of stuff readers use to create/recreate thoughts, to actually get the writer's thoughts and biases from the book one has to decode the material just as the writer would. Most cases the reader just thinks they decode the material just as the writer would, though often the reading involves 'distortions' the reader introduces without being aware of it. I agree with the claim that "when faced with the facts most people will defend the version of what they believe". I also concur "read and enjoy anything and everything" just remember that the reader is driving the vehicle and some can take it off road especially when they got the gift of dyslexia :-) Indeed "keeping a open and active mind you will open up a whole new world of adventure, art and travel". I like to say that I laugh at jokes three times... 1- the one I got 2- when I get the intended joke 3- at the correspondence (or lack of it) of 1 and 2 . finally we certainly ought do our own research without falling for the common errors, and fallacies
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      Jan 10 2014: Robert,

      One of the best posts I've read in a long time. Beautifully said.
  • Jan 15 2014: The Bible. I find it to be like a plumb line that even when I think it could be wrong, it actually ends up correcting me.
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    Jan 14 2014: A book I recommend sometimes to specific persons is "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson.
    Besides the interesting facts about the past and the evolution of science, there is a lot of "lessons learned" material. If you're willing to read between the lines. To think about how and why progress was made, or on the other hand delayed.
    All with the purpose to avoid the same kind of pitfalls in our digital age.
    • Jan 14 2014: I havn't read that one yet. He's a great writer. I was thinking about "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" For me it shows how corporations have taken over the roles of servants in older times. They have made a fortune in doing so. Bryson's writing style is so relaxed and the book is full of information about "the home". It's a great read.
  • Jan 14 2014: Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell. It completely changed the way I view the world.
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      Jan 14 2014: I will add this to my list! I enjoyed Outliers by Gladwell.
      • Jan 14 2014: David,

        For some reason I never got around to reading the tipping point. I do have it I just have not dedicated the time to reading it. I would recommend Gladwell's
        Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
        and from worth of mouth the last one he wrote:
        David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
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          Jan 15 2014: Thanks, another to add to the list! Gladwell is perfect for my walks (for some reason I like his work on audiobooks). I find my self replaying many chapters but that just makes we walk a bit more!
        • Feb 6 2014: You should. It gives new insight in right time for right things to do.
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    Jan 10 2014: I am hoping that each person who reads this whole post finds just 1 or 2 books that become magic for them. The thought of that just makes me smile.
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    Jan 18 2014: All the books of DOSTOEVSKI ...
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    Jan 14 2014: Great question. I can't just choose one but I will try and limit myself to five.

    1. Pride and Prejudice. It's just a beautifully written classic.Simple as that.
    2. Winnie the Pooh. A delight as a child, and an important reminder of childhood as an adult. I still can't read the last chapter without crying.
    3. Siddhartha. A book to come back to at different times in your life to remind yourself that you are on a journey.
    4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Incredibly well written and brilliantly insightful with respect to autism.
    5. The BFG. My favourite of his books and let's face it, nobody should grow up without the words of Roald Dahl and illustrations of Quentin Blake in their life!

    Yep, that was as hard as I expected it to be. My brain is still being flooded with "oh but what about...". Interestingly, it's the books I read as a child that are coming to me the most.
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    Jan 12 2014: THANK YOU for this lovely post and question. I started a blog years ago, readthat.blogspot.com, with the intention of keeping track of significant books that I'd read, but it was a very solitary endeavour. What I was really after was what has happened in response to your post: people volunteering their *best* reads.
    My book suggestion: Bhagavad Gita As It Is.
    I should point out that there are many more or less secular scholars who have voiced their appreciation for the Gita over the years, so it is a philosophical as well as religious classic.
    But my main reason for suggesting this one book - and I have read thousands, both secular and religious - is that it is a very human discussion about duty, identity, and happiness, all things that occupy most of us most of the time. And it deals with these topics in unexpected and delightful ways.
    For those who are dead set against reading the Gita, my alternative suggestion is The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. It is about the life of a scholar who lives about three thousand years in the future. It is marvelous and magical and funny.
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      Jan 12 2014: That post makes you braver than me.
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      Jan 13 2014: The Glass Bead Game, also called Magister Ludi is one of my favorites as well. Do I remember correctly that that masterpiece was the impetus for Hesse's being awarded the Nobel? One fundamental idea the book tackles is the interaction, or lack of interaction, between scholarship and "real life" and the challenges and potential of their interface.
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        Jan 15 2014: Yes! That book, along with his corpus of other published work, won him the Nobel Prize for literature.
        Have you read "Narcissus and Goldmund" ? It's my brother's favorite book, also by Hesse.

  • Jan 12 2014: I wish I could read these books when I was growing up.

    - "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jarrod Diamond - gives basic introduction of no less five topics with which kids are generally bored to near death (politics, sociology, linguistics, philosophy, technology); the reference/notes section alone will supply enough material to chew on for years to come.
    - "The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West" by Niall Ferguson - how secret behind the curtain politics lead to WWI and how WWII became unavoidable. Serious reading and will shine a different light on the Henry Kissinger's ideas laid out in his "Diplomacy". Also, how Europe managed to pretty much decimate itself socially and what came out of it. Not to mention the analysis paragraph alone that should be required reading in schools (theory of "us" and "them" and why it is okay to kill "them").
    - "The Black Swan" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Good review of fragility versus robustness and how big biz tend to make themselves fragile and whine about it when hit hard by problems. Also, read how economists in general did not see the 2008 problem until it happened regardless. And see for yourself that politicians in general have no idea about a lot of things happening largely beyond their control.
    - "The Ascent of Money" by Niall Freguson, another good book dealing with money and why it became so darn important that entire countries can suffer through no fault of their own. Good brief history of stock/commodity markets, bonds, derivatives and why these matter and in which way. Sadly, leaves out topics covered by Nassim Taleb, but the two should probably read together anyhow.
    - "The Brain that changes itself" by Norman Doidge and why genetics, while important, is only half the story. Also, "Survival of the Sickest:The Surprising Connections Between Disease and Longevity" by Sharon Moalem and Jonathan Prince just to see how little we still know about genetics, too.
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    Jan 11 2014: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. How to be spiritual without being religious! A book - a practice - for the 21st century.
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      Jan 11 2014: Hmmm.. Interesting....and a subject oft ignored by most secular authors with the exception of perhaps Harris and maybe Dennett
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        Jan 14 2014: Excellent point on both … Sam Harris is a contemplative who practices meditation, and Daniel Dennett enjoys singing liturgical music in choirs … perhaps their bark is worse than their bite?
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          Jan 14 2014: Not too sure dogs come into it? More seriously though I would posit that the trait 'spiritual' in the sense of a property that revered and sought awe is a real objective trait that Harris and Dennett have a lot of and seemingly Hitchens and Dawkins either do not, or are embarressed by their potential to exibit.
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    Jan 10 2014: Great topic. Should be fascinating finding out which books make tedsters tick.

    My Recommendation: 1984 - by George Orwell.

    My Reason: Maintained its impact on me (in varying magnitude) over a decade... and that's no mean feat! When an author's surname defines a genre of political and social dystopia, you know there's substance to an 'Orwellian' classic. 'Thought Police', 'Double Talk(Speak), 'Big Brother' (is watching you), Room 101,... I could go on... all those words and concepts introduced to the world in the thin guise of 'fiction'. Animal Farm astounded with its simplicity and brevity in allowing us to see the true nature of revolution, but 1984 had me reeling from the profundity of its foresight and insight. And 'Winston Smith' presents us with the ultimate dilemma.
  • Jan 13 2014: "Lean In"

    by Sheryl Sandberg

    Because, even while I am still in the process of reading, it has already changed how I look at my most fundamental behavioral patterns. If I had read these explanations earlier in my life, I probably would have made some decisions differently - not only in regard to work.

    This book really get's to the roots of the problems regarding women and equality without blaming either gender for a situation that is far more complex than the current discussion makes it seem.

    Respect to Sheryl for having the guts to speak out on such an emotional topic that still seems to be a miss-perceived minefield!

    In my opinion, it is a mandatory read for BOTH genders, because understanding these issues could empower our society in many ways.

    Thanks David for the simple, yet great question for the TED community - got inspired for new reading material by the comments :)
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    Jan 10 2014: Couple of books!
    If you are really into books -specially philosophy- "Leviathan" is amazing, it defines everything that you need a definition for in the way you think, and if you want to get attracted to philosophy "101 Philosophy problems" can really blow you mind (for heaven sake don't start philosophy with "Sophie's World"), and if you want a book to finish very soon, "The Art of War" won't disappoint you.
    In non-philosophical books, "1984" and Shakespeare's plays are awesome.
    When I was younger, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" really worthed to be read.
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      Jan 10 2014: I agree with your 'Sophie's World' comment. It's where I started ... and stopped. Although, to be fair, I know some have found it mind-blowing. '101 Philosophy Problems' sounds fun, though, so I'm off to the library! Thanks, Amirpouya (and David)
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        Jan 11 2014: Fortunately 101 was what I started with.
        Actually I borrowed that 10 times from my high school's library and finaly bought that about two months ago.
        There are good books like that, like "Reason and Religious Belief", which has articles from both different ideas in each subject, or "50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know" is even better, which I've just started to read.
        Unfortunately ther are a huge number of books in philosophy just saying how ancient philosophers thought, like Sophie's World etc., killing new ideas and passion.
        It's interesting, one of the greatest and almost the first of philosophers, Socrates, never wrote a book or article, because he believed philosophy is not a thing to be taught from a book, it must to be argued on from both sides, the teacher and the student !
        You find a good book, you go to reading once more. Promised !
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    Jan 27 2014: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is my all time fav, I reckon everyone who hasn't read the book should read it
    it's Awesome......
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      Jan 27 2014: This one is on my ipad - I bought it a year ago and never got to it. Thanks for the reminder! I have a 4 hour flight next week - perfect.
      • Jan 27 2014: I thought the title of this book interesting, so read a review. Pretty good review, but it seems the book it's a review of isn't! Wasting four hours on a flight is one thing. Wasting four hours of your life is something else. You might want to have a back-up book, just in case. ;01
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        Feb 9 2014: ya simply can't go wrong with this book :)
    • Feb 8 2014: You can't be disappointed by this book it's wonderful since the front page to the last! You travel with the main character around the world and it takes you wonder about the life.
  • Jan 24 2014: Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. In a world where the richest 1% of the population controls roughly 40% of the world's wealth, it seems like achieving wealth for wealth's sake is the goal itself, not for what you can do with the money. While there are exceptions, they are few enough that they continue to make the news. Through a very different format and unique "teacher," Ishmael introduced me to the concept of "takers" vs. "leavers" in a way I had never thought about, but which has even broader implications for today's inequities. It made me think about my actions and relationships and ask myself: how do I want to net-out when I leave this world?
  • Jan 20 2014: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

    Firstly this book is an example of what a significant role the imagination or day dreaming can play in transforming your immediate surroundings. This book also gives you a fascinating insight into a Brooklyn of the past and a candid but emotional window on the characters lives and feelings.
  • Jan 20 2014: "We Die Alone" is my choice. This book tells the story about the Norwegian resistance fighter Jan Baalsrud that during World War II conducted an incredible escape from German soldiers. He evaded capture for roughly two months, suffering from frostbite and snow blindness. During this periode he amputated nine of his toes to stop the spread of gangrene.

    The original Norwegian title is "nine lives" and this book shows how important it is to never give up.
    It also shows just how far humans can push themselves
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    Jan 19 2014: wow !!!! Thank You David Levine, for your question. i just realised that if we can read all the books prescribed by every participant in this forum, i think we can make a better world.
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    Jan 19 2014: I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m pretty sure if I had I’d still be saying ‘The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil’ by Philip Zimbardo. I started reading it after watching his Psychology of Evil talk. We’re capable of some pretty terrible actions and inaction. Most of us tend to think, ‘In situation XYZ, I’d be the good guy, the one who doesn’t conform, who doesn’t electrocute the learner, who steps in and helps’ etc. Most of us are wrong. But, if we are aware of our fallibility, the ways in which we can fall, and the factors that can lead us to fall, surely we’ll become less susceptible to falling. And if we’re aware of the conditions that can lead others to fall, then we can make sure we don’t put those conditions in place.

    Also, the Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler. Even the act of reading a little each night during a hectic, stressful period of life made me feel more tranquil and better able to cope. Research I’ve read on self-control makes me suspect it would have the same effect for anyone with qualities like compassion among their core values.

    And the Bible, too, because of its cultural influence. It’s also got some nice gems of wisdom.
  • Jan 18 2014: No question in my mind at all, in terms of a non-fiction book: "The Wholeness of Nature" by Henri Bortoft. This book is an essential read, especially for practising scientists. I believe every scientific education must include a course on the philosophy of science which exposes the source of many scientific attitudes. Such a course would be an eye opener as is this book.
  • Jan 18 2014: At this point, If I could only choose one book ,and if we're looking at fiction it would be Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End. I read it about two years ago and it was stimulating-- there are so many non-plot levels to the story that keep you engaged. It's very well written! It lingered with me for weeks after I finished reading.
  • Jan 18 2014: The book which open my eyes about world around me is The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
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    Jan 15 2014: I see that it's been mentioned a few times but I'm going to say it for a different reason than the other's gave.

    The bible, read the whole of it (preferably NKJ, NIV or RSV). Read all of it without spiritual guidance by any clergy or family member. Read it as it is and make up your mind about what it says, DON'T listen to clergy! Don't skip the first half and don't ever think that there was a time that murder, rape and genocide were more or less morally okay.

    Now you read that book and you come back to me and say that the book is divine, meaning that everything in it is right and good. You read that and then tell me that you believe in the God that is portrayed in that book, and tell me that that God needs our worship.

    Penn Jillette has a good Big Think video about this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3rGev6OZ3w
    • Jan 15 2014: Jimmy,

      When one read a book one needs to know how to interpret the words and get to the intended message... especially when the language used just isn't one's own...
      The book is divine for those who know how to interpret it, it isn't for those who don't know how to read it!
      As was sort of implied in your post 'without spiritual guidance' individuals just wouldn't get the right message nor be able to truly know the Got that is portrayed though the book. KNOW that God doesn't need our worship nor needs us; it is we who need God and who need to be a certain way.
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    Jan 14 2014: Lots of good suggestions here.

    I found Stephen Pinker's "The Blank Slate" fascinating and informative on the 'nature vs nurture' debate.
  • Jan 14 2014: Excellent question David!

    I would highly recommend two books:

    So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport - This book shows that following your passion is just bad advice and is not practical. He offers other ways and introduces many others who are very happy with their work and their contribution to the world

    The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster - This is a children's book although anyone can read it. It was one of my favorite books growing up and really made me question and ponder upon the everyday things in life.
  • Red Fox

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    Jan 14 2014: For those who wonder why true researchers are a thing of the past and present day researchers are bound by an agenda set before them by those who fund such research "The Body Electric" by Dr Robert O Becker, twice Nobel nominated makes a riveting read for whomever is interested in the betterment of mankind at large. Stem cell research, tissue and bone regeneration and the possibility of enabling the disabled to walk again is an exciting concept, and seemingly may not be beyond the realm of possibility should his research ever be rekindled. His funding was withdrawn because he went against advice to not publish his findings and published anyway, hence incurring the wrath of the establishment resulting in his funding being withdrawn sending him into early retirement. As happens with most true researchers of the past, he is now banished into the mists of time and forgotten.
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      Jan 14 2014: Interesting book- I read it maybe 20 or more years ago and have it on my bookshelf at work. I believe he did get a bit controversial advocating against power lines. I believe (and again I may be remembering wrong) that he tried electrical currents for cancer as well.
    • Jan 19 2014: It seems to be an idea that is gaining currency, the idea that research is only funded if it produces the outcome that is wanted by the funding body.
      It is true that quite a number of trials of pharmaceuticals, funded by the manufacturer, are not published if the drug does not come out looking good.
      However, the much promoted idea that climate science is only funded if it supports the link between CO2 levels and rising temperatures is one that really needs to be challenged.
      If anyone can produce evidence for this, please do so. What climate scientists are being accused of would a conspiracy of scientific fraud, and on a global scale. Let the accusers show evidence, and not simply make un-supported accusations, please, for the sake of truth.
      • Jan 21 2014: Being new to TED you'll have to forgive me for not knowing exactly how it works, but…

        David…Bjorn Nordenstrom inserted two wires directly into breast cancers in women and by passing an electrical current through those wires was able to destroy the cancer. Another name which will fade into obscurity due to lack of information. We all have electricity in our bodies and electro medicine is a fascinating area of research, not that I know too much about it, but it does prompt considerable thought.

        Elisabeth…All research and published findings can be tainted or biased by selection. Figures and statistics can be manipulated and distorted to suit vested interests and promote the masses to consider such findings based solely on that which is presented to us in the material published. For lay persons such as myself it is our job to read between the lines of published material and question.
        • Jan 21 2014: Thanks for your reply Red Fox. I am also new to TED. I do have a science background, as a Medical Practitioner. I am therefore trained to look at research, and to evaluate it.
          The norm in medical research is for independent researchers to try to replicate the results of earlier research to assess its validity. The results of a single researcher do not mean anything if other researchers, from other centres throughout the world do not get the same outcome.
          I cannot comment on the research of Bjorn Nordenstrom. A Wikipedia search says that much of it was never published [making it difficult to evaluate or to replicate].
          The phrase in your comment that I took exception to was the statement, "true researchers are a thing of the past. . ."
          Nobel prizes are still given for research that adds to human knowledge.
          There have been gigantic leaps of understanding in all areas of scientific research in the last 20 years, and we need to understand and celebrate them.
          It's never to late too learn more science, and about how the world of science works. The project of science is not to have a monopoly on truth, but to seek it always, and throw out old ideas as our theories are better able to predict, and are in accord with, measurable outcomes.
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    Jan 13 2014: Hidden Music by Rumi - naively beautiful
    The Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen - gut wrenching and honest
    The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway - really well written and simple with a great story
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    Jan 13 2014: Every introvert out there should read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can't stop talking. It's a must read. It honestly brings out the best in introverts. I felt a lot better about myself after reading it.
  • Jan 13 2014: Such a great question David. Thank you!

    If you have a child or care about children and the future of the human race, you MUST read "The Continuum Concept" by Jean Liedloff.

    And if your mind tells you that you already 'get' it or know what she's talking about, ignore that until you've read at least 70 pages.
  • Jan 13 2014: I suggest two books for understanding how the world works: people who haven't read them waste a lot of time discussing reality as it is not!
    1 Thinking, Fast and Slow, by the Nobel-prizewinning Daniel Kahneman [2011]
    2 The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein. Political essentials in one book. My only reservation for this is that if you have not read widely enough beforehand, it may be too big a jump from your current position for you to take. It would be a good idea to go first to YouTube and watch "What I've Learned About US Foreign Policy_ The War Against the Third World"; and a couple of things by John Perkins.
    For simple practical advice - almost anything about Permaculture.
    • Jan 13 2014: Jonathan,

      Just like depth of view stems from two separate plain views, I consider that Thinking Fast and Slow requires the emergence of a third integrative deeper thinking way. In a way the title has the three parts though most think in dualistic two ways and miss the deeper way of thinking ... singular way of thinking that integrates them all...
      • Jan 14 2014: Interesting viewpoint, Esteban. I don't have it in front of me, but I believe the author hints at this sort of synergy, when he discusses how to react when you detect a situation when one's thinking is likely to be flawed or biased: not to try and eliminate that flawed thinking, but rather to be aware, and react appropriately.
        • Jan 14 2014: Hi Jonathan,nice consciousness.
        • Jan 14 2014: Jonathan,

          Asking a dyslexic to try to eliminate that 'affliction' rather than helping them to instill advantageous 'coping' schemata for 'the gift' is akin to seeking to eliminate that flawed thinking rather than dealing with it effectively. For example I learned that to deal with dyslexia to ALWAYS take several approaches and corroborate congruence . In other words ALWAYS check 'answer' using alternate procedures ensuring consistency. I highlight 'answer' because we could be talking about 'perceptions' 'models' 'reality' 'biases' 'experiments' 'thoughts'. I could had said: ALWAYS check 'model/perception/experiment/thinking' using alternate procedures ensuring consistency. Do note that - The issue with reacting when one detects a situation when one's thinking is likely to be flawed or biased- could be simplified and generalized by: 'ALWAYS'! That is, ALWAYS be aware one's thinking is likely to be flawed or biased and SEEK appropriate 'coping' schemata for that 'gift' to minimize/constrain negative side effects while capitalizing on positive side effects.

          Daniel Kahneman seems to me to mostly focus on exposing two ways of thinking (fast and slow) sort of using one eye and the other eye without delving deeper into what I termed 'timeless thinking' (thinking that extends throughout time past-present-future and even further ... what happens outside of time). For example, presently sustainability seems to be something that businesses/society have begun to realize is vital to enduring operations. Its about 1- the means (short sighted gains - fast thinking - surviving the moment) 2- the ends (long term profits - slow gains- living more moments ) 3- 'Persisting' ( dealing enriching meaningful existences that can be and would likely be replicated and expanded).

          'Switch - How to change things when change is hard' by Chip and Dan Heath, is a book that delves into focusing on what one seeks by recognizing what be while cultivating what one seeks.
  • Jan 12 2014: There are many books that have opened me up to new ideas and emotions, but the one that I would really love everyone to read, and that expanded my ideas about the span of human history, and where we sit within it, is "The Future Eaters", by Tim Flannery. He is a biologist, ecologist with enormous scope of learning, and a good natured humanity.
    Please don't let the title put you off - or the fact that this book is about the geology, biology and human ecology of Australia, New Zealand and New Guinea: it's really about how people have adapted to three very different environments, and what not adapting might mean for us all.
    I feel I'm having to do a hard sell, because no one wants to read a book that will leave them feeling depressed about the future. But this one is so utterly fascinating in its detail, I found myself just swept along by the enthralling narrative. It takes us from the time before Australia was a separate continent, and was part of Gondwanaland - lovely word.
    There are accounts from early explorers with descriptions of the sounds of bird song coming over the ocean from New Zealand (which was then a paradise of birds, with no animals other than the recently arrived human ones), the laughter of the Aboriginal people, as they watched early explorers of Australia stumbling and falling, as the original inhabitants nimbly scampered over the rocks.
    For the first time, I have come to understand how the Aboriginals keeping sacred places for animals in Australia, and the culture of sharing everything with one another, even neighbouring tribes in times of famine, saved both the animals and the humans from extinction.
    It is a wonderfully told human story that gave me that marvellous feeling enrichment that expanding understanding and appreciation of our amazing natural world and people can bring.
    If there is a warning, it is one you will be able to hear, because the beauty and wonder of our planet is worth any short term sacrifice.
  • Jan 12 2014: Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I'm going to go there: the Bible. It's the most important book I've ever read and even from a worldly perspective it's pretty significant and profound. My favorite books of the Bible: Samuel (both parts) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Matthew.

    For fiction: The Tin Drum by Günter Grass and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I recommend both for the way they unearth the beauty within the ugliness of human nature and the way they embrace the bizarre.

    Non-fiction: Life: the Movie by Neal Gabler. It discusses the way people measure real life events by the way life is presented fictionally in movies (for instance, wanting a real-life relationship to resemble a romantic comedy). I'm not a big fan of movies but it has an interesting perspective on the development of American culture.
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      Jan 12 2014: I am surprised the Bible hadn't been mentioned yet. I have read many versions of it including some novelized versions. Maybe we overlooked the obvious?
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        Jan 12 2014: I think most people are sensitive to the religious views of other including non-theist views hence the caution.
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          Jan 12 2014: I like that thought! Just maybe the TED community is avoiding the trap of debating religion (it is kind of a TED principle) and being potentially inflammatory.
  • Jan 11 2014: Animal Farm by George Orwell, which is a book about animals trying to be socialist, but turns into dictatorship and communism. It's a powerful warning about merely believing without any other thought.
  • Jan 10 2014: For money management: "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George Clason
    Spiritual way of life: "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda
    Physical Healing: "The Sivananda Companion to Yoga" by Swami Vishnu Devananda
  • Jan 10 2014: If there are any kids in your life I would have them read "The Lost Choice" by Andy Andrews. It has a great message about, you guessed it, the power of choice. The effects we can have on others and our ability to change the world. Very inspiring stuff.

    If you are a U.S. citizen I recommend Howard Zinn's "Peoples History of the United States". I think they should be reading it in every high school. It gives a very different picture of our history than I remember learning in high school. It can be a little depressing, we have a bloody history, but it also motivated me with the fact that there have always been those willing to stand up and do the rightthing.

    Lastly, if any of you out there have ever suffered with depression, I recommend "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor E. Frankl. It gives an account if his imprisonment at Auschwitz and how he came to survive it. A great book that can help give perspective to our lives and may help you keep your head above the water.
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    Jan 10 2014: Conversations with God, for its alternate perspective on religion life and morality.
  • Feb 4 2014: My favourites are:
    1. Difficulty of being good by Gurcharan Das
    2. Autobiography of a Yogi
    3. The Power of Unreasonable People by John Elkington and Pamela Hartigan
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    Feb 3 2014: Too many to count that have had a profound impact, but here are some:
    "Civilization and its Discontents" by Sigmund Freud. It helps me find the deep meanings behind my ego, aggression, certain things that I try to keep repressed.
    Already mentioned numerous times: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. Has helped me through many dark periods in my life.
    CS Lewis Signature Classics. Religious or not these are fantastic books for anyone. I particularly like "The Screwtape Letters" and for anyone experiencing a great loss " A Grief Observed".
    "Walden and Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau. Helps me to feel in touch with nature and to remember sometimes the best things in life are free. A good reminder of how fashion trends, materialism, etc. come and go. One of my favorite books to draw quotes from.
    Finally, "Status Anxiety" by our own TEDster Alain de Botton. After numerous setbacks from jobs, schooling, etc. it has been a good reminder that I'm at where I'm at and success is defined by each individual not what society portrays.
  • Feb 2 2014: How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie surely. the title says it all and its brilliant. After every chapter you'll think "Why didnt I think of that earlier?"
  • Feb 2 2014: BE HERE NOW by Ram Das

    WALDEN,or. LIFE IN THE WOODS. by Henry David Thoreau
  • Feb 1 2014: "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl
  • Jan 31 2014: Here's for Mark Twain, brilliant, flawed, heart-breaking and hilarious. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be read at intervals throughout one's life. A new layer unfolds each time. For opening the mind, or blowing it, try Twain's novella The Mysterious Stranger. For a Bible-Belted 12-year-old, it was more than unsupervised education; it permanently swept cobwebs from my head. I walked into walls for weeks.
    For the sheer beauty of words and phrases polished until they shine, Truman Capote's A Thanksgiving Memory is, for my money, astonishing.
    Thanks to those of you who are careful with your grammar!
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    Jan 31 2014: If a virtual TED book club could come from this list, what are ides on how to do it? Assign pages and then discuss those for 1 week?
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      Jan 31 2014: TED itself tried to launch such a program using TED books. The staff posted an alert that at a certain date and time there would be an open conversation with the author on TED Conversations for perhaps a couple of hours.

      I do not know what sort of conclusion the staff drew from that experiment, but it may have been that too few people engaged to make it a program worth advancing. Or perhaps they just haven't gotten around to another book-focused thread.

      In any case, that experience does not necessarily suggest a book club wouldn't work based on a book a group of people chose to read together. I would have thought that the it works better not to assign pages but rather to set a target date, as most book clubs do, for when everyone should have finished the book and be ready to discuss it.
  • Jan 28 2014: Unthinking by Harry Beckwith
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    Jan 28 2014: An essay by George Orwell on Politics and the English Language (freely available on the web). Any writer and in particular the corporate board report types and academics it should be a must read.
  • Jan 24 2014: As a man Thinketh, from James Allen.

    I think this is one of the best books about human behavior and self help ever written. From the huge amount of light readings and steps like books about the subject this short book has real wisdom on every sentence that can be applied to help improve our lives and realize about the importance of what we think make us what we are.

    Highly recommended
  • Jan 24 2014: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by political theorist Hannah Arendt.

    Being of Jewish heritage, she fled Germany during Hitler's rise to power. After the tragic downfall of the Third Reich she covered the legendary trails of Adolf Eichmann, who was known as the architect of the Holocaust, as a reporter for the New Yorker.

    She focused on his upbringing, his childhood, his psychological state. She crafted her revelations around Immanuel Kant's theories on idealism, incorporating Eichmann's crooked yet understandable spin on the matter.

    Her discoveries were simple yet mind-blowing: Eichmann wasn't psychologically disturbed, nor evil or anti-Semitic. He had an ordinary upbringing, a typical life, a loving family.

    Her analysis intertwined with his mundane stories sparked compassion inside of me, forcing me to understand Eichmann's thought process as he awaits his death sentence behind bars. I was nearly disappointed in myself when I was able to relate to his tales told through his eyes, essentially delving into the mind of a genocide designer.

    I read this book during my last semester of college, it was an advanced political theory course and it violently shook up my entire outlook on life. Collectively, as a class, our post book experience was immediately met with this inevitable conclusion. This dark, bleak reality. We were able to relate to him. We were saddened at the veracity of how we're all products of our environments, even the time period we're born into and even worse, our own minds.

    He truly believed he was helping the community and leading a morally sound life. It made me question my morals, my values, my environment and the tacit ideas that we've come to accept as "how things are."

    It made me realize that it's all about luck, the luck of the womb. It's anything and everything you want to believe.
  • Jan 23 2014: For everyone: The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes Us Human by V.S. Ramachandran. Not only hilarious, but really sparked my interest in the field.
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    Jan 22 2014: "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch is a book that inspired me so much, and easily the book that always come first to mind whenever someone asked me what my favorite book is. I think I gifted at least 10 of these books to friends and family. Any summary anyone could give about this book would be insufficient, you really have to read it for your self. Or you can watch the video on youtube, but I suggest you do both :)

    I'd also recommend "WIld Swans" by Jung Chang if you're interested in Chinese history, this is a memoir of three generations Chinese women who lived through the 20th century. I read this book more than 7 years ago, but still remember the struggle, the determination, and the dream told in this memoir.

    If you enjoy fiction, Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is a splendid window to learn about the historical and cultural aspect of the lives of "real" Afghanistan.

    I'd also highly recommend "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" by Jonas Jonasson if you want to read a fictional version of the history of the 20th century, in such a witty, sardonic, fun, and refreshing way.
    • Jan 22 2014: My pick would also be "The Last Lecture", and I also gave several copies to friends as gifts. I think the impact of this book is profoundly different and personal to everyone that reads it.
  • seyma .

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    Jan 21 2014: ı would recommend A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, without a doubt. The story takes place during the French Revolution days and it shows a dark side of the revolution. Like, when the poor takes the chance, they may actually act too harsh and in order to take revenge, they may also harm innocent people without knowing it. As for that in the end of the book something (I'm won't give any spoilers) happened that I literally cried my eyes out.
    Seriously, when your reading the book, just pay extra attention to Sydney Carton... Because for sure, he will be one of your favorite book characters when you finish reading.
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      Jan 22 2014: I couldn't agree more. ABSOLUTELY ONE OF THE BEST CLASSICS OUT THERE.
  • Jan 20 2014: Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is an interesting and profound book.If humour is important I would choose John Toole's The Confederacy of Dunces-the funniest book I have ever read
  • Jan 20 2014: the chimp paradox the mind management haven't finished reading it yet but can't put he book down. people should read this book for better understanding of the mind and why some times we act the way we don't want to act. this book is good read it :)
  • Jan 20 2014: H. L Mencken's "Chrestomathy" should be on any list.Anyone who has read "The Blank Slate" should also read Pinker's "The Language Instinct" and for all those who enjoyed Bryson should have a look at Gombrich's "A Little History of the World".
  • Jan 19 2014: Good question indeed. I´ve just finished The Maids by Jean Genet. I liked by the terrible force of the situation arising.. I do not think this play form part of the theater of the absurd as some people may think. Regards
  • Jan 19 2014: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Left me thinking about the concept of freedom for days and I couldn't start another book for about a week. Thanks for asking! And thanks everyone for their comments I already made a list - love book shopping ! :)
  • Jan Mac

    • +1
    Jan 18 2014: Many books have left lasting impressions on me. The most recent was The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti. It's a compelling read; eye-opening and very moving.
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    Jan 18 2014: "Collapse'" by Jared Diamond. i found it to be relevant to our times amidst the environmental degradtion. definitely it's aone of those ' Must Read' books. once you leaf through the pages, unputdownable syndrome will catch you and you will be richer with a new perspective(s) on how far we are putting our future generations into the abyss ofcivilization- environmental holocaust.
  • Jan 18 2014: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters - one of the best written books I've read, a lot of ah-ha moments! It was recommended to me by a dear friend and that made it even more special!
  • Jan 18 2014: I strongly agree with you. Books have a remarkable impact on our life. They help us think about ourselves, our existence and our behaviour in everyday life. One of my favourite is "Siddharta". It was very important in a particular moment of my life and I read it again every time I needed to make a relevant decision and I was so confused about what to do and how to deal with difficulties, which were not exactly problems to overcome. I was simply lost in my feelings and my thoughts, which were overwhelming my common sense and my search for the sense of well-being.
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      Jan 18 2014: Several votes for Siddharta now. How old were you when you read it?
      • Jan 20 2014: I was 19 the first time I read Siddharta, but I don't remember how old I was the other two times when I read it again. As matter of fact, I am 37 now and still remember how much it affected me. Unfortunately, I am going through a very difficult period to cope with, and I think I will be watching myself glue to the book by the end of february.
  • Jan 18 2014: Tuesday with Morrie and Life of Pi, great reads to see life in a different perspective :)
  • Jan 17 2014: "How to Be Black" by Baratunde Thurston...humorous but intellectual book on being Black in America
  • Jan 17 2014: "Mountains Beyond Mountains", by Tracy Kidder. The book inpsired me to be a better and more giving person. Paul Farmer is an amazing individual!
  • Jan 17 2014: These are few books Which made a very deep impact on my life .
    All time favorite of mine will be

    1 The old man and the sea By Ernest Hemingway ....very simple story but very thoughtful message , you should be able to read between the lines.

    2 Thinking fast and slow By Daniel Kahneman ...it tells us about how our brain works , very fascinating book , you can read it again again and every time you read it you will learn something new , will recommend to keep it in your home library .

    3The picture of Dorian Grey By Oscar Wilde ....one of my second favorite ,Once you start reading you won't feel like keeping it down

    4 The power of habit why we do what we do in life or business by Duhhig Charles ..

    I have not read few of the books suggested by you all will try to read them as soon as possible ..Love reading books
    hope you enjoy above books .
  • Jan 17 2014: I have a different take on your question. The book that had the most profound effect on me was Star Surgeon by Alan E Nourse because it was the first book I read that did not have pictures. It opened my eyes to really reading the printed word and seeing through writing. I never realized the amount of information and entertainment available in books before that, fiction and fact.
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    Jan 17 2014: like philosophy?

    "The complete works of Swami Vivekananda."...:D
  • Jan 16 2014: Every introvert out there should read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can't stop talking. It's a must read. It honestly brings out the best in introverts. I felt a lot better about myself after reading it.
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    Jan 15 2014: David, I am a young guy of 23 years old, I really enjoy to read. I have read several good books but if I could choose a book that has changed my life, I have two:
    *Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
    *The secret - Rhonda Byrne
    This last book of Rhonda Byrne has revolutioned my entire life, every chance I have I recommend it to my friends. It's about how to use the attraction law in your life.
    Hope your like and be helpful in your life.
    Thanks for letting me share with you.

    Best Regards.
  • Jan 14 2014: 1. "Games People Play". The title sounds confrontational but to me it was a book that stayed with me all my life. The concept is humans live in three healthy 'ego-states' . . .Parent, Child and Adult. The author cries foul if and when someone gets hurt in a human interaction. It's a non-religious analysis of human nature with the basic premise that it's wrong to hurt someone (including yourself). It helped me to eventually understand suicide bombers; the most tragic game.
    2. "L.E.T." (Leadership Effectiveness Training). A style of leadership explained in a book.
    3. "Tobacco Road". I like books about the American south.
    4. 1984
    I like Bill Bryson and William Faulkner for writers also.
  • Jan 14 2014: Many great books listed in the other comments, here are some that others have not listed:

    1. I just finished "Team of Rivals" - puts a human face on Lincoln
    2. Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment" and "The Brothers Karamazov" - forced me to learn to read Russian and paints the human condition better than so many other novels.
  • Jan 14 2014: 'Long Walk To Freedom' by Nelson Mandela. Madiba is a rare beautiful mind; you would definitely want to gain insight into his thinking.
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    Jan 14 2014: "feeling good " , it's about curing depression , when we get controlled by mad emotion , this book tell u how to cam down with rational thoughts .
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    Jan 14 2014: Hello David! A book by Ashley Montagu, i.e., The Cultured Man, would be highly recommended. Anyway, there are a lot of great books, and many of us have our own favorites.
  • Jan 14 2014: I've read many books over my lifetime that have affected me profoundly, but two that I believe radically changed my life direction, politics, and personal philosophy, were both read within months of each other while I was serving in the US Navy in the early 80's. The first was "The Ugly American" by Eugene Lederer & William J. Burdick. and the second was "Johnny Got His Gun" by Dalton Trumbo. These two books rocked my world, and awoke my compassionate heart. I still recommend them often.
    I like that you ask this question. It is one that I find myself asking frequently when I meet new people. Much more interesting than, "What do you do?" So thanks for asking.
  • Jan 13 2014: I think though its a bit new age sort of holistic "The Secret" by Rhonda Bryne is a very good book which basically tells you that if you think positive then positive things will happen and vice versa if you always expect bad things to happen. Believe and it will happen, is the basics, theres some religious elements but depending on faith you can just ignore those it needed.
  • Jan 13 2014: I think everyone should read "Wall of Silence: The Untold Story of the Medical Mistakes that Kill and Injure Millions of Americans", 2003 by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh.

    The book is one of the best books I have read. Not only did I enjoy it and learn from it, but I changed the way I live my life because of it. For example, I changed my primary care physician, created and filled a patient advocate volunteer position at a local hospital, continue to research patient safety, and started publishing my first blog at www.HealthySkeptics.org.

    I look for opportunities to help customers of healthcare to avoid potential pitfalls. "Wall of Silence" got me started. Try it, you'll like it!
  • Jan 13 2014: "The Hero With 1000 Faces" - Joseph Campbell. A very interesting book about mythologies from around the world and how they have been constructed to help human beings to move through the different phases of life.
  • Jan 13 2014: Nine parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks--its a must read for people interested in multicultural issues
  • Jan 13 2014: Grendel, It's really really good.
  • pen h

    • +1
    Jan 13 2014: A few Books I read and was affected by this last year.

    Confessions by Leo Tolstoy

    Infinite Jest and This is Water by David Foster Wallace
  • Jan 13 2014: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
    by Naoki Higashida

    It helped me understand, a little more, what my autistic nephew is going through.
  • Jan 13 2014: The Magus. By John Fowles. A powerful narrative that is sure to awaken your mind and question the beliefs you have held true.
  • Jan 12 2014: Mindset, by Carol Dweck
  • Jan 12 2014: I would recommend Richard Dawkins books, especially "Unweaving the Rainbow", "The greatest show on earth" and, of course, "The God Delusion" - these all really helped to open my mind. For light relief, I would recommend almost anything by John Grisham, a very talented story-teller.
  • Jan 12 2014: This is great. Thanks.
    The obvious book for me is the Bible - the main book is Eclesiastes. - extremely practical and full of wisdom. I am a pragmatist at heart those my suggestions below..

    Two (other) books that are classics:

    1) The Richest Man in Babylon - George S Clason
    2) Awareness - by Anthony deMello
  • Jan 12 2014: I believe Steven Jobs said that he read Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi at least once every year. However, i believe that he did not take to the meditational practices that Paramahansa Yogananda taught. This book influenced me most profoundly and I took to the practices that he has taught and have found in them all the proof one could ever ask for. Though I am a Hindu, before I read this book (and I had tried reading some other authors) but never could understand Hindu philosophy. After reading this book I read some collections of Paramahansa Yogananda's speeches and was, for the first time, able to understand Hindu thought. Paramahansaji has written not only on the Hindu Bible (i.e. The Bhagwad Gita) but has also written a beautiful commentary on the Bible (The Second Coming of Christ) which some of those here who have mentioned having read various versions of the Bible should consider reading.
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    Jan 12 2014: /
    Hey David Levine
    What would I recommend to everyone?

    Everyone? I have a big ego, I do, but I can't see recommending anything I've read to 7 billion strangers speaking perhaps 5000 or so languages. I still want to humor you because I got hooked on your question.

    I read a lot and reread a lot, so this is a tough puzzle. I return and urge others to think about global issues like the existential questions of global warming and the current mass extinction episode number 6.

    OK. Now I just might come back to haunt you each of the days this conversation is open, but for now I flip for it, land on my head, and choose "New Self New World" by Philip Shepherd.

    It's kind of like recommending an "in body" experience of living life as a fully present aware person. No religion. No magic. A kind of well being that is waiting for you. It's almost Hindu like a practice of yoga for everyday living.

    So, if you're interested in being awake and aware and living in the present, it's nice.

    I constantly try to address global warming and the "anthropocene" effect and I find that people are caught up in future tense preoccupations and past tense preoccupations, and mental guilt and busy work, and they don't have time to think about that which is most important and most consequential in the long run.

    Now whatcha gonna do with all these suggestions??
    Just curious.

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      Jan 12 2014: Well Mark, like a lot of other bibliophiles I belong to book clubs, read reviews, and love to hear what books are touching people. I'm hoping 3 or 4 on this list that I haven't read are gems! I hadn't expected the heartfelt responses in this thread. Just reading some of the posts are really assuring me that there are a lot of kindred spirits out there that find magic in books in this electronic age. I have to confess the Patriots game is on right now though. But I'll be back in a book afterwards!
  • Jan 12 2014: The book I recommend is:
    Where your heart takes you, by SusannaTamaro.
    Olga an elderly lady, living in Italy, writes a long letter to her granddaughter who she raised.
    The granddaughter is living in the USA.
    It will move you, even though you may not be separated from your family by an ocean.
    Translated into 35 languages.
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    Jan 11 2014: The biography Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom was one of the most life-changing books I have read. If everyone read it to learn from Morrie, we would be much more appreciate of each other and life in general.
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    Jan 11 2014: Little Prince ...
    A child book for a child,
    a blow of nostalgic feelings for an adult ...
    I read it once in a while and it's always something new to me !
  • Jan 11 2014: The Minds of Billy Milligan,
    it is a great book about a man which has 24 kinds of personality,it can make your bleed boil,your arrector pili muscle constract.
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    Gord G

    • +1
    Jan 11 2014: A good question David, that elicits simple answers encrypted in a lifetime of experience.

    My reading habits are sporadic and ensconced in my culture…or more accurately…ensconced in my objections to aspects of my culture. Unfortunately both indicate an unavoidable bias.

    I feel each book I've read resonates in context to my present sense of self. Which of course means they're only relevant to my path of individuation. In other words relative to my time of life.

    The best books I've read have fostered self actualization. They've illuminated an innate truth of my being. A truth only revealed after reading the book (a statement I recognize as uncomfortably individualistically esoteric).

    My list follows this chronological trajectory…

    0 - 15: I was limited by what other people deemed noteworthy (I distinctly remember wondering why I couldn't read books in the adult section…or why there even was a distinction).

    15 - Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. It was more than the content that captivated me. It was the beauty of the writing. The magic of the language.

    21 - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Suggested to me by a woman who was a friend of a woman who I was momentarily involved with (which has a meaning in itself).

    21 onward - It was the aforementioned books that inspired me to explore and question the world. I fell in love with the written word…and the nuance of meaning.

    Prose, poetry, fiction, non-fiction…blogs and forums all enriched my life from that point forward.

    Authors such as - William Blake, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Hesse, James Joyce, John Steinbeck, Leo Tolstoy…etc.

    In a nutshell…whatever moved me…a purely quale experience enmeshed in my reality. ;-)

    Wow! I didn't realize how much words have enveloped my life … thanks for asking David. :-)
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      Jan 11 2014: Exactly the type of response I was hoping for; I think we sometimes forget just how much these written words have affected us.
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    Jan 11 2014: If you’re not a scientist—or perhaps even if you are one—I found the book “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson a highly enjoyable, while at the same time, very informative overview of the history of science. Reading about how things came to be discovered is as interesting, if not more so, than the science itself.

    A reasonably short, but compelling read is “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor. I'd already read the book before seeing her TED Talk, and found her story to be very absorbing, as well as moving.

    As for fiction, or to be more precise, fantasy, I loved reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” in my youth, and have recently been re-reading them … in the middle of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” now.

  • Jan 11 2014: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Not the films which do not serve to convey the deeper meanings and analogies contained within the written work)

    E.g. Sauron and Morder, can be equated with the heads of the Big Brother Industrial Corporations, whose lust for money and power over others, is the driving force of their destructive Machiavellian influences/propaganda, and "war" against the natural environments, that sustain us, and are essential for our continued existence, survival, and state of well being, both physically and mentally.

    Combine the analogies contained within these four books, with those contained within the two George Orwell books, Animal Farm, and 1984; and you gain an insight into the way our modern day world is heading; and it is sad to say, not a very pretty or hopeful big picture.

    Switching to the medium of film; the film Avatar serves as a good analogy, in regard to the white invasion and their massacres, and the genocides of Indian Tribes, and the subsequent destruction of the natural environment; and industrialization of North America.
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      Gord G

      • +1
      Jan 11 2014: Interesting post Carl. I think you've highlighted the amorphous nature of story. The story changes with the medium but the intent remains the same.
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    Jan 10 2014: This is quickly growing to be an amazing list. I cannot wait to begin to delve into some of these treasures!
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    Jan 10 2014: Because of mr. Terrupt by Rob Buyea. It's like a life lesson in 268 pages.
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    Jan 10 2014: 1984 - George Orwell
    The story of my experiments with truth - Gandhi
    A long way gone - Ishmael Beah
    Children of our Alley - Naguib Mahfouz
    A brief history of time - Stephen Hawking
  • Jan 10 2014: Hello my name is Blake Tijerina, the book I would suggest holds a special place for me cause it is written buy my parents and my brother. ( High Five: Love never fails ) At first glance you may think this is a self help book in a way it is. Yet there is so much more as it is our story one of lose and hurt and learning to overcome mountains. Just look it up give it a try I really do believe you will enjoy this book.
  • Jan 10 2014: Hi all,

    Like Robert Winner, I am a great believer in reading everything I can get my hands on. If it holds my attention, fine. If not, well I gave it a try and the author had an opportunity to capture me.

    I prefer to read factual books and the occassional autobiography as opposed to a biography, as I like to feel that the words are from the horses mouth, so to speak, although I still suspect that they're probably not!

    When I'm not reading an autobiography, I like to indulge in historical fiction and whilst the stories tend to concentrate on fictional characters, the historical events and the historical characters are usually there in the background somewhere. Providing that the author does not stray from the real events, it can be an enjoyable and relaxing way to learn and I too, have found myself carrying some research on some subjects, like Robert. One of my favourite writers of this genre is Conn Iggulden who wrote about Rome, Ghengis Khan and Wellington to name but a few. I've since researched those subjects and developed a real taste for them. This has led me to other authors works, some good, some no so good. Nevertheless, it's all about choice and I still get quietly excited to see a new book on the shelf occassionally.

    Happy New Year from Scotland :)
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    Jan 10 2014: Nothing as profound as some listed. But, to keep up with my grandchildren, I read what they read. There are two that I recently read that fearfully portends the future; Ender's Game and The Hunger games. In each, governance is portrayed as extremely villainous and immoral. Of course, it's simplistic science fiction. But, you can see it coming to really and that is sad.
  • Fer Mei

    • +1
    Jan 10 2014: Hello,
    as my first post on TED/Conversations I'd recommend to read Ender's Game.
    (I know there is a fresh new movie about it) but I quite recommend reading the book first. Despite all the sci-fi story's placement it's the tale of a kid with skills and more of that, with a 100% self confidence in his skills (as it is a brilliant emotional intelligence) who is the last chance of mankind to survive an alien race imminent attack.
    I really liked the way ender starts being a kid playing "victim" and considering himself as a puppet from what others expect from him and in step by step he starts becoming a leader, developing skills as communication, giving orders, trusting important choices to the people he commands and developing completly new and innovative strategies to defeat a highly superior enemy.

    I think it's similar to the story of David and Goliat (where Goliat are both the aliens he must defeat and the commanders of the militar school where he's learning how to defeat the enemy) that Malcolm Gladwell talked about (I think a must see video of TED).
    Thanks for reading
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      Jan 10 2014: Interesting you mentioned Malcolm Gladwell, I'm reading outliers right now!
    • Jan 10 2014: Fer,

      I recently saw the movie which left me wondering who was the attacking force and with the notion that Ender and the queen where similar characters controlling (and being controlled) by vast others into driving situations. Just like the queen controlled the lot, Ender controlled the lot; it's just one seemed to relay mainly on 'biological stuff' while the other relayed on 'technological stuff'. I also notice that the name includes 'End-' '-er' which leads me to think that it means the one who ends the game; akin to 'beginner' just replacing 'beginn' with 'end'.

      I am curious if you saw the movie can confirm/or not what I perceived...
      • Jan 11 2014: Hello Esteban,
        Yet if the film "forgets" several details of the book (actually as it is the process transformation from kid to strategic leader) I think you're right: Ender was being manipulated as he's still a soldier and he's responding to mankind orders (as it is allowing mankind to exist in the universe), the Queens have the same reasons to fight: they don't want to be destroyed.

        Good point about Ender's name, I guess it's because of that, he is the one to End things (as you can see the fight against the first kid, Stilson, on that kind of highschool, and later with Bonzo, the captain of Salamander squad).
        • Jan 11 2014: Fer,

          I perceived that in the movie ender has to deal with 'the bully' once and for all while apparently seeking 'a negotiated' agreement that will establish present and future entanglements.Its most apparent in part when asked: Why did you keep at it when you had already won the encounter? The response was something along the lines: I had won that encounter and still had to win every future encounter in that encounter with the kid. There seems to also be subtle underlying themes where 'ender' changes it all and is actually the beginner who establishes new ways. Even at the end there remains some hope for the future. Respecting those who have not seen the movie or read the book I will not get into the details though you might see how even in the first 'entanglement' ender would prefer to be nice while completely prepared to eloquently articulate the tango if push comes to shove. I see this happening throughout the film at different levels.

          I agree with the notion that : Ender is the last chance for the race to survive a preemptive race's attack... from looking the other books the author has written it seems that the 'Ender's Game' is just the first of several books that seek to explore developing skills in juxtaposition with each other. Something which 'bothered' me involves the story-line which revolves around the notion of the preemptive fighting for fear of being overshadowed and demoted rather than a graceful collaborative dance. At this stage it seems the singular story-line that transcends dualistic notions which I would like to perceive in books/fils/conversation has still much to be developed. For the time being it seems we still be stuck with conflicting rather than collaborating notions... some still have difficulties visualizing let alone experiencing an actual real utopia: a state in which things be perfect. I wonder what and how the perfect story would be? How would such a story-line read?
      • Jan 12 2014: Having been an avid reader of the "Ender Universe," I don't know if I agree with the etymological take on Ender's name or not. (The idea of End-er vs. Begin-er) It was originally explained as a childhood inability to pronounce Andrew. However, I don't discount that it may have actually been intended by Orson Scott Card. Also, I have avoided the movie because I'm scared to death that it will destroy the story as movies often (almost always) do. So, some of the comments about the movie may escape me entirely.

        However, it should be mentioned that Ender's story covers a VERY large story arc. For that matter, it has split off into many more books where Ender is not a character but a touchstone for other people from Battle School and Ender's family.) That being said, some things should be related about the character Ender that it appears that the movie missed.

        1) Ender characteristically avoided violence. However, when he perceived that no other option was available, he was utterly ruthless in his prosecution of it. This can be likened unto attempting to retreat from a confrontation and not being allowed to.

        2) The Formic (or Bugger) War was mostly a mistake on both sides. Alien behavior patterns on the part of the Formics and (apparently) reasonable fears on the part of humanity resulted in an unnecessary extinction of an intelligent species. This was explained in the book "Speaker for the Dead." It also results in Ender being named "Ender the Xenocide."

        Perhaps I should quit trying to draw comparisons of a movie I only have 2nd hand knowledge of and the books that I have read many times. I can only encourage you to read the whole Ender series. It is definitely a thought provoking saga.

        Having been an avid read of Card, I have to say that, for a life changing book, his "Worthing Saga" tops my list. It is a collection of short stories with a central theme. It is achingly beautiful and terrible in it's scope. To this day, the sentence "Make us clean" devastates me.
        • Jan 12 2014: Mook,

          I only watched the movie so my comments stem from that and the speculations ideas I may have on it. I understand how movies can portrait the storyline in a less than optimal way kind of like when one translates a joke from one language to another ... then again translations can have their peculiar jokes and I find humorous to hear one joke in the original language, read another in the subtitled language and perceive the congruence (or lack there of ) between the two. This humorous threesome can sometimes extend to the same language use when two individuals are involved in a conversation. One states this, the other hears that and sometimes they both laugh about it this and that and a couple of other things.

          I did get from the movie that Ender sought peaceful ways and would resort to utter remorseless violence as a last resort. The second point you mentioned I didn't get a clear image from the movie; though now that you mentioned it I can sort of see that it's somewhat there... preventive actions based on fearing the other, rather than seeking to understand them... The movie also seems to pave the road for a sequel... which from what I read of the saga explanations on the web ...would include a third intelligent species.

          From what you and others have said it seems the saga includes much food for thought, my concern is that it will follow the lines of dualistic confrontations that mostly get resolved by twists of good vs bad fighting and making up rather than presenting a singular shared experience that just cultivates good.

          I would like to thank you for what you stated, it helped me validate some of the ideas I had speculated upon.
  • Jan 10 2014: David,

    I realize you asked what book and I am going on a limb here mentioning three, though will provide state the reason why below:

    1-Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes In The Age Of The Machine Paperback
    by Donald A. Norman
    2- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
    3- Addictive Thinking: Understanding Self-Deception by Abraham J Twerski M.D.

    For me the three books revolve around one central idea that everyone should be mindful of and actively guiding what they think/feel/say/do to ensure they get the most out of life. From the first book I got the notion that there are particular characteristics associated to stuff which can be counterintuitive. The second left me with notion that we better focus on cultivating what we want. The last one will probably be the most enigmatic given the fact that the book I happened to read wasn't the book the author wrote ( I was under the influence of certain story-lines that twisted what I perceived and it took me close to half way through the book before I realize it. The author was talking about the ways of addictive thinking under the influence of drugs; where I was thinking about addictive thinking under the influence of thoughts -which create the drugs our body craves). From that book I got that addictions are bad habits and habits are good addictions; we can get caught into toxic or beneficial behaviors. Hope readers see how the central idea revolves around the stories individuals have and how these influence what individuals perceive/think/feel/do ( reading/thinking/driving under the influence of some story-lines can be toxic or beneficial ) be mindful of the stories each hold to get the most out of life.
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    Feb 9 2014: People's tastes are so different but the philosophical novel Sophie's World, written originally in Norwegian but translated into 53 languages with 30 million copies in print, has been a winner in my household. The protagonist is a teenager who is introduced to the works of the great philosophers through a middle-aged acquaintance who is a philosopher.

    It is suitable reading for a good reader of middle school age or any older reader.

    Another set accessible to anyone of that is is Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. The movie version is nothing like the book, but the series of five books is outstanding for young adult readers.
  • Feb 9 2014: David,

    When you have the time consider The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think In Action by Donald A. Schon - and then expand on it a bit more.
  • Feb 9 2014: My son is the diskworld fanatic but the family share in the books. The science is some of the best explanation of really profound things that I have seen. Ian Stewart used to write a column in Scientific American after Martin Gardner.

    Douglas Hofstadter wrote a column in Scientific American some time after Martin Gardner retired called "Metamagical Themas" and has collected these essays into a book of the same name. Some quite difficult stuff there but well worth the reading. He covers a range of subjects with quite a different approach.

    And Scientific American magazine is very important, introducing one to fields other than one's own in an accessible way. It has probably widened more people's horizons than any other resource.
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    Feb 7 2014: What are the observations and the situation you speak off?
    • Feb 8 2014: One particular observation and situation involved NNT eliminating all comments made by a particular individual who challenged/refuted some of his proposition in a public intellectual interchange while also taking actions to prevent additional 'incommoding' remarks. The claim to be open to intellectual interchanges isn't congruent with the actions taken, though most wouldn't be able to know the truth of the matter from what they can observe.

      In a metaphorical way using the black swan metaphor it would be akin to claiming that anyone could simply present a black swan to disprove the valid notion that swans are white ... while behind the seems taking the steps to prevent and block someone from presenting a black swan. Note the difficulty that some may have in recognizing what really be going on. Evidently the notion that swans are white is invalid given that there exists black swans; and presenting a specimen does not change the validity of the claim... it simply exposes it... with or without the proof the correspondence of what is claimed with what happens to be remains the same be...

      Note that I talk about the validity of the claim independent of this validity being 100% (valid ) or 0% (valid-invalid). The validity be the actual correspondence between what is claimed to be and what happens to be ; that one can demonstrate and prove such actual correspondence is a whole different matter. To use a rather simplistic example: the innocent (or guilty) be innocent (or guilty) depending on what they be; This be quite independent of someone being able to prove it or not; and also quite independent of someone claiming this or that. Some seem to think that the proponent has the burden of proof, the burden of proof may well belong and resides in someone else. It may well be that 'the proponent' is simply making a factual observation to help others discern what actually happen. The proponent may be uninterested into partaking with the proceedings. They inform and move on
  • Feb 6 2014: "The Alchemist" of Paolo Coelho

    This book is wonderful, you travel with the main character of the story and you wonder with him about our life. I love this book!
    • Feb 6 2014: Liked how the journey begins and ends... and how the quest for richness may well depend on just the right knowledge ... it may take a long trip to figure out and learn what one needs... just as it may be superfluous..
  • Feb 6 2014: "Incognito" by: David Eagleman, I enjoy trying to understand the mind and psychology and found this book quite enlightening, even though he could easily talk over the average reader he kept it in lay-mans terms. Presently reading "Knowing the Questions Living the Answers" by: Bud Harris Ph.D A book that guides one through the complexities of Jung
  • Feb 6 2014: http://archive.org/stream/TalksWithRamanaMaharishi/Talks-with-Sri-Ramana-Maharshi-Complete_djvu.txt

    I always wondered that universe does not exist, and i feel the reason is perception and reading the talks gives me the feeling that Maya may be the reason for all our perceptions.
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    Feb 6 2014: Anything by Nicholas Nassim Taleb.
    Because its opens your eyes to chance and randomness that plays a massive role in your fate and fortune.
    • Feb 6 2014: Nicholas Nassim Taleb. has a saying that goes something like: ' if you see fraud and don't say fraud then you are a fraud'; well I was really optimistic that this intellectual would be congruent between words and deeds UNTIL I found out through direct observation how he is like so many others pompous academics, only willing to listen to that which confirms what they themselves think/say! The amusing irony is how he harps about this issue while engaging in it.

      Of course there are insights in his work worth digging out, just ensure to keep what be good without being taken for a ride... oh and the fact one sees a fraud and chooses to keep ones distance from it is akin to noticing a mistake in what someone does while choosing to overlook it ... knowing someone did something wrong and choosing not to accuse them of doing it hardly makes one be responsible for what others choose to do (or not do)... It's a bit like when someone shifting the burden of proof from themselves towards others rather than keep it their own.

      Always remember that each be responsible for their actions (which includes what each chooses to do and not do) without this meaning one be necessarily responsible for stoping others from doing certain stuff... especially when one has voiced a alerting rightful comment. beware and ensure to get it as it ought to be gotten and act accordingly.
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        Feb 7 2014: Its a moral thing

        I see your point on the Fraud comment however I don't think the intention of the statement by NNT is to make you responsible for their behavior, rather it means that your irresponsible in your own behavior.

        I don't particularly like Frauds - so I'd more often than not announce when I see one, not because I feel responsible for what they've done but because I feel its a responsible thing to do - morally.

        In terms of irony, we're all subject to bias, and he often admits it. His idea of simply picking something off a menu based on what the fattest person in the room is having isn't some special tactic he's developed but just an example of cognitive dissonance. Its just a way of lowering the tension associated with making a potentially conflicting decision, were all susceptible!
        • Feb 7 2014: Jamie,

          I too feel/think that each ought to expose the truth of the matter for all to see because that in principle will help us understand and learn to see errors as errors and rights as rights ... the responsible thing to do morally is to correct what needs correcting rather than just silence the alarm so others aren't made aware of the situation. Some hoaxers will get rid of anyone who dares to contradicts them, especially when such individual actions can expose their hoax as a hoax.

          The fact we're all subject to bias, and that we may be prone not to recognize nor admit errors... because of what we want hardly justifies maintaining the error and silencing whomever dares to expose a better more appropriate alternative. Cherry picking, procrustean solutions, "simply picking something off a menu based on what the fattest person in the room is having" can get us served a plate that is bitter-sweet ... may taste good though be a health hazard. An academic who shuns actual refutations to their views to maintain their illusory image of being right hardly can be considered a righteous academic. AS I said I was really optimistic that this intellectual would be congruent between words and deeds UNTIL I found out through direct observation the truth of the matter. I am letting you (and others) know of 'the situation' that you may be less susceptible and exposed to being taken for a ride.

          On a side note, that one sees something and chooses to do this or that hardly makes one be responsible/irresponsible for what others choose to do ( granted some will argue and want to make certain observers into accomplices). In a way everyone intervenes it's just how they intervene that differentiates ones from others...
  • Feb 6 2014: Simple and three books actually. Thee Day Road, Through Black Spruce and The Orenda. All by Canadian author Joseph Boyden.
  • Feb 6 2014: The True Believer by Eric Fromm
    It is about massive changes in society. It will help understand changes taking place in Middle East and Africa in political changes. To the west it will give insight into how to guide changes needed and accepted by masses. even Pope can benefit
  • Feb 6 2014: My favorites are:
    1.Lust for Life-Irving Stone
    2.The prophet -Khalil Gibran
    3.The zen and art of motorcycle maintenance- Robert Pirsig.
  • Feb 6 2014: Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell - This book is about turning mistakes into stepping stones towards success. Now, I never see mistakes as failures. I see them as opportunities.
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    Feb 5 2014: Tiger at the Gates, a play by Jean Giraudoux.

    Huge volumes have been written on why men fight wars, but this short, sardonic play set in Troy is so brilliant in pointing out the total absurdity but inevitability of war that I wouldn't be able to chose only one quote to post here. Tiny, but mighty in its influence on me!
  • Feb 5 2014: The most meaningful book I have ever read is 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time' by Mark Haddon. Written in 1st person singular in the perspective of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome, it explores the concepts of perseverance, honesty and trust. I highly recommend it to everyone! It is a very entertaining novel.
    Another book I highly recommend is 'My Sister's Keeper' by Joudi Piccoult about a family with three kids, a (bad) boy, a girl with Leukemia and a designer-baby girl who has been brought to the world to keep her sister alive. The book is a slightly tougher read, but definitely worthwhile. It has an amazing twist at the end of the novel making the ending unexpected.
  • Feb 5 2014: I understand many here at TED are strongly anti religion and that's completely fair. A lot of terrible stuff has happened in the name of God and religion. I personally have no answers, only questions. That being said, "The World's Religions" by Huston Smith has probably been the most influential and thought provoking book I have ever read. If you have any urge to understand and/or broaden your current understanding of the major religions this is the book I recommend.
    • Feb 5 2014: Jacob,

      I concur and do sense how many here have a stance that be strongly anti religion ... I find that stance is actually completely unfair and undeserving regardless of the fact that stuff has happened in the name of God and religion because for all I know it was in the name of God and religion though not related to God's ways. Let's keep the baby before we discard out the dirty waters. For that matter, rather than contaminate discarding the dirty waters lets pass them through a process that transforms them into useful stuff.
      • Feb 5 2014: I guess I meant that its fair for them to have their own opinions. I cant choose for anyone. We all have to come to our own understanding of reality. I can appreciate your opinion as well as theirs. I have found guidance in this book and would recommend it to anybody but if a person sees no value in religion then they may be wasting their time in reading it. There are many paths to the same destination of responsible actions. The only thing I would ever ask anyone would be to keep an open mind, its the only way we can grow.
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    Feb 2 2014: Alchemist by Paulo Coelho! This book changed my life for the better
  • Feb 2 2014: Anthony Robbins' Awake The Giant Within : How to take Immediate Control of you Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny. Why? The title says it all.
    It is another profound and powerful tool from Robbins' arsenal of self-awareness and self-development.
  • Alex M

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    Feb 2 2014: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself
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    JB E

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    Feb 2 2014: Carl Sagan's "The Demon Haunted World" It's a book from the great late astronomer about critical thinking and skeptical thinking and how important it is for us all to use this mentality. It points out how this hasn't been the case in this world and how it impedes progress. The title eludes to religion and pseudoscience and how such things are detrimental to civilisations progress and how science helps to bring truth to light.
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    Feb 1 2014: Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda it is life changing.
    Bhagavad Gita
    Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman
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    Jan 31 2014: Reading is breathing for me and I love literature. Have read quite books from various genres, like, Classics, Philosophy, Business, Fiction, Inspirational and many more.
    The book I loved till now very much is, The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell . This piece of literature has it's own essence of joyous reading. I recommend this because it encompasses the biography of ideas in a wonderful manner throughout every crisp page of it. Added to that, this book is a must read also because, it helps one to cross limit of a particular social behaviour. Overall, a beautifully crafted piece.
    • Feb 1 2014: Consider Blink the art of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

      I bought both books one about a year before the other and never got to read the first one which was the tipping point... I have also heard that the last one Malcolm put out David and Goliath redefines the notion of who had the actual advantage in that encounter ...
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    Jan 31 2014: Thanks, good to know!
  • Jan 30 2014: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. A friend suggested I read this book and was a little skeptical at first. It has been ages since I read a book this good. It has given me a clearer understanding of doing business and how government and big business interact. This is a must read for everyone.
  • Jan 30 2014: Hello Mr. Levine,
    I would like to suggest a book called 'Mriyunjay- by Shivaji Sawant'
    I have read this book recently. It is set in India and is based on the epic'Mahabhararta'. Mriyunjay is the story of a warrior 'Karna' (who is also the son of the Sun God) . The book beautifully describes the valuable lessons of life. It is believed that there are two faces of life- good and evil. But this book shows its readers the third face too. Karna's life is the third face...It also describes how one lives with its principles(which I believe is not easy..)
    I dont know if english translation of this book is available or not. If it is available, please read it.
  • Jan 30 2014: How to Think About Weird Things : Critical Thinking for the Modern Age - Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn
    Taking no position on any one subject this book is an examination of decision processes. An important step in developing our faculties is understanding how we are using them.

    Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot - Dr.Richard Restack
    A users manual for the brain.

    Technopoly - Neil Postman
    Exploring the tipping point between a civilization that moulds technology, and a technology that moulds civilizations. Anything by Postman is a worthy read in my experience.
  • Jan 29 2014: A hero of our tme by Lermontov. One of the best portraits of vices and challenges of human beings. . The main character expresses his feelings of emptiness and boredom in life through wicked and manipulative actions. At the end of the day he is just a man with a lost soul, who would rather die than keep living in this complete soul boredom..
  • Jan 28 2014: "La mente vista da un cibernetico" (The mind thought by cybernetics) di SILVIO CECCATO -1972-, perchè apre la mente verso orizzonti mai prima toccati.
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    Jan 27 2014: Thank you so much for opening this conversation; if you compile a list of titles I would love to have it. There are many qualities that make a good book and I read many good books but as far as 'profound effect Rohinton Mistry's 'A fine balance'. Also in my teen age years a book that really spoke to me was 'Alexis Zorba' by Nikos Kazantakys
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    Jan 26 2014: Has anybody read Shantaram- Gregory David Roberts?
    It is the most beautiful book I have ever read, it sizes up a number of ideas and thoughts against the grand scheme of everything and you learn so so soo much about your relativity to others and different cultures and just please read ?!! Its set in india and told from an Australian guys pov.
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      Jan 27 2014: I did read Shantaram in a few exhausting days when I was barely getting any sleep because I could not put it down; it was before my very first trip to India and it opened a long list of books set in India or by indian authors. I even went to Leopold's. Needles to say: I loved it but looking back I think he showed off to much virtue...and he didn't learned lessons... too much of the same attitude unjustified.
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    Jan 24 2014: The Prophet - Gibran khalil Gibran, Because its a compact book that enormously changed and affected my life.
  • Jan 24 2014: Into thin air by Jon krakauer. This book captures a sense of true human adventure with real humanity. After reading this book I find that I am drawn to any book that mentions Mt. Everest.
  • Jan 23 2014: "the monk who sold his ferrari" by Robin Sharma
    it will teach you many ways to live your life completely enjoying every little moment and accomplishing big task with a cakewalk.
    Give it a shot and you will find it engaging for sure :)
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    Jan 23 2014: In your lifetime, you must read at least one book that has won the Man Booker! My favourites are:
    - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
    - Life of Pi - Yann Martel

    Or my personal favourite (shortlisted, not a winner unfortunately), A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
  • Jan 22 2014: tales from tolestoy

    its short storys about diffrant things , but every story give you idea about spacifi thing
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    Jan 22 2014: "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

    A world in which color no longer exists, feelings are subdued, weather and almost every aspect of life is completely controlled by a panel of wise elders.

    I read this book for the first time when I was still in grade school, probably around 4th grade and have reread it half a dozen times since.

    There are many things you find yourself thinking would be beneficial for our society. The plethora of moral dilemmas and ethical issues addressed makes it impossible not to spend time introspecting and developing your own sense of morals and ethics with regard to our societal issues.

    Reading this book at different stages is almost like a self test to find out how your morals and ethics have adapted and changed throughout life's experiences and maturity.
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    Jan 22 2014: Very important: 'El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha", by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Realistic, humorous, ironic, wise, humble, human, philosophical, intelligent, gives a deep and different vision of man and society.

    Most notably "The Critic" by the Spanish Jesuit Baltasar Gracian: a school for living and think smart and right. Highly recommended. Deep observation of human psychology and shows the thought of the intellectual European and Spanish Baroque. It´s prefectly applicable to present days, it's a gorgeous school for life. By this author, also 'The hero' and 'The discret', pieces of advise for politicians, kings, governors, and so on.

    You'll enjoy the reading, I'm sure. Centuries have not been able to remove freshness of this books.
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    Jan 22 2014: Well honestly speaking, I haven't read any book apart from my course books. I have interest in history books and I recommend others to study history books too because they let you know about your origin.
    • Jan 22 2014: Abdul,

      Would highly recommend everyone read the conduit metaphor (http://www.colorado.edu/ling/courses/LAM5430/5430e_reserves/Conduit_Metaphor.pdf)

      Honestly speaking, the arrangements many know as books be 'encoded messages' that may help an individual to regenerate ideas which one attributes certain meanings that may correspond to something out there. The thing is that individuals require to know how to decode the message from the arrangements and ensure that it's the intended one, sometimes the arrangements have multiple messages that tell different stories. How does one know the book enables one to know a story about their origin which corresponds to one's actual origin?

      Succinctly put history books let you know the story some authors encoded about the origins which may correspond in some way to the actual story though knowing how it corresponds is a crucial key. Of course assuming one knows how to decode, interpret, build, tweak and use the arrangements.
  • Jan 21 2014: Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean for an interesting insight on routines/habits people create
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    Jan 21 2014: Without a doubt: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - it's by far the best novel I have ever read. It offers emotional insight into the lives of India's street beggars as well as a reminder of how deeply the caste system is embedded society.
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      Jan 27 2014: I agree with you!!! Although it was probably the most depressing book I ever read, I remember when I finished it how I put it down thinking that whenever I will be sad, depressed or feel like life is not going my way I will read that book again. It teaches you humbleness and reminds you really how little we should need to be happy.
  • Jan 21 2014: The Urantia Book, published by Urantia Foundation; Chicago. Find them on the web.

    It has given me new clarity of the Cosmos, its origin, management, and relating of our planet to others. Multiple personalities not heretofore known are described who are involved in a vast enterprise larger than us humans can imagine or comprehend. Our world history is better understood and we gain new understanding of why we have so much trouble, plus we gain a better understanding of what must be done to achieve a high level quality of life. Plus, the identity and purposes of Jesus is explained and a super bonus is given for new understanding of what he taught. The human Jesus and his marvelous model of living is available for the first time through narration of his life from birth to death.

    It addresses questions human beings have held for centuries. Its an extensive book; most anyone would likely need many passes through the book before reaching a modicum of understanding and comprehension. Keep an open mind; good books serve a good purpose for those seeking valuable new insights. A cruise through the Table of Contents could be helpful for finding a beginning point to read, but eventually one must read it entirely from the beginning.
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    Jan 21 2014: Origin of the Species
    Origin of the Family , State & Private Property
  • Rupa K

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    Jan 21 2014: 1. All PG Wodehouse books - perfect companion for all times, especially the Blandings series.
    2.bill brynson;s - short history of everything - simple explanations, which make you think about our everyday things. Its fascinating to read the inter-connection of things/situations from the time earth was born till now. It makes you go back and read of lot of concepts explained in this book.
    3. Lust for Life - Irving Stone - a fictional but amazing biography of Vincent Van Gogh.
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    Jan 21 2014: Idiot, Dostoyevsky.
  • Jan 21 2014: bill bryson's a short history of everything.
    it's important to know how our world and nature works, and understanding the lengths scientists go to find their answers and learning how those answers were found and other possibilities discounted is necessary for that. this book is the closest i've seen any come to giving a complete picture, no cutting out any important details and making an enjoyable read to boot.
  • Jan 21 2014: The Difficulty of Being Good by Gursharan Das

    It is a wonderful book which studies the Indian epic, The Mahabharata, to expostulate on ethics, i.e., what is the right thing to do? The whole premise is not just relevant to our times but has acquired urgency in a more connected world, where actions of any society affect another in a far more pervasive way than ever before. Since the prime mover of the thought in the book is the story, it holds the interest of the reader at all times.

    Great read!
  • Jan 21 2014: He can who thinks he can by Orison Swett Marden

    The book showcases triumph over adversity of the world's greatest leaders through out history.
    Lincoln and his resolution "I promised my God I would do it"

    "History furnishes thousands of examples of men who have seized occasions to accomplish results deemed
    Impossible by those with less resolute. Prompt decision and whole souled action sweep the world before them."

    An inspirational self help book available in public domain and the librivox app for free audibles.
    Yes I am promoting free knowledge, I simply find more time daily I can listen as opposed to read.
    It has been a cornerstone in refocusing my life to utilize my career and professional skills to mass produce solar stoves and sustainable shipping.
  • Jan 20 2014: Hello David. I´m very honoured by your attentio. Best Regards
  • Jan 17 2014: Heaven and Hell

    There is no other book that wil give us this kind of details about, not only the next life, but also about the life we live now. How the two are connected and what we have to do to go to either.
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    Jan 16 2014: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood as a cautionary tale.
  • Jan 15 2014: I am a 20 years old college student and I recommend CLASS MATTERS to any individuals who are unaware to what is going on in human society. By reading it, the individual will understand the story behind a person and as u
    You go on, you will understand that we all have different hindered stories and best to respect the Person and just go along with what they said.
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    Jan 15 2014: Honestly, I never read all content of the book "The compassionate samurai" of Bria Klemmer but I read the summary of content of that book and I am good impression on it. It teaches me many things in business, such as:
    - Commitment is the basis for trust, which is the foundation of all relationships. Therefore, breaking it equates to destroying trust.
    - Choice is about the ability to create liberty. What you pick now determines what you enjoy tomorrow. What you decide not to choose also determines what you will never have in this lifetime.
    So, if you have the same thinking with me, please share. Specially, if you have ebook, please send to me. I am very grateful.

    I very like reading books, specially marketing books. So If you have any kind of that book, can you send through internet to me? Or we can make friends if we are the same hobby.
  • Jan 15 2014: Thanks for the further recommendation, and your insight. Always nice to come across someone so thoughtful.
  • Jan 15 2014: I read "Half the Sky" about two years ago and it really had a profound effect on me. It really opened my eyes to the plight of women and girls in third world countries who are making a difference. They are doing well in spite of their circumstances. It really made me want to see what I can do to help.
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    Jan 15 2014: Most Recent---Water For Elephant. Interesting topic and characters
    Fiction----Replay----Loved the concept of second chances and how choices affect our life
    Nonfiction----Transitions------learning about transitions and how to deal with them
  • Jan 14 2014: good one
  • Jan 12 2014: Terry Pratchett, Ian Stuart and Jack Cohen - "The Science of Diskworld" I to IV
    Best general popular science exposition and what science is really about. Fun. But first you must read (at least) Terry's "Colour of Magic" to set the scene.

    Daniel C Dennett - "Darwin's Dangerous Idea"

    Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett - "The Mind's I"

    These are the books that clarified many things for me.
    • Jan 12 2014: Two thumbs up to anything by Terry Pratchett! Always good for a laugh.
      • Jan 13 2014: Terry Pratchett IS always good for a laugh, making it easy to miss the deep reality concealed there.

        His "Science of Diskworld ..." books are written in conjunction with two serious scientists and the content is exceptional, both as Diskworld and as science.

        One quote: "Newton was NOT a scientist" !

        These are not to be missed.
        • Jan 13 2014: Absolutely, those are few of the books of his I haven't read, but will definitely check them out. I'm definitely a disc world geek. I have given my entire disc world collection to my wife's nephew Because of the fact that between the laughs he has worthwhile messages!
        • Feb 9 2014: I'm about 100 pages into "The Science of Discworld", great book! Sharp stuff, and there are references to things I haven't seen in other physics book directed towards laymen like myself. For instance, the deceleration of Pioneer 10 &11 calling Einstein' s theories into question and the existence and implications of axions. Good stuff sir!
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    Jan 12 2014: Hi David,
    "A Course in Miracles". I recommend this book especially for those who might have been brought up in a christian churchy way, but then later in life left it all because it (a).... did not deliver anything relevant contemporary life, and/or (b).... got fed up with the way the church trades on shame, guilt and fear. "A Course in Miracles" will straighten out your warped church upbringing, show that you are essentially good and innocent (rather than bad and guilty), and how to move from illusion to truth.
  • Jan 12 2014: Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray. - letting go
    Failing Forward by john Maxwell -turning mistakes into success
    First you have to row a little Boat by ? author- life lessons
    Many more to follow
  • Jan 12 2014: Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Youseff. It's the true story of the son of a Hamas spiritual leader who converts to Christianity and works with the Israeli Shin Bet (Sort of equivalent to the CIA). The behind the scenes look at the hatred in the middle east can give a new perspective to all.
  • Jan 12 2014: One book I always advise my students to read is "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Alex Haley. That book opened my eyes in many ways. How one person can change their life continually, and influence so many people. It was has been a great influence on my life.
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    Jan 12 2014: The best book I have read recently and has left a mark inside is Kith by Jay Griffins.
    As a teacher and a mother that has or rather used to travel in Asia, I was always enthrawlled by the children's silence!!!!! They never cried, wingged or had tantrums......How could that be???? I did have ideas about it and would walk through my personal thoughts to get things right. I usued to spend loads of time investigating this bizzare quality of child collaboration. In kith I found most of my answers and I was sooo happy to share her views. her knowledge was invaluable to me as a mother and a teacher.
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    Jan 12 2014: Hey David, I've got an idea!
    You've got ample space just below your topic heading. Why not create a top 5 or top 10 list.
    As comments come in and books are recommended, you could just keep a running tally and...
    VOILA!!! David Levine's Top 10 Tedster Reads!
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      Jan 12 2014: I did think of creating a list but until the thread dies I really love the comments that let me know people are actually reading the other threads before posting (maybe to avoid duplicate posting). I also thought about having the group choose one - kind of a TED book club? What do yo think..
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    Jan 12 2014: Mine. would you like to buy a copy? ;)
    • Jan 12 2014: What's the price ?
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        R H

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        Jan 13 2014: Sorry, i was just joking.
  • Jan 12 2014: If I was asked which book should stay in my memory if all others would be forgotten, the answer would be "Complexity" by Mitchell Waldrop. Provides most of the answers amd lights the way.

    It led me to Stuart Kauffman's "At Home In The Universe" which took three readings to fully absorb. I ended up financing a translation into Turkish and a print run to gift to my friends and staff. This book provides all the answers.
  • Jan 12 2014: I will never forget McPherson's "Tried By War" which chronicles President Lincoln's struggle during the Civil War to galvanize the war effort and provide knowledge and hands on leadership to the staggering inertia he often experienced with his generals. He not only had to teach himself the ways of war, he had to teach others who should. by all rights, have been teaching him, right down to experimenting with rifles on the White House lawn. Despite his enormous gifts and acumen, this facet of leadership was one he never anticipated but he mastered it.
  • Jan 11 2014: One from a list of many, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Miraculous survival of a book by the goodness of people, six centuries of history and an engrossing mystery.
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    Jan 11 2014: While I, like most posters here, have my own favourites whose titles and writings hold special significance. But the question asked here is very direct and has both a 'should' requirement as well as a 'universal' mandate.

    Therefore I suggest The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, a very short but extremely potent story.

    Governments, meaning Politics constrain, regulate, manipulate and dominate our lives and everyone needs to be armed against its excesses and those who seek to define and direct that governance with their own agendas. Although written some 500 years ago and focused primarily on the "Royal Court' maneuvers of that era, the scheming, conniving and behind the scenes manipulations are just as relevant today as then.

    It is my opinion that, If you are not an active participant in your political system, you will eventually become a victim of it. What else has as broad a reach and has such a long history peppered with so many periods of petty, mean-spiritedness as the politics evolving around systems of governance? ,
  • Jan 11 2014: 21 Balloons by William Pene duBois.

    It was read to me by my teacher in 5th grade. It instilled a value system in me I didn't even realize until I was 30. I have a recurring dream where I possess some of the incredible skills these people took for granted. I love those dreams.

    Thank you for asking.
  • Jan 11 2014: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt:
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    Jan 11 2014: The quark and the jaguar. A book about how complexity is derived from chaos and simplicity by Murrey Gel Mann who incidentally also won the nobel prize for physics after describing the 'quark' one of the building blocks of matter. However the book is not a science book. It describes how truly complex things come about as an emergent property and mostly as a side effect of truly simple processes. I'm pretty much a bibliophile and this book ranks in my top 20. Just below Painebut above Darwin.
  • Jan 11 2014: The varieties of Religious experience, William James 1905

    The feeling of what happens, Antonio Damasio

    They both widen the understanding of how everyone works inside.
  • Jan 11 2014: There are so many amazing books out there that it is hard to narrow it down. I am listing the first two that popped into my mind.
    Quiet by Susan Cain- I strongly encourage all parents and teachers to read this book. It is a book about introverts for extroverts and as the parent of an introvert it was illuminating, validating, and comforting. Frankly, if you are an extrovert and find the behavior of quiet, introverted, people baffling then you should definitely read this. We live in a very extrovert oriented world and we are not doing ourselves any favors by tilting everything in this direction.

    Possession by A.S. Byatt- A beautifully written love story packed with history, literature, and passion.
  • Jan 11 2014: My vote would be for "Three Against the Wilderness", by Eric Collier. In it he describes how he brought back the beaver to Meldrum Creek in the high Chilcoten in central British Columbia and how this changed a wasteland into a wilderness.
  • Jan 11 2014: Hi David:),recently I read a book which is about teaching,here I like to recommend the book to all teachers:'The courage To Teach' by Max J. Palmer.There are many good ideas about teaching from the book,espeically how a teacher understand'teaching,learning,teacher,students,environment'.

    For parents,I like to recommend another book:'The Road Less Travelled' by M.Scott Peck,I was inspired by the book to understand how love to children,to family member...it is a very helpful book for my life.Good reading there:)
    • Jan 12 2014: If you enjoy Parker Palmer 's books, you might enjoy A Hidden Wholeness, The Journey Toward An Undivided Life. It takes the ideas in Courage To Teach and broadens them beyond the teaching profession. Without a doubt, Parker Palmers work has changed the way I see the world. Great choice.
      • Jan 14 2014: Hi Susan:),Thanks for the recommend the book,I didn't read 'A Hidden Wholeness' yet.I will read it if I can buy it in conenient.

        Infact,Parker Palmer's an undivided life idea is really a very unique idea to deal with learning and as well as in our lives,and lots of conflicts in our lives we can solve them with the thinking,at least I felt so.It can broaden your view to see the whole world around you.
        • Jan 14 2014: David,
          Palmer has continually evolved with his examination of listening, community and the sense of connecting who we are with what we do. The very first book I read by Palmer is To Know as We Are Known, Education As A Spiritual Journey, and you can find the seeds of his later thought there (1971!). If you really like what he is saying, you might also look at The Center For Courage and Renewal online. These are actual Circles of Trust as described in his writings. The Circles of Trust (clearness commitees) described in his books are experienced in these workshops. Also, there is a collection of essays compiled by Sam In tractor (educator, Smith College) ..The essays are inspired by the impact of Palmer ' s work in the lives of people working in a range of professions.

          I am glad to know his work is still being "found". His work intersected with my personal journey at a time I needed to honor my own voice. It was in there. ..but Palmer ' s work helped me to honor what I was hearing in the midst of all the distractions and the noise. May you have an equally meaningful and inspiring journey. --Susan
      • Jan 19 2014: Hi Susan,although I didn't read Palmer's books as many as you did,but definitely I couldn't agree with you more some ideas and feelings you got from reading Palmer's writings.I must say:Palmer is definitely can be a great educator in my life to guide me in my teaching job.
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    Jan 11 2014: 'Long Walk To Freedom' by Nelson Mandela. Madiba is a rare beautiful mind; you would definitely want to gain insight into his thinking.
  • Jan 11 2014: Hi Gord

    Yes the story changes according to the present day environment, and circumstances (Medium); but then becomes the history of, in regard to the ongoing story.

    But throughout the history, and the ongoing history of the story, the intent in all its Machiavellian disguises remains unchanged, and the same; "I'm the king of the castle and your the dirty rascal".

    And the methods used to gain such a position, repeat themselves over and over again throughout the longevity of the story, in many and varied combinations; but the fundamental basis of the story, which is that of power seeking, remains the same.

    And it is interesting that people say that truth is stranger than fiction; but do not realize that all fictional stories are founded on truth. The characters of a story line may be fictional, but the story line itself can be equated with happenings and events, which have happened and continue to happen in the real world.

    E.g A fictional story written about the ongoing white slave trade; is written because there is an ongoing white slave trade; And you can bet that given the number of victims involved; that the fictional written story line, would equate to the same experiences, undergone by many of the real victims.

    Cheers Carl
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    Jan 11 2014: "The Hero With 1000 Faces" - Joseph Campbell. A very interesting book about mythologies from around the world and how they have been constructed to help human beings to move through the different phases of life.

    "Revolution In The Head" - a fantastic book about The Beatles' songs as well as an excellent foreword essay about the relationship between pop culture and the social and political upheaval of the 50's and 60's.
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      Jan 11 2014: Scott- I think Joseph Campbell was truly a lucid thinker. Very inspirational. The threads of his thoughts lead me to individuals such as Marshall Mcluhan [ I know ..not a direct link. ;-) ]
    • Jan 11 2014: Campbell made some good points, but he overstated similarities and ignored potentially important differences in his mad rush to make a point. It's good to look at all those cultures and stories he cited from other sources, too, to see how they differ as well. That being said, Campbell is a good starting point, but not a good place to end. Use him as a springboard.
  • Jan 11 2014: I would recommend the book "A Lost Soul" This book is self published by new author Barbara Jean. I know you have to order it through her email. barbjean1960@yahoo.com but it is well worth it. It is about a young lady that took her own life because of bullying and intolerance. it is such a moving love story, and it is 100% true. a young couple try to hold their love together, will other try to destroy them. I found it shows the lifetime scars that bullying can leave, not just to the bullied, but to the bully's as well. find the book on goodreads. under ISBN 978-0-9920832-0-5 She is donating a big part of the sales to anti-bulling.
  • Jan 10 2014: I'd recommend "All Quiet on the Western Front" to anyone with an overly glorified view of armed conflict. Hardly for everyone though, its depressing as hell (that's sort of the point).
    "Catch-22" is also recommended for similar reasons, and it helps that it makes for a lighter read (though compared to the All Quiet, there's not much that isn't lighter). Black comedy at its finest, the sort of book that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

    Anyone looking for more practical advice should check out Sun Tzu's "The Art of War". An short read (the commentaries for the different interpretations are actually longer then the translated source material--from what I understand, ancient Chinese is a pain to translate) that helps in practically any endeavor involving competition between multiple parties, martial or otherwise.
    Machiavelli's "The Prince" also makes for an interesting read into the insights of power and its dynamics. Some say it was written satirically, but I have my doubts, seeing that it involves advice of the practical kind that has been documented to work remarkably well (which would probably make it a horrible satire, if that was the intent).

    For anyone looking to get involved in the sciences, I'd recommend a healthy dose of science fiction. Many great concepts for new technologies were first written about in fiction before someone managed to figure out the engineering to make it practical--in fact, that's a lot of where many of the ideas come from. Can't think of anything specific which stands out especially though...
    The important thing is to differentiate between proper science fiction and a space opera (essentially a fantasy novel that happens to take part in space, as opposed something more founded in real life).
  • Jan 10 2014: "Hop on Pop."

    It teaches to not hop on Pop.
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    Jan 10 2014: Well, the trouble with this question, David, is that I read a book that I found magic in, but I'm not sure everyone would find magic, so I can't say everyone should read it. Or maybe everyone should read it on the chance that they'll get some of the magic. But the book is called Maasai Days, by Cheryl Bentsen. This gave me a lot of direction and purpose, it gave me an occupation, dairy farming, to shoot for; and it radically changed my diet, for the last five years I have been living almost entirely on skim milk, every day I drink about two gallons of skim milk and hardly eat or drink anything else, and this is an idea I took from the Maasai tribe of Kenya that the book is about.
    • Jan 11 2014: To paraphrase: "Beware the man of one book."
  • Jan 10 2014: "Gathering Blue" by Lois Lowery changed my life. Even though I read it when I was 12, it still affects me today. It opened my eyes to hatred and discrimination and provoked a strong emotional responce. Ever since I read that book, I have questioned what, if anything, makes a person better, or more worthy than someone else? Can we just stand on top of a mountain and declare ourselves king? It's not a sophistacated or well known book... but it should be.