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What Are You Reading?

Posted on : Oct-17-2009 | By : Liz | In : Blog Post, skepticism

Tags: ,


I’ve been thinking a lot about reading lately, in part because of a really cool new Boston Skeptics meetup that is currently in development.  I’m new to active Skepticism, so for the past few months I have been avidly reading books related to science and skepticism.  I’m fairly certain I’ve finished more books since January than I did in all four years of college (unless you count Agatha Raisin mysteries).  Right now I’m in the middle of God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens (that one gets some funny looks on the bus), and while it is a good read and very interesting, I won’t lie:  I can’t wait to finish so I can start Simon Singh’s Trick or Treatment.  I often find myself in a conundrum at the bookstore, trying to decide what topic to read about next. Atheism? Evolution? Quantum mechanics? Quackery? Gaaaa!

Help me out: What are you currently reading, how do you decide what to read next, and what are your recommendations for fellow skeptics?

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Comments (10)

I’m currently reading (and working through the homework problems for) David Tong’s introduction to quantum field theory, because I’m a big nerd. OK, since it’s intended for graduate students in physics, it might not be the best bus reading for everybody, but hey, I’ll take my pleasures where I can find them!

Last week I got Tom Levenson’s Newton and the Counterfeiter, which is the true story of how, after Isaac Newton invented calculus and founded modern physics, he moved to London and fought crime. Yes. WIN.

I find books because friends or people on the Interwebs recommend them. Usually, by the time the Amazon “we think you’ll like this!” feature and other suchlike programs come up with something which actually looks interesting, I’ve already heard about it from somebody I know.

Currently, I’m reading Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Something I had always meant to read, but I pushed it off until recently.

I’ve got a lot of fiction sitting in my reading queue right now. A book of Jeeves & Wooster stories I picked up before TAM and never read, John Scalzi’s latest book, Zoe’s Tale, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. I’ve got a couple of non-fiction books, as well. Mainly The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins, plus Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. (I think I’ve already read the latter, but it couldn’t hurt to do it again.

I’ll probably pick up Zoe’s Tale next, since Scalzi’s stuff reads pretty quickly, and it’ll be a nice chaser after something as dense as Brothers Karamazov, then I’ll move on to Dawkins’ book.

I don’t, honestly, read much skeptical non-fiction. I have blogs for that. Science books, on the other hand, especially biology books, I can’t get enough of. I haven’t read the infamous God Delusion or the aforementioned god is Not Great, for instance, and almost certainly never will. But I’ve read Origin of the Species and Endless Forms Most Beautiful and The Selfish Gene, et al., and am always looking for new pop biology books to read.

Also, I mostly learn of new books through either friends or bloggers. I run on recommendations, almost entirely, although often if I like a particular author I’ll seek out their other stuff on my own.

I figured it’s about time I post here :)

Anyway, for some good skeptical reads, How We Know What Isn’t So is a good book. I also really liked Sam Harris’ books.

As for non-skeptical stuff, I’ve been reading Why Does E=MC^2 which is a fascinating explanation of relativity. It was a great supplement to the lecture about the Large Hadron Collider we had a while ago.


Thanks Scott, I might have to check out that relativity one!

If you’re not afraid of religion, then how about Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. It’s by an atheist who became a devout Christian. Read his argument and see if you can figure out whether he was right or wrong.


I can’t speak for Mary, who’s running the book club, but I personally find that non-fiction books are more interesting when they’re about things that are real.

I mean, I honestly can’t think of a literary genre more boring and trite than apologetics. Ex-atheist apologetics doubly so.

I am looking forward to the book club. Any word on when it will meet?

I second Joshua’s opinion of apologetics.

The Full Facts Book Of Cold Reading:
A Comprehensive Guide To The Most Persuasive Psychological Manipulative Technique In The World And Its Application To Psychic Readings
by Ian Rowland


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