The Best Popular Books on Every Subject

by iarwain11 min read19th May 201519 comments


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I enjoy reading popular-level books on a wide variety of subjects, and I love getting new book recommendations. In the spirit of lukeprog's The Best Textbooks on Every Subject, can we put together a list of the best popular books on every subject?

Here's what I mean by popular-level books:

  • Written very well and clearly, preferably even entertaining.
  • Does not require the reader to write anything (e.g., practice problems) or do anything beyond just reading and thinking, except perhaps on very rare occasions.
  • Cannot be "heavy" reading that requires the reader to proceed slowly and carefully and/or do lots of heavy thinking.
  • Can be understood by anyone with a decent high school education (not including calculus). However, sometimes this requirement can be circumvented, if the following additional criteria are met:
    • There must be other books on this list that cover all the prerequisite information.
    • When you suggest the book, list any prerequisites.
    • There shouldn't be more than 2 or 3 prerequisites.
Textbooks are actually ok, as long as they meet all the above criteria.

I'm going to start off by also requiring the following, as per lukeprog. But if people prefer I might relax these:
  1. Post the title of your favorite book on a given subject.
  2. You must have read at least two other books on that same subject.
  3. You must briefly name the other books you've read on the subject and explain why you think your chosen book is superior to them.
ETA: If you really liked a book but didn't read alternatives, an easy way to fulfill these extra requirements is to look at reviews at Amazon, Goodreads, or similar. Usually you can find reviews that compare the book to one or more alternatives.

Finally, the purpose of this list is to try to be as comprehensive as possible. Copying books that have already been recommended on other lists is therefore to be encouraged, even if you yourself haven't read those books.

ETA 2: It seems everybody has their own ideas about what should be the criteria for this list. So how about everybody just add in books using whatever criteria they would prefer for a list of "The Best Popular Books on Every Subject".
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