Even more enlightening than Machiavelli’s The Prince, this book describes power takeovers and social organizations in a chimpanzee colony and argues that power politics is part of the evolutionary heritage that we share with our closest nonhuman relatives. I’ll never look at academic or corporate politics the same way, and I understand their machinations much better for having read this book. Chimps, unlike humans, do not cloak their political pretenses in rhetoric, so we can see more clearly the process at work and thereby learn much about ourselves.
What bird watchers enjoy, second only to watching birds, is to read books about watching birds. My favourites here begin with this remarkable book, which tells you, in masterfully condensed form, what is interesting about each species – how it breeds, displays, nests, eats and much else.
Originally written in 1978, and updated in 2003, this is the best book I’ve read on the role of luck, chance, and serendipity in medical research – or, for that matter, any creative endeavour. And because the author’s a neurologist, he has a grounding in how the brain actually exerts itself creatively.
We cannot understand our complex world without grasping the basic elements of evolutionary theory. All of Gould’s books on evolution and natural history are superb, but Panda’s Thumb is my favourite and is a good place to start.
I really enjoyed this book. I read a lot of history and science books, but this stood out because 1) the anecdotes were entertaining and relevant, and 2) it got the process of innovation right. Highly Recommended.
Sonia Arrison’s ‘100 Plus’ was first published in 2011, but its message is evergreen: how scientists are directly attacking the problem of aging and death and why we should fight for life instead of accepting decay as inevitable. The goal of longer life doesn’t just mean more years at the margin; it means a healthier old age. There is nothing to fear but our own complacency.
I never thought I’d become a doctor / writer. I read Lewis Thomas’s ‘Lives of a Cell’ as an undergraduate and was completely captivated by Thomas’s way of thinking in completely literary terms about science.
It is really, really good if you want a primer on structural design.