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This week’s topic is so perfect for me! Top Ten Books That Make You Think, and since I’m a huge classic sci-fi fan, I have so many to choose from :D. I might throw in some non-fiction as well, simply because it obviously makes you think and there are some really important non-fiction books out there. Also these are in the order that I thought of them, and nothing more.
- To Sail Beyond the Sunset by Robert Heinlein – Robert Heinlein is my favorite author, and To Sail Beyond the Sunset is actually my favorite book. I realize I’ve never reviewed it here, and I think it’s because I want it to be the best review I’ve ever written, which obviously makes it hard to start writing it…. In any case, this book is about Maureen Johnson’s life and makes (I think) some very convincing arguments against our society’s views on sex, sex-education and marriage.
- The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers – I received this book as a giveaway prize and wasn’t completely sure what I was getting into. Jessie Lamb’s life takes place in a near-future dystopia where pregnancy has become 100% fatal. It has warnings about biological warfare and terrorism and questions about how far society and individual teenagers should be allowed to go for the future of the human species.
- Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond – Look, a non-fiction! The inequalities in today’s world are obviously caused by various major events in human history, including European colonization of large parts of the world. The question then is how did Europe get so advanced in technology (guns, germs and steel) before the other parts of the world. It’s not because of some innate superiority, I promise, it’s because of a combination of how the continents are laid out on the globe, the wild plants and animals that live in the various parts of the world and how those factors combined. If you just want the info fast, feel free to go for the abridged version, but I honestly think everyone should read/listen to what this book has to say.
- His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman – Is it cheating to do a trilogy all together? It better not be, since the first book and most of the second of His Dark Materials don’t make you think, but wow the third sure does. The third book in this trilogy questions the Christian-inspired religion of the worlds in a major way, to the point that it got banned from many libraries apparently. I know a lot of people didn’t like it, but I found it refreshing and captivating to be honest.
- Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert Heinlein – As I said, Heinlein is my favorite author, so there are bound to be a few of his books on this list given his writing style. In Job Heinlein plays with the biblical story of Job to call into question the Christian ideas of God and the Devil. It’s fairly run of the mill until the very end, but then it starts positing all sorts of wonderful ideas that really sold the book for me. Once again, though, I’m sure it’s been banned from a few libraries for it’s religious implications.
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein – No list by a Heinlein fan would be complete without Stranger in a Strange Land, which is probably one of Heinlein’s best known works. It tackles one of Heinlein’s favorite themes: free love. In addition, it plays with one of humanity’s deepest taboos: cannibalism. I also really dislike how many people use the word “grok” without having read the book, since it gives a word to the deep and fundamental understanding that we seek to gain with our closest friends, though often it is used in a much shallower sense in our culture now :(. Don’t use it that way! ;-) Seriously, though, after finishing this book I sat back on my deck chair and just stared off and thought for a while because my brain felt so crazy.
- The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein – I’m sorry, I really am, but Heinlein wrote so much thought-provoking sci-fi! I just can’t help it! The Number of the Beast is more classic though, since it details the adventures through dimensions and there is a fair amount of math that I didn’t completely understand. It’s really fun for book lovers though, since it explains that if the multiverse is infinite, then every book that’s ever been written must have really happened in one of them :D. I’m going to Pern as soon as the dimension traveling ship is invented!!
- Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult – Really most of Picoult’s writing is meant to make you think, but I thought that Salem Falls brought up a really important issue that a lot of people forget about: false rape accusations. Because rape is such a horrible crime and even just an accusation that is proven false sticks in people’s minds, it can be used by truly vicious people to falsely accuse and thereby destroy another person’s life. These false accusations also then undermine future rape cases that are not false because people start to doubt all victims. I had never thought about all of this before reading Salem Falls, and am really glad that I was exposed to those realizations.
- The Three-Pound Enigma by Shannon Moffett – There was a time in my life when I wanted to study neuroscience, and this book didn’t help that obsession! The human brain is sooooo cool, and Moffett surveys several of the biggest questions we have about it, including some of the diseases and injury cases that give us special insight into those questions. If you think brains are cool (or if for some crazy reason you don’t but want to be convinced), read this book. So cool!!! *goes off to switch grad departments…* (just kidding, no way could I hand neurology!)
- Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky – One more non-fiction! Wow, I’m really digging back into my past books here. After The Three-Pound Enigma, I really wanted to read more non-fiction and borrowed this book from a colleague of my mom’s. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers is all about stress responses in humans and other animals and is really interesting. Unfortunately, reading about the horrors that stress will wreak on your body is a bit stressful (haha), but it was still fun to learn about the craziness that is the human stress reaction and how doomed I am being a grad student.
That was super fun remembering all the books I’ve read in the past many years that made me think. I really enjoy thinking books, both fiction and non-fiction and really believe that good classic sci-fi should make you think. That being said, I would love to see your Top Ten Tuesday because I neeeeed more thinking books!
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