Choose your own setting - Lunar Brothel
ROW80 Round 2 objectives - and first day

Reading for creativity - a non-fiction book list

I'm building myself a non-fiction reading list.

I've always had catholic tastes (I love that phrase), been interested in a wide variety of subjects, following a variety of blogs and newsletters, easily distracted by sparkly things. Some might see that all as just showing a lack of focus and fear of commitment and/or failure, I prefer to see it as a healthy exploration of all the world has to offer.

I was encouraged when Chuck Wendig, in a post about 25 ways to more creativity, told us (#10) that reading more non-fiction is a good thing. Yes, reading fiction can show us examples of how to write, and should be part of a writer's day. However, the creative process itself - that quirky way we blend different ideas and cultures together, the examination of everyday life with a 'what-if' twist thrown in - that process needs something to be creative with. So it follows that the more ideas and concepts we throw into the jumble between our ears, the more we have to be creative with.

I've avoided non-fiction books in the past - too much work to read, no exciting chases and murders, no heaving bosoms of damsels in distress, no bug-eyed monsters or ray guns, etc etc. But a recent book idea, a 'what if' idea involving a change in very early First Nations culture, had me heading to non-fiction. I found a good resource to start with - Guns, Germs, and Steel - but will likley expand to more once I finish it. Time to expand my non-fiction universe. I subscribe to New Scientist and Smithsonian newsletters, and follow several speculative blogs, but have as one ROW80 objective to read from more non-fiction books each day.

Which brings me to this, my reading list. There are a lot of topics I'm already familiar with to some extent, but there many blanks that could be filled in. I had a number of dusty non-fiction on my shelves before I moved, the majority went to the Sally Anne, so I'll need to rebuild - selectively.

What are your recommendations for non-fiction? How do you select them? By dividing the world up like the Dewey Decimal System and choosing a "best of" for each field?  (Hmm - might be a start for categories.) Leave your recommendations in the comments please - Title, Author, category, a few words about it, why you rate it a 'best of'.  I'll see how it fits in my list, and keep my status on each one up to date. And add a review or two. Maybe accolades or deletions. All I ask is that the ones you suggest be fairly current, accurate, and at least a little entertaining. 

The list:

  • 000 – Computer science, information and general works
  • 100 – Philosophy and psychology
  • 200 – Religion
      • God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, by Christopher Hitchens. Recommended to me, but seems a little extreme. Looking for a survey of the worlds religions. 
  • 300 – Social sciences
    • 303 - social processes
      • Guns, Germs, and Steel (2005), by Jared Diamond (second edition). An examination of the development of civilizations around the world, their relative pace, why some got further than others. Looks at many facets. PBS did a DVD.  Has been criticized as too repetitive and glossing over some issues - second edition is 2/3 the length and tweaked. Just started edition one, second one on hold - I'll be reading it instead.
  • 400 – Language
  • 500 – Science (including mathematics)
    • 530 - physics
      • Warped Passages (2005), by Lisa Randall. Good introduction to early quantum physics, then on to discussion of string theory, branes, and multi-dimensional universes. Great for some of those sc-fi 'what-if' ideas. I got maybe 1/3 into this a few years ago, distracted, but is on my must-read list.
      • books by Stephen Hawking - Brief History of Time - went with the great purge when I moved
    • 569 - fossil mammalia - Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans, by Brian Fagan - recommended to me, might relate to Gubs, Germs, Steel
  • 600 – Technology and applied science
  • 700 – Arts and recreation
    • 720 - architecture
      • A Pattern Language (1997), by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein. A description of how to design spaces - homes, towns, cities - that are more "human". Starts with basic examination of why and how we use spaces, to encourage more creative solutions. Have browsed this maybe 10 years ago - liked it then, will do a proper read now.
  • 800 – Literature
  • 900 – History and geography
    • 941 - General History of Europe - British Isles
      • Restoration London: Everyday Life In The 1660s, by Liza Picard. Recommended as being a very detailed account of life then, so good if that's specific novel setting. 





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