How the Leopard Changed Its Spots: The Evolution of Complexity by Brian Goodwin. Pretty interesting book about evolutionary biology. Comes from the structuralist persuasion that I'm generally partial to. This book is wildly unpopular among the mainstream Anglo-American scientific community because most people seem to think he's trying to refute evolution or something. He's doing nothing of the sort. He's refuting genocentrism. Not genetics, not the fact that genes are important, but the idea that they do everything. He's not the greatest writer, so he doesn't express the overarching points of his examples all that well and sometimes sounds like a broken record repeating the same phrases, but he's obviously a smart and forward-thinking mathematician and biologist and I generally think that the individual examples he provides all have merit. He essentially argues that interactions with the environment shape the structure of organisms in a hand-in-hand relationship with genetics. This falls flat beyond single-celled organisms or developmental stages of more complex organisms, because beyond that point, from the perspective of the molecules responsible for altering the structure, the organism is the environment, but then again he doesn't really ever try to say that adult complex organisms can grow thick fur coats just because it's cold or something. While I'm not familiar with Goodwin's other work, it seems to me like he's been misinterpreted because (a) his writing style sometimes lacks clarity, and (b) modern-day biologists just like to kiss Dawkins' ass because genocentrism is neat and tidy and reductive.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Yep. I haven't read it since I was 11 and realized that my memory on the details of the story was foggy. I didn't even remember what Tolkien's style was like. I rather enjoy his casual, children-friendly tone in this book.
The CIA World Factbook. OK, I'm not reading the whole thing cover to cover, but I know so many random and useless facts about countries that I figured it was high time to flesh them out with a bit of useful information. It's better organized and more concise than Wikipedia, so I think I'll retain more information than if I were just to try to make myself smarter by Wiki-surfing.
Last edited by XYlophonetreeZ; 03-20-2012 at 11:20 AM.
My previous signature was getting old. This is my new one.