These are some of my favorite nonfiction works
divided up into Books and Essays.
- Claude Allegre The Behavior of the Earth:
Continental and Seafloor Mobility. In my opinion,
the best lay introduction to plate tectonics.
- Harold J. Berman Law and Revolution: The
Formation of the Western Legal Tradition.
- Wayne C. Booth The Rhetoric of Fiction.
- Daniel R. Brooks and E. O. Wiley Evolution as
Entropy: Toward a Unified Theory of Biology.
- Noël Carroll The Philosophy of Horror, or;
Paradoxes of the Heart. A no nonsense approach to
the philosophy of horror that covers fiction and film.
His other works on philosophy of film are also worth
reading, such as the essay collection Engaging the
- Michael W. Doyle Empires. A great book on
the subject of empires and imperialism. Doyle is critical
of ideological theories of empire for their provinciality
and uses a lot of historical evidence to back his claims.
- John Earman World Enough and Space-Time:
Absolute versus Relational Theories of Space and Time.
Great and balanced coverage of this topic. Earman goes
over many possible types of spacetime in an attempt to
focus the debate.
- Paul Fussell Poetic Meter and Poetic Form.
A great introduction to prosody, sprinkled with many
- John Gardner The Art of Fiction. An
informal book on writing with many exercises as well as
suggestions for reading. (Writers should read great works
as well as attempt to write them.)
- Andrew M. Gleason The Fundamentals of Abstract
Analysis. A painless introduction to the subject.
Easy to understand with many exercises.
- Peter Hopkirk The Great Game: The Struggle for
Empire in Central Asia. History that reads like good
- Hans-Hermann Hoppe DemocracyThe God that
Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy,
Democracy, and Natural Order. Brilliant work that
argues democracy is one of the worst forms of government.
While I disagree with some of Hoppe's views
especially his cultural conservatism I find the
rest of his work cogent. One problem with the book,
though, is that it's a collection of independent essays,
so there's lots of repetition.
and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective.
- Walter Kaufmann Tragedy and Philosophy.
Breathtaking in scope and scholarship.
- Henry Tompkins Kirby-Smith
The Origins of Free Verse. Witty and eye
opening. This should be a must read for anyone who
believes free verse started with Walt Whitman.
- Philip Kitcher The Nature of Mathematical
Knowledge. Puts forth the minority view that
mathematics is ultimately empirical.
- Morris Kline Mathematics: The Loss of
Certainty and Mathematical Thought from Ancient
to Modern Times. The latter is a three volume set
that's a must for anyone who is serious about the history
of math. Sadly, it does not cover the 20th century all
that much. What I'd love to see is a comprehensive
history of mathematics that covers all of the 20th
century, especially what came after the debates of the
- Ludwig M. Lachmann Capital and Its Structure. Great
book on [economic] capital theory, introducing Lachmann's
notion of heterogeneity in capital. he treats capital as
a changing structure rather than blobs of some
homogeneous economic substance. Also, very easy to read.
- Mark A. S. McMenamin and Dianna L. Schulte McMenamin
The Emergence of Animals: The Cambrian
Breakthrough. The McMenamins examine perhaps the
most important evolutionary event next to the beginning
of life itself.
- Penelope Maddy Realism in Mathematics and
Naturalism in Mathematics. I don't agree with
her on many issues, but she's eloquent and, in the latter
book, she's managed to admit many faults in the former.
- John J. Mearsheimer The Tragedy of Great Power
- Bert Mendelson Introduction to Topology.
Brief (a little over 200 pages with index) and no
nonsense introduction to point set topology. Also,
readily available in an inexpensive Dover edition.
- Martha C. Nussbaum The Fragility of Goodness:
Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy.
Nussbaum is one of my favorite living philosophers.
- Stephen Pollard Philosophical Introduction to
Set Theory. A bit biased, but witty and informative.
- Graham Priest An Introduction to Non-Classical
Logic. Great primer on non-classical propositional
logics, such as many-valued logics and fuzzy logic.
- Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden The Virtue of
Selfishness. A collection of essays by Rand and
Branden on metaethics and ethics. I think they should be
- Rudy Rucker Infinity and the Mind.
Introduction to infinity that is nearly comprhensive in
its coverage of the topic, from arithmetic to computing
- Chris Sciabarra Total Freedom: Toward a
Dialectical Libertarianism. The detailed treatment
of dialectics alone makes this a great book, but add to
that his analysis of libertarianism specifically the
system of Murray N. Rothbard.
- Paul Seabury and Angelo Codevilla
War: Ends and Means. Great book that everyone
- Lawrence Sklar Space, Time, and Spacetime.
Set the stage for later debates in the field of spacetime
- Paul Thagard Conceptual
Revolutions (see my review
of this one) and How Scientists Explain Disease.
- Helen H. Vendler The Art of Shakespeare's
Sonnets. A sonnet by sonnet analysis of these great
works. This format allows the reader to focus on her or
his favorite sonnets.
- J. R. Waldram The Theory of Thermodynamics.
Starts with quantum mechanics! The way thermodynamics, in
my opinion, should be taught.
- Stephen M. Walt The Origins of Alliances.
Walt uses the Middle East after World War Two to build a
theory of how nations ally. Good stuff for students of
foreign affairs, especially since Walt uses the data to
attack certain assumptions about international relations.
- Kenyon Cox "What is
Painting?" in his What is Painting?
"Winslow Homer" and Other Essays. A great
essay written by a painter and art critic who should be
more well known.
- Richard Hugo "Writing off the Subject"
in his The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on
Poetry and Writing. A great essay on how the subject
should be handled in poetry. It should be applied by all
artists to their respective arts.
- Randall L. Schweller "Bandwagoning for
Profit: Bringing the Revisionist State Back In" in International Security 19(1)
[Summer 1994]. Eye opening essay on how some nation
states do not act for security but more for power. This
explains the behvior of nations that risk security for
increasing power, even if such behavior is usually short
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