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Updated by Sean Hampton-Cole on Nov 22, 2014
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Best Books For Smart Young People

1984: George Orwell

As literary political fiction, 1984 is considered a classic novel of the social science fiction subgenre. Since its publication in 1949, many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and Memory hole, have become contemporary vernacular. In addition, the novel popularised the adjective Orwellian, which refers to lies, surveillance, and manipulation of the past in the service of a totalitarian agenda. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked 1984 13th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. 

A Short History Of Nearly Everything: Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveler: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us.

The Magic of Reality: How we know what's really true -Richard Dawkins

Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods' bridge to earth. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality - science.

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition & Other Confusions of Our Time: Michael Shermer

In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, New Age hokum, and alien abduction. A no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, with more than 80,000 copies in print, Why People Believe Weird Things debunks these nonsensical claims and explores the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing. In an entirely new chapter, "Why Smart People Believe in Weird Things," Michael Shermer takes on science luminaries like physicist Frank Tippler and others, who hide their spiritual beliefs behind the trappings of science.

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments: Ali Almossawi, Alejandro Giraldo

“A flawless compendium of flaws.” —Alice Roberts, PhD, anatomist, writer, and presenter of The Incredible Human Journey

The antidote to fuzzy thinking, with furry animals!

Outliers: The Story of Success - Malcolm Gladwell

From the bestselling author of Blink and The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success overturns conventional wisdom about genius to show us what makes an ordinary person an extreme overachiever.

The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods - Julian Baggini

The second edition of this popular compendium provides the necessary intellectual equipment to engage with and participate in effective philosophical argument, reading, and reflection.

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal.

The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time: Douglas Adams

Here is Douglas Adams's indispensable guide to life, the universe and everything. This sublime collection dips into the wit and wisdom of the man behind THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, uncovering his unique comic musings on everything from his school-trousers to malt whisky and from the letter Y through to his own nose, via atheism, hangovers and fried eggs. Including short stories and a lengthy unpublished Dirk Gently extract, THE SALMON OF DOUBT is for fans and new readers alike. These hilarious collected writings reveal the warmth, enthusiasm and ferocious intelligence behind this most English of comic writers; a man who was virtually an unofficial member of the Monty Python team.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife: Mary Roach

"What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers.