A Skeptical Required Reading List – In Graphic Form

Here’s my skeptical reading list! It’s even available on a Token Skeptic shirt!

This is with many thanks to Catherine, of Faster Pussycat Productions.

The last time I caught up with Warren of Embiggen Books in Melbourne for a podcast, we ended up doing a tremendous discussion on Great Books In Skepticism – Podblack’s Book Club With Embiggen Books, with the following recommendations:

And with that announcement, expect to see me and members of the Young Australian Skeptics at Embiggen Books on Saturday, 3rd March. More details as I confirm what we’re doing… but I suspect it’ll be a book-launch!
However, I do have a extended booklist, which does need a little updating… feel free to suggest new entries that I’ll post on this site.

  • Dan Barker - Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics (ages 6 and up)
  • Bill Nye’s books
  • Dr Karl Kruszelnicki’s books – all ages
  • Ray Spangenburg and Kit Moser’s books
  • Dr Stephen and Lucy Hawking - “George’s Secret Key to the Universe”
  • Ellen Jackson - The Tree of Life : The Wonders of Evolution by Ellen Jackson (4-8 yrs)
  • Diane Swanson - Nibbling on Einstein’s Brain: The Good, the Bad and the Bogus in Science (ages 9-12); Turn it Loose – The Scientist in Absolutely Everybody (ages 7 to 12).
  • John Gribbin - Dazzling Discoveries (ages 10-12).
  • Lynne Kelly - The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal (ages 10-15).
  • Tim Yule and Keith Baxter - Sasquatches from Outer Space : Exploring the Weirdest Mysteries Ever (ages 9-13).
  • Philip J Klass - Bringing UFOs Down to Earth (ages 9-12).
  • Joe Nickell - Wonder-Workers! How They Perform the Impossible by Joe Nickell (ages 9-14); The Real Life X-Files and its sequel(ages 10-12).

Older Readers (Aged 12 and up):

  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan (ages 15 and up)
  • Hyman Ruchlis How Do You Know It’s True? : Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition (ages 12-15).
  • Math Doesn’t Suck by Danica McKellar – ages 10 – 18.
  • ‘Games’ by Robin Klein – a novel – ages 10-15.
  • Contact by Carl Sagan – a novel – ages 15 – 18.
  • ‘Zara’ by Mary Hooper – a novel – ages 10 – 15.
  • ‘Avenging Janie’ by Lynne Kelly – a novel – ages 14 – 17.
  • Abracadabra! : Secret Methods Magicians & Others Use to Deceive Their Audience by Nathaniel Schiffman – ages 10-13.
  • The Physics of the Buffyverse and Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales of Pure Genius and Mad Science by Jennifer Ouellette – ages 14-18.
  • Straight Dope – The Books by Cecil Adams – ages 14-16.
  • How to Fossilise Your Hamster and Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze by Mick O’Hare – ages 14 – 17.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - a novel – ages 14-17.
  • Kaz Cooke - Girl Stuff: Your Full On Guide to the Teen Years.
  • Daniell, Ellen - Every Other Thursday: Stories and Strategies from Successful Women Scientists. Yale University Press, US. 2006.
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green - a novel – ages 14-17.

New To Skepticism? Building Up Your Skeptic Library? Consider the following as useful texts for either yourself or for others who question:

  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan
  • The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific Appraisal of Psychical Research by Ray Hyman
  • Missing Pieces: How to Investigate Ghosts, UFOs, Psychics, and Other Mysteries by Robert Baker and Joe Nickell
  • The Triumph of Evolution (and the Failure of Creationism) by Niles Eldredge
  • The Ancestor’s Tale : A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science by Martin Gardner
  • The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould by Stephen Jay Gould
  • The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal by Lynne Kelly
  • The Psychic Mafia by M. Lamar Keene
  • Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles McKay
  • Case Closed by Gerald Posner
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) by Richard Feynman
  • Crime Science: Methods of Forensic Detection by Joe Nickell and John F. Fischer
  • Science : Good, Bad and Bogus by Martin Gardner
  • How We Know What Isn’t So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich
  • The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens
  • Psychic Sleuths and Secrets of the Supernatural by Joe Nickell and John Fischer
  • Pseudoscience and the Paranormal by Terrence Hines
  • Bad Astronomy : Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing “Hoax” by Phil Plait
  • Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions by James Randi
  • An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural by James Randi and Arthur C. Clarke
  • Stiff : The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  • Spook : Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
  • Them : Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson
  • The Men Who Stared At Goats by Jon Ronson
  • A Physicist’s Guide to Skepticism: Applying Laws of Physics to Faster-Than-Light Travel, Psychic Phenomena, Telepathy, Time Travel, UFOs, and Other Pseudoscientific Claims by Milton Rothman
  • UFO’s : A Scientific Debate edited by Carl Sagan and Thornton Page
  • Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless by Steve Salerno
  • Why Darwin Matters : The Case Against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer
  • Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer
  • Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution : Modern Physics for Non-Scientists by Richard Wolfson
  • Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman
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  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    There are some very good books in these lists. However I notice one area that’s not covered–goddism. I’ll try to remedy that lack:

    Richard Dawkins The God Delusion
    Christopher Hitchens God Is Not Great and The Portable Atheist
    Sam Harris The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
    George H. Smith Atheism: The Case Against God

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Yes, that’s because I’m trying to keep it more to science/skepticism than atheism? I should make an atheism list, but wanted to focus on the science aspect in this case. And since I’ll be one the MCs introducing Harris, Dawkins, et al, I certainly don’t disparage their contribution to their fields!

      • http://www.twitter.com/andypic Andy Pickering

        I’d still argue that Dawkins’s “The Selfish Gene” and/or “Unweaving the Rainbow” are worthy of inclusion for a science/skeptics point of view. I’m probably just being nit-picky though: it’s a great list! Nice work… :-)

  • Andrew

    Thanks Kylie, this is a great resource for me as I struggle sometimes to find the genuine Science/Skeptic type books and end up with books dressed up with all the Science/Skeptic type words and end up being about energy,spirits,quantum,woo,BS, etc etc at least these titles will help me to become a better critical thinking person, that would be good!!!
    I promised Warren (embiggen) via Twitter that I’d be in to buy Aust. Book of Atheism at some stage, I may have to pop in around the 3rd March and say hello.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      BRILLIANT!

  • http://undeniably-atheist.blogspot.com/ shreddakj

    Hey Kylie thanks for stopping by my blog and posting the link here. I’m always on the lookout for good books to read and you seem to have compiled a pretty good list.

    P.S. Thanks for coming to the NZ Skeptics conference, I really enjoyed your talk.

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Not a worry – hope you enjoy the most recent episode of the podcast!

  • Richard Cornford

    Catching up on old episodes of the “Meet The Skeptics” podcast last week I heard Milton Mermikides’ interview, where he credited Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid as setting him off on the road to skepticism. It was also the book that got me thinking, or rather thinking usefully, in my early 20′s. Rapidly killing off my remaining ‘woo’ notions.

    It is not a book about any particular “skeptical” subject. Its Wikipedia page includes:-

    Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to acquire meaning despite being made of “meaningless” elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of “meaning” itself.

    Which isn’t a bad description but could not cover either the humor to be found in the book, or properly express the depth with which some of its subjects are addressed. For example, by about half way through the book the reader stands a good chance of understanding Kurt Godel’s “incompleteness theorem” (or at least thinking that they do, which is probably as much as a non-mathematician can expect).

    Unfortunately it is not an easy book to read by any means. One of the reviews on the back covers describes it as “a workout in the finest mental gymnasium in town”, and they were not kidding. To date I have leant copies of “Gödel, Escher, Bach” to about 20 people, only four of whom have managed to finish it and return their copies.

  • Andrea

    I was surprised your children’s book list did not include Richard Dawkin’s The Magic of Reality

    • Kylie Sturgess

      At the time of writing the original list, the book wasn’t published? But feel free to suggest it and others!