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Rafiki has generated two books, neither of which have been published, but they are available here FREE

Rafiki is now an associate book seller of Amazon.com. Rafiki receives a small percentage of each purchase from Amazon.com when a link from this site leads to a purchase. Every little bit helps pay the bills, and your click-throughs are appreciated.

This is a general-interest list of enjoyable and useful books. Many of the categories overlap, but the following quick jumps are somewhat helpful.

Rafiki Books
Evolution and Biology
Complexity, Emergence and Networks
Math and Geometry
Information Theory & Codes
Toys and Business

Evolution and Biology
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Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Evolution and the Meanings of LIfe

by Daniel Dennett

One of my favorite books. It provides a fabulous perspective on the mechanisms of evolution and natural selection

Who Wrote the Book of Life?
A History of the Genetic Code

by Lily E. Kay

This is an excellent account of the genetic code, and it convincingly calls into question the validity of the dogmatic descriptions of the code today. A must read for anyone interested in the genetic code.

What is Life?
with Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches

by Erwin Schrödinger

A classic that holds up after 65 years. Erwin was ahead of some of the thinking today!

Seven Clues to the Origin of Life?

by A. G. Cairns-Smith

Whether or not you believe his conclusions, Cairns-Smith makes some excellent points about how to intellectually approach the question of the origin of life. A short book and a fast read. The take-home message is that organic molecules did not start out as organic molecules.

The Selfish Gene

by Richard Dawkins

A staple of contemporary thinking on evolution.

Ontogeny and Phylogeny

by Stephen Jay Gould

I must include at least one title from America's most prolific writer on evolution theory, especially in this the year of his death. This is probably not the first title that comes to one's mind when thinking of Gould, but I like it and find it useful. It's not really a general interest book, a little more technical, but I'm currently reading it again.

The Double Helix
A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

by James D. Watson
Nobel Prize Winner (that is on the book)

This is an entertaining look at "the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century." It certainly provides some context for the theories that emerged from the 50s and 60s.

Genes, Girls, and Gamow
After the Double Helix

by James D. Watson

A follow-up to 'The Double Helix'. An interesting look back to a scientific era long gone.

Complexity, Emergence and Networks
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The Emergence of Everything
How the World Became Complex

by Harold J. Morowitz

Dr. Morowitz is a fine science writer and a heckuv a nice guy. He does a nice job of explaining how complexity arises from layers of emerging phenomena, starting with the birth of the universe.

The Computational Beauty of Nature
Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos, Complex Systems, and Adaptation

by Gary William Flake

A long title, but it fairly summarizes the book. Anyone interested in computers and nature will enjoy this.

From Chaos to Order

by John H. Holland

A pioneer of computer techniques under the general umbrella of 'the genetic algorithm.' A good book to help understand emergence and machine learning.

The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos

by Mitchell Waldrop

This is a non-technical account of the early days of complexity theory as a science. It paints an interesting picture of the people behind the Santa Fe Institute at the forefront of this field. A must read for anyone thinking of getting into these areas.

The New Science of Networks

by Alberto-Laszlo Barabasi

A good book to get a general feel for the properties of network structures that underpin many natural and manmade processes.

Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks

by Mark Buchanan

A slightly more accessible alternative to 'Linked'.

Math and Geometry
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The Golden Ratio
The Story of Phi, the World's Most Astonishing Number

by Mario Livio

There are many books about the golden mean, and this is a good, recent book. Hopefully, the next edition will mention the genetic code and its relationship with phi.

A New Kind of Science

by Stephen Wolfram

I have always loved to watch and contemplate cellular automata. Wolfram elevates their importance considerably. Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, it is worth the effort to review his considerable work.

The Self-Made Tapestry
Pattern Formation in Nature

by Philip Ball

In the spirit of D'Arcy Thompson's 'On Growth and Form'. Excellent illustrations.

The Geometry of Art and Life

by Matila Ghyka

A quick read that gives an introduction to geometrical properties that tend to show up in art and nature. Nice reference, but some conclusions are slightly stretched.

Toys and Business
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From Workshop to toystore

by Richard C. Levy, Ronald O. Weingartner

Out of print, but you can still get it used. Very helpful for creating a picture of what one is up against when inventing a new toy. Who hasn't invented a new toy? What will be the next big thing? I can tell you from experience that the product idea is just the first 1% of the journey. This book is helpful in trying to figure out the other 99%.

Game Over Press Start to Continue
The Maturing of Mario

by David Sheff

An engaging book about the Nintendo dynasty. It is fascinating to hear how Nintendo ignored the market dogma about home video systems in the vacuum left by Atari's collapse, and they eventually became so powerful that congress felt the need to step in. Stranger than fiction.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

by Stephen Covey

Everyone should read at least one self-help book, especially anyone struggling to start a business, and this is probably the best. It actually is helpful.

Patent it Yourself

by David Pressman

There is no substitute for a good patent attorney, but it is a good idea to have some understanding of intellectual property before you meet with one. You will save time and money, and end up with a better patent.

Made in America

by Sam Walton with John Huey

You can say what you want about Wal-Mart, but there is no doubt that Sam Walton was good at what he did. It is always nice when successful people will share their experience with us mortals.

Information Theory & Codes
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An Introduction to Information Theory
Symbols, Signals and Noise

by John R. Pierce

An easy to understand introduction, first published in 1961. A good place to start.

The Bit and the Pendulum
From Quantum Computing to M Theory - The New Physics of Information

by Tom Siegfried

An easy to read book about the role information theory is playing in modern physics. Tom is a Science editor at the Dallas Morning News, so he must be busy, but he is nice enough to respond to pesky emails from scientific heretics.

The Organic Codes
An Introduction to Semantic Biology

by Marcello Barbieri

I don't agree with everything in this book, but I love the perspective that biology has much more information, in more complex forms, and many more formal codes than the anemic amount we traditionally recognize.

The Code Book
The Science of Secrecy From Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography

by Simon Singh

A good overview of how codes work, with lots of historical nuggets.

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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

by Thomas S. Kuhn

A classic on philosophy of science, first published in 1962. Amazon lists it as unavailable, but that will change after the avalanche of requests that pour from this website! Indespensible insight for anyone wishing to propose new ideas to working scientists stuck in dogma.

Godel, Escher, Bach:
an Eternal Golden Braid

by Douglas R. Hofstadter

A stylized and entertaining treatment of some difficult and thought provoking ideas.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Robert M. Pirsig


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Five Lessons

by Ben Hogan

If you are just starting, buy this book. If you've been playing a long time, buy this book.

Missing Links

by Rick Reilly

Learn important things about golf.

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Last updated September 10, 2003 3:41 AM