Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Must read List

During a Reddit AMA with Neil deGrasse Tyson a Redditor asked, “Which books should be read by every single intelligent person on the planet?” Below is a list of books he provided in his response along with his reason for choosing it.

1. The Bible – “to learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”
2. The System of the World by Isaac Newton – “to learn that the universe is a knowable place.”
3. On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – “to learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”
4. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift – “to learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”
5. The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine – “to learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”
6. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith – “to learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”
7. The Art of War by Sun Tsu – “to learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
8. The Prince by Machiavelli – “to learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson goes on to say, “If you read all of the above works you will glean profound insight into most of what has driven the history of the western world.”

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2011

It’s Banned Books Week again. This year is the 30th anniversary. Since 2009 I have listed the top 10 most challenged books of the year on my blog. This year is no different – the books are listed below with links to Amazon for your purchasing pleasure. With over 326 formal challenges, as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, book banning efforts were alive and well in 2011.

I have also posted top 10 lists for the years 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.


  1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence
  4. My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler
    Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; religious viewpoint
  7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit
  8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: nudity; offensive language; sexually explicit
  9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar
    Reasons: drugs; offensive language; sexually explicit
  10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
    Reasons: offensive language; racism

A Timeline Of Future Science Fiction Events

Below is a list of predictions made by speculative science fiction authors both past and present. Also listed is the novel or short story in which the prediction was made, as well as the year it was published.

Notably, the list puts the Hunger Games in the year 2108 and robot cats finally make an appearance in 2966. My favorite entry by far is the year 2107 when “Everyone blogs about themselves, all day, without shame: ‘only perverts do things in private.'”
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The Sound And The Fury

The Color, The Sound, And The Fury

The Sound And The FuryImage courtesy of The Folio Society
“The Sound And The Fury” is acknowledged as one of the masterpieces of 20th-century. It is also one of William Faulkner’s most difficult books. It is told from multiple points of view and the narrative jumps across multiple time frames with little indication of doing so. It is confusing enough that, according to the LA Times, Faulkner wanted to color code the book:

But when Faulkner was working on the book in the 1920s — “The Sound and the Fury” was published in 1929 — he imagined a way to make the section clearer to readers. “I wish publishing was advanced enough to use colored ink,” Faulkner wrote to his editor, “as I argued with you and Hal in the Speakeasy that day… I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up,” he added, inadvertently launching a challenge to future publishers.

Today the Folio Society has published the book the way that Faulkner always wanted. Unfortunately, it is only a limited run of 1,480 copies that will cost you $345.00 a pop.


Books That Every Artist Should Own

After consulting with fellow artists, professors, historians and college syllabi, ARTINFO has put together this list of books all artists should own. With an eye toward a balance of theory, history, reference, and practical guides this list includes over 22 books covering a multitude of subjects surrounding art.

Hansel & Gretel & Krug

I knew the Brothers Grimm were grim, but I didn’t know how grim. I recently read in Steve Krug’s book “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” that,

In the original story, H & G’s stepmother persuades their father to lose them in the forest during lean times so the whole family won’t have to starve. The suspicious and resourceful H spoils the plot by dropping pebbles on the way in and following them home. But the next time(!) H is forced to use breadcrumbs instead which prove to be a less-than –suitable substitute since birds eat them before H & G can retrace their steps. Eventually the tale devolves into attempted cannibalism, grand larceny, and immolation, but basically it’s a story about how unpleasant it is to be lost.

Wow. those are some heavy topics for a fairy tale. If your interested, many of the Grimm Brother’s collected stories can be found at Project Gutenberg

All My Friends Are Still Dead

All My Friends Are Still Dead

All My Friends Are Still Dead” is the new sequel to the humorous “All My Friends Are Dead“, that has been mentioned on this blog a couple of times before. The book is an, “illustrated compendium of the humorous existential ruminations of people, animals, legendary monsters, and inanimate objects.” I’m sold and if all your friends are dead too, then maybe you should just buy one for yourself.

All My Friends Are Still Dead

Also, Co-author Avery Monsen has a tumblr.

Top 100 Best Children’s Books

Scholastic’s Parent & Child Magazine released a list of what they thought were the best children’s books. You can see the list in an easily sortable table below. Links to for each book are also provided.

Top 100 Children's Books

RankTitleAuthorAge RangeCategory
1Charlotte's WebE.B. White8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
2Goodnight MoonMargaret Wise Brown0-3Animal Characters
3A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)Madeleine L’Engle11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
4The Snowy DayEzra Jacks Keats4-7Realistic Fiction
5Where the Wild Things AreMaurice Sendak0-3Fantasy / Science Fiction
6Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)J.K. Rowling11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
7Green Eggs and HamDr. Seuss4-7Fantasy / Science Fiction
8The Diary of a Young GirlAnne Frank11+Non-Fiction / Informational
9The Giving TreeShel Silverstein4-7Traditional / Poetry
10Frog and Toad Are FriendsArnold Lobel8-10Animal Characters
11Anne of Green GablesL.M. Montgomery11+Realistic Fiction
12The Very Hungry CaterpillarEric Carle0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
13MadelineLudwig Bemelmans4-7Realistic Fiction
14The Wind in the WillowsKenneth Grahame8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
15The DotPeter H. Reynolds4-7Realistic Fiction
16Tuck EverlastingNatalie Babbitt11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
17Pat the BunnyDorothy Kunhardt0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
18When Marian SangPam Munoz Ryan8-10Non-Fiction / Informational
19Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary TaleMo Willems0-3Realistic Fiction
20Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and DrawingsShel Silverstein8-10Traditional / Poetry
21Bud, Not BuddyChristopher Paul Curtis11+Realistic Fiction
22CorduroyDon Freeman0-3Fantasy / Science Fiction
23The Phantom TollboothNorton Juster8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
24The Little Engine That CouldWatty Piper4-7Fantasy / Science Fiction
25The GiverLois Lowry11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
26Where the Mountain Meets the MoonGrace Lin8-10Traditional / Poetry
27Black on WhiteTana Hoban0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
28Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!Mo Willems4-7Fantasy / Science Fiction
29Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.Judy Blume11+Realistic Fiction
30My Rotten Redheaded Older BrotherPatricia Polacco8-10Realistic Fiction
31The MittenJan Brett4-7Traditional / Poetry
32The Runaway BunnyMargaret Wise Brown0-3Animal Characters
33The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
34SwimmyLeo Lionni4-7Animal Characters
35Freight TrainDonald Crews0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
36The Secret GardenFrances Hodgson Burnett8-10Realistic Fiction
37The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry BearDon & Audrey Wood4-7Animal Characters
38Diary of a Wimpy KidJeff Kinney11+Realistic Fiction
39Zen ShortsJohn J. Muth8-10Traditional / Poetry
40Moo Baa La La LaSandra Boynton0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
41MatildaRoald Dahl8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
42What Do People Do All DayRichard Scarry4-7Non-Fiction / Informational
43The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeC.S. Lewis11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
44Good Night, GorillaPeggy Rathmann0-3Fantasy / Science Fiction
45The CompositionAntonio Skarmeta8-10Realistic Fiction
46Not a BoxAntoinette Portis4-7Animal Characters
47Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
48HatchetGary Paulsen11+Realistic Fiction
49Martin's Big WordsDoreen Rappaport4-7Non-Fiction / Informational
50Sarah, Plain and TallPatricia Mac-Lachlan8-10Realistic Fiction
51Sylvia Long's Mother GooseSylvia Long0-3Traditional / Poetry
52The Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning ThiefRick Riordan11+Traditional / Poetry
53The House at Pooh CornerA.A. Milne4-7Fantasy / Science Fiction
54Through My EyesRuby Bridges11+Non-Fiction / Informational
55Smile!Roberta Grobel Intrater0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
56Living SunlightMolly Bang & Penny Chisholm8-10Non-Fiction / Informational
57The Bad BeginningLemony Snicket11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
58Harvesting HopeKathleen Krull8-10Non-Fiction / Informational
59Dear JunoSoyung Pak4-7Realistic Fiction
60Head, Shoulders, Knees and ToesAnnie Kubler0-3Traditional / Poetry
61The Lion & the MouseJerry Pinkney4-7Traditional / Poetry
62Diary of a WormDoreen Cronin8-10Animal Characters
63The Invention of Hugo CabretBrian Selznick11+Realistic Fiction
64My Truck is Stuck!Kevin Lewis0-3Animal Characters
65BirdsKevin Henkes4-7Realistic Fiction
66The Maze Of BonesRick Riordan8-10Realistic Fiction
67Esperanza RisingPam Munoz Ryan11+Realistic Fiction
68Counting KissesKaren Katz0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
69The Magic School Bus At The WaterworksJoanna Cole8-10Non-Fiction / Informational
70BlackoutJohn Rocco4-7Realistic Fiction
71Bridge to TerabithiaKatherine Paterson11+Realistic Fiction
72Are You My Mother?P.D. Eastman0-3Animal Characters
73Tea with MilkAllen Say8-10Realistic Fiction
74Owl MoonJane Yolen4-7Realistic Fiction
75HolesLouis Sachar11+Realistic Fiction
76Peek-A Who?Nina Laden0-3Animal Characters
77Hi! Fly GuyTedd Arnold8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
78Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NimhRobert C. O’Brien11+Fantasy / Science Fiction
79Llama Llama Red PajamaAnna Dewdney0-3Animal Characters
80What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?Steve Jenkins & Robin Page4-7Non-Fiction / Informational
81Lincoln: A PhotobiographyRussell Freedman11+Non-Fiction / Informational
82Ivy + BeanAnnie Barrows8-10Realistic Fiction
83YokoRosemary Wells4-7Animal Characters
84No No Yes YesLeslie Patricelli0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
85Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingJudy Blume8-10Realistic Fiction
86Interrupting ChickenDavid Ezra Stein4-7Animal Characters
87RulesCynthia Lord11+Realistic Fiction
88Grumpy BirdJeremy Tankard0-3Animal Characters
89An Egg Is QuietDianna Hutts Aston4-7Non-Fiction / Informational
90Puss in BootsCharles Perrault8-10Traditional / Poetry
91Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the MoonCatherine Thimmesh11+Non-Fiction / Informational
92What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby?Cressida Cowell0-3Fantasy / Science Fiction
93We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United StatesDavid Catrow8-10Non-Fiction / Informational
94I Took the Moon for a WalkCarolyn Curtis4-7Traditional / Poetry
95A Single ShardLinda Sue Park11+Realistic Fiction
96GossieOlivier Dunrea0-3Animal Characters
97The Adventures Of Captain UnderpantsDav Pilkey8-10Fantasy / Science Fiction
98First WordsRoger Priddy0-3Non-Fiction / Informational
99Joyful Noise: Poems for Two VoicesPaul Fleischman11+Traditional / Poetry
100AnimaliaGraeme Base4-7Non-Fiction / Informational

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