Bad Science by Ben Goldacre. It deals with interpreting statistics; recognizing false equivalencies; probability; critically assessing those ”clinical trials” advertised by people selling their bullshit detox pills, and so much more.
It's been a while since I read it, I seem to remember that it's pretty engaging on balance, but there are some dry patches to struggle through. Your mileage may vary. **The Demon-Haunted World** by Carl Sagan is well worth a read - learning how to think and how to question is an important foundation to build knowledge on. The book discusses the importance of science and rationality, and how we determine what is true and what is isn't.
I was googling it to double check the spelling and found that this quote from the book (published in 1995) has been causing a bit of a stir last year.
> Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.
Thinking, fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman is absolutely amazing.
How to Lie With Statistics by Darrell Huff
**FICTION:** Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. Was a pretty great book that made me think about life differently. It explores a lot about what "enlightenment" means and how that's achieved. It touches on a lot of aspects of what spirituality means and what life's meaning is. About how individually a lot of stuff we do by itself is pretty irrelevant, but when taken together forms a bigger purpose.
**NON-FICTION:** The Big Short by Michael Lewis. It's a pretty cliche answer, but if you liked the movie you have to big the book a spin. It's much more detailed and gives you a great overview of an insanely complicated concept and sequence of events. Very few books explain the WHY of what happened, and The Big Short is a great overview of the banking system within the global economy and what went wrong in 2008 and why it toppled over
The Eternal Golden Braid. It's a bit heavy, but explores a lot of science/art.
"Man's Search for Meaning" - Victor Frankl
Really helped me getting a sense of what meaning in life really is.
The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell. It's a post-apocalyptic survival guide and its aim is to both preserve humanity and also to preserve our technology as much as possible in order to prevent a slide back to the dark ages once the world starts repopulating. Every page is full of knowledge that's laid out in such a way that it's easily memorable and it's all useful.
I came a little late to the party, but if you're looking for something in the field of mathematics that is still very interesting to the average person, I know a few good ones. Mathematics doesn't have to be boring at all, it's something that has interested me since I was a child.
***Proofs and Refutations*** **by Imre Lakatos** This book is good for getting a layman-friendly introduction to pure mathematics. The book is written like a dialogue, and despite the superficial complexity of what they're talking about, it's very easy to follow even if you've never considered yourself good at math.
***The Road to Reality*** **by Roger Penrose** To be honest, this book gets way more of a bad rap than it deserves. Some think at first glance that it's too complex for laymen, or that it's too simple for the experienced. However, this book is helpful for both kinds of people. Aside from a few parts, this is a book the average person can understand.
***A Book of Abstract Algebra*** **by Charles Pinter** I have never met another book that can work even ordinary people into excitement about abstract algebra like this book can. It's an amazing introduction to the subject. Out of the three books I've mentioned, it'd be the least accessible, but if you're willing to dig up those Algebra II courses you took in High School, you'll understand this book.
Sophie's World is a fun primer on philosophy, told through a crazy lens.