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Offering the Best of the Strangest Stuff on Earth!In association with Amazon.com
This page last updated on or around 4-3-2002
|The Whole Earth Catalog is like a web portal to life and the universe. I'd be amazed if anyone literate could go through it and not find something they loved but had never seen before. Based on the best material from a magazine originally started by 1960s hippies like Stewart Brand, the WEC is mostly an index to the best books available in the world, and offers small sample excerpts from each which are usually valuable in themselves. The only downside is that if you're like me you'll find thousands of dollars worth of books you desperately want in its pages. Quite a few of the books on this page I originally found via the WEC. Thank you, WEC folks. You made my life better with your work. |
NOTE: There's been several editions/updates to the WEC over past decades, and maybe ALL of them were available on Amazon at last check. If you get only one, look for the latest version. Every time I've gotten hold of a new edition I've given my old one away to friends or family, to spread the wealth (of knowledge). In more recent years the publishers have experimented with putting out specialty editions of the catalog, dealing with single subjects such as, say, telecommunications. These can be valuable in themselves, but my review here mainly pertains to the biggest and most comprehensive and encyclopedic editions of the catalog. I'd recommend getting the biggest and most generalized edition first, and more specialized editions afterwards (if budgets force you to choose).
ADDITIONAL NOTE: The WEC crowd is pretty frank, straightforward, and open-minded about a very wide range of issues, and their works reflect that. This means for instance, that it's possible to randomly open up a catalog and see something about sexuality that you wouldn't necessarily want to go running to your next door neighbor to show them. Likewise, some parents might not want their young kids casually browsing through the book on their own. I personally wouldn't censor anything in the WECs I've seen from anyone, but I mention this for people who find themselves easily and frequently offended, shocked, or apalled by every day circumstances.
|Fred Alan Wolf |
|Charles Sheffield |
Borderlands of Science
|David Brin |
The Transparent Society
|Leslie M. LeCron |
Does self-hypnotism work? It did for me. Though it may not be what you expect. Like other types of mental and physical training it can be somewhat arduous to achieve and maintain, and pose problems if taken to excess. For example, the physical relaxation component of hypnosis rests the body while the mental work taxes the mind. Doing too much of this on a regular basis can make it difficult for you to fall asleep at night, despite your mind being terribly fatigued. Self-hypnosis sessions, like yoga, also require a significant chunk of free time to indulge in. Especially in the earliest exercises. That means lots of us in an increasingly time-short society may never get the chance to try it. Maybe high school and college students will be the main folks who have such time available these days, plus the most to possibly gain from the practice. Just be careful not to go to extremes in any way with the procedure. For example, it's possible in hypnosis and other mental exercises to actually take conscious control of sub-conscious physical processes. This is not something an amateur should do. Why? Well, if you take control of your breathing reflex and then forget to tell your body to breathe at some point, you could die of suffocation. So please avoid using self-hypnosis for gaining super-human control over your physical vital signs. It's better used to improve concentration and memory recall in classwork, or physical coordination in sports.
|Lawrence Krauss |
The Physics of Star Trek is mostly an attack on the plausibility of the most advanced technologies portrayed in the ST television shows and films (the transporter, warp drive, etc.). Although there's definitely some gaps between ST tech and even any reasonable reality we might expect to have 500 years from now, still I believe Krauss goes a bit overboard in his criticisms-- so far overboard as to get into a few credibility problems of his own, at times. Still, it's worth a read for Trek fans interested in the nitty gritty details of what it'd take to really have working warp drives and the like.
|Marshall Savage |
The Millennial Project: How to Colonize the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps is one of my prized possessions. It surely ranks in the top ten most frequently checked reference books in my collection, as it's so jam-packed with cutting edge ideas and technologies pertaining to the present, the far future, and everything in-between for the human adventure. This is a literal how-to manual for reaching the stars, and doing it in style.
Want to see where Marshall Savage is mentioned on this site? Click here.
|Ray Kurzweil |
The Web Within Us
The Undiscovered Mind: How the Human Brain Defies Replication, Medication and Explanation
|Herbert Benson M.D. |
The Relaxation Response
|Paul Saffo ||Frances Cairncross |
The Death of Distance
|Bill McGuire |
Apocalypse! A natural history of global disasters
|Wendy Kaminer |
Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials
|Lawrence Lessig |
Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace
|Diane Coyle |
THE WEIGHTLESS WORLD Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy
|Stephen Herzenberg, John Alic, & Howard Wial |
NEW RULES FOR A NEW ECONOMY Employment and Opportunity in Postindustrial America
|L. Peter |
The Peter Principle
|Colin Wilson |
The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Mysteries
|Alvin Toffler |
The Third Wave
|Robert Schleicher and James R. Barr|
Building and Flying Model Aircraft
|G. Polya |
How to Solve it
|Richard Nelson Bolles ||The World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary|
|Itzhak Bentov |
Stalking the Wild Pendulum was like a gift from God to me. I was amazed to find such a book existed. Basically it summed up in one slim volume a huge number of ideas I'd previously been pursuing on my own, and made sense of them. In effect, Bentov suddenly swooped in and dropped into my lap a nice and neat package of all sorts of things I'd been wondering about human consciousness, and trying to put together myself, for years.
A Cosmic Book is a follow up to Pendulum by Bentov's wife. Bentov you see died after publishing Pendulum-- which was no surprise to me. I'd expect to die too after writing something like that! A single human being is only meant to do so much during their lifetime, and Bentov just accelerated himself like gangbusters into the afterlife with Pendulum. Apparently reading it is not nearly as risky as writing it, since it's been maybe 20 years since I read it and I'm still here (mostly). Of course, I'm not sure I'd want to see any statistics of what happened to Pendulum readers in general since its publication...
|Richard Carlyon |
A Guide to the Gods
|Philip Kotler, Liam Fahey, and S. Jatusripitak |
The New Competition
|R.L. Wing |
The Illustrated I Ching, Tao of Power, and Art of Strategy are actually interpretations by Wing of three oriental classics of philosophy. The more common name for the Art of Strategy is the Art of War. The I Ching is the core volume of all these, with the others being somewhat derivative, specializing where the I Ching generalizes. There's a surprising, perhaps even unsettling amount of wisdom and intelligence built into the principles of these works. I spent an enormous amount of time studying the I Ching, due to the continual astonishment I experienced at what I learned from it. I hesitate to write here some of the more amazing items, simply because even I still don't believe them. I ended up buying at least a dozen different interpretational books regarding the I Ching, in an effort to make sure I was squeezing out every bit of real comprehension and understanding I could from my dialogues with the book. I also bought several different interpretations of the other classics listed here. But I ended up using Wing's I Ching as my master copy for studying all three of the works and their many interpretations, scribbling notes in the margins and the like (the Wing book offers plenty of space for note-taking like this). The original cover wore off it, and I used duct tape to make a new cover for it out of plastic. That cover too eventually wore off of it. Apparently I bought a second copy of Wing's I Ching around that time, in case I lost the first (or it disintegrated into dust from overuse). I finally quit using the book though-- after I wrote a computer program based on my lengthy study of all three of these Chinese classics and their many interpretations, plus my own experience in applying their philosophies to real life. The resulting program contained my own unique integration of all these works into a single entity, interpreted from a modern American point of view. Today I maintain one computer dedicated almost exclusively to running this one program (the program as written now only runs on very old Macintosh computers). On occasion I ask it about certain matters, and take its responses seriously. One of the things I'd like to do if I get the time and money is to port my program to the web so that others can use it too.
NOTE: The reason I list only Wing's interpretations of these works and not all the other versions I've used as well, is that I consider Wing's the best overall, by a wide margin.
|Bill Landreth |
Out of the Inner Circle is a personal account of a cracker (usually mistakenly referred to as a 'hacker').
|Stewart Brand |
The Media Lab
|Paul Davies |
|William Bates |
The Computer Cookbook
|R.D. Laing |
The Politics of Experience
|Dr. Michio Kaku and Jennifer Trainer |
|Kenneth Gatland |
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology
|Sybil P. Parker |
The McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science & Technology is a massive, massive book, which likely goes into far more scientific detail than most people would want on many subjects. So I wouldn't suggest this one for kids or laymen, but only college students, professors, engineers, and scientists.
|The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia is a handy one volume encyclopedia for those quick references you need for a particular subject.||The World Almanac and Book of Facts is an excellent statistics and bite-size fact source, updated annually.||Michael Hutchison |
|The Tormont Webster's Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary||J.I. Rodale |
The Synonym Finder was and may still be the benchmark by which other synonym references are measured. Anytime you find yourself overusing a certain word in your descriptions, this is where you'll find relief.
|The Random House Dictionary|
|John W. Wright |
The Universal Almanac
|Murray R. Spiegel |
Mathematical Handbook of Formulas and Tables is of the Schaum's Outline Series of workbooks, commonly seen in colleges. That's where I bought mine. My Handbook is now well worn and tattered, with the front cover and even first page or two now missing. I still use it regularly.
|Stan Gibilisco and Neil Sclater |
Encyclopedia of Electronics
|Michael Stapleton |
The Illustrated Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology
|Brewer the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable||William K. Hodson |
Maynard's Industrial Engineering Handbook
|Dick Brown |
Hot Air Ballooning
|Stephen Rosen |
|Jack Lambie |
|Bill St. John Wilkes |
A Handbook of Underwater Exploration
|Peter Wyckoff |
Dictionary of Stock Market Terms
|Webster's NewWorld Dictionary of Computer Terms|
|Sissela Bok |
|Lillian Biermann Wehmeyer |
|Barry Tarshis |
The "Average American" Book
|Adam Smith |
The Money Game
|Paul Pietsch |
|Joel Kotkin and Yoriko Kishimoto |
The Third Century
|Rand McNally |
WorldMaster World Atlas
|E.D. Hirsch, JR. |
|Bob Toben and Fred Alan Wolf |
Space-Time and Beyond is an explanation of advanced physics ideas done in cartoon form. It may well be the single best volume to get if you want a quick and fun introduction to these ideas, in bite-size format. It might also make a neat gift for teens you believe may find such concepts interesting.
|Larry Pina |
Mac Classic & SE Repair and Upgrade Secrets
|David Werner |
Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Healthcare Handbook is one of my most valued books today. It offers up a tremendous amount of useful and practical health and medical information for just about anyone, even in the middle of US cities as opposed to living in a third world village. It can tell you the difference between ailments requiring immediate professional attention and those you can tend to yourself with commonly available household items. Thus, it could save lots of people tons of money in unnecessary emergency room visits. Or save the life of someone who otherwise might in ignorance avoid seeing a doctor for a serious malady. My own copy is now many years old, and I plan to buy an updated edition soon if it's available.
|Paul Jacques Grillo |
Form, Function, and Design
|Saul Alinsky |
Rules for Radicals
|Matthew Lesko |
|Sheila Ostrander, Lynn Schroeder, and Nancy Ostrander |
|John Carmody |
Earth Sheltered Housing Design
|Les Scher |
Finding and Buying Your Place in the Country
|Tom Schneider |
The Moveable Nest
|Paul Hawken |
The Next Economy
|Henry David Thoreau |
It's been many, many years since I read Walden. Since then I've actually trod the woods around Walden Pond, the place which inspired Thoreau to write the book. Walden was and continues to be a surprisingly influential work for the modern world. Ever hear the quote "....the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation..."? This book is where it came from.
|Lester C. Thurow |
The Zero-Sum Society
|Jay Conrad Levinson |
Earning Money Without a Job
|Michael Phillips |
The Seven Laws of Money
|Andrew Tobias |
The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need
|Worldbook Inc. |
Worldbook Encyclopedia is probably the very best all around hard copy multi-volume Encyclopedia available for most kids and adults in the developed world today. My parents got us a set when I was perhaps ten years old, and I tried my darnedest to read the entire set completely through in my youth. These volumes offer a good balance of text and graphics among their content. The Encyclopedia Britannica may offer more technical detail for college level concerns, but any library or household which possesses both sets will likely see the Worldbook get 60%-90% of the overall usage of the two.
|Alden Todd |
Finding Facts Fast
|Tom Brown |
|Carlos Castaneda |
The Teachings of Don Juan and A Separate Reality were what put Castaneda on the map as a writer and guru for many of my generation in the 20th century. Castaneda eventually spun all this out into lots more books, but his earliest works are the highest in quality and that special Castaneda magic. These works began as research for a college paper into native American mysticism, and then grew into something much more.
|Robert M. Pirsig |
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a voyage of self-discovery via motorcycle trip, and became a phenomenon in its own right in the 20th century.
|Don Lancaster |
The Incredible Secret Money Machine may be the most fun and engaging book about self-employment and entrepreneurship I ever read. It may be dated now in some real world details, but it will surely still possess much the same magic for readers now as it did for me then.
|Michio Kaku |
Hyperspace is one of Kaku's more recent books. It offers one of the clearest and most engaging treatments yet of modern scientific theories on how the Universe came into existence, as well as the possible workings behind the exotic and tantalyzing ideas of multiple universes, real warp drives, and time travel. In this book Kaku takes the reader by the hand and walks them through the history of physics and how some of the world's greatest minds (including Einstein) grappled with the often bizarre and surprising ways our Reality seems to be put together, to get us to where we are today.
Visions:How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century
|Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin |
The Five Ages of the Universe
|Peter F. Drucker|
The Age of Discontinuity
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Managing in Turbulent Times
The Effective Executive
|Colin Ronan |
The Natural History of the Universe is a fabulous reference text, overflowing with luxurious illustrations. It's of a size and format which could be used for a coffee table book, but it's vastly overqualified for that.
|Kevin Kelly |
NEW RULES FOR THE NEW ECONOMY 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World
|Carl Sagan |
The Dragons of Eden
|Eric Drexler |
Engines of Creation was like a revelation to me about the future. I'm sure it was a major part of the inspiration for me to eventually create my timeline. Immediately after I read it I bought extra copies to give away to friends and co-workers.
Engines of Creation may have single-handedly started the nanotechnology revolution going on in the labs today.
Unbounding the Future
Mind Children, among other things, was part of the inspiration for Our Ultimate Corporeal Forms.
|Stephen Jay Gould |
Wonderful Life is about a tantalyzing fossil find which indicates a wild diversity of lifeforms in the Earth's youth, which no longer exists today. This book is chock full of wonderful illustrations of creatures that look like they came from another planet rather than ours.
|Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy |
By Way of Deception
|The Diagram Group|
Cyclopedia is a profusely illustrated little desktop book that's a great supplement to the other references offered on this page. My cousin Edwin showed up with it one day and I persuaded him to let me buy it off him immediately, with him buying himself another copy later. That's how much I liked this little book at first sight.
|John Bartlett |
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations offers you a reference guide to the vast majority of famous phrases which are embedded in popular culture and literature today. Here you can find out who really did say what.
|Oxford Paperback Reference Concise Science Dictionary||Edith Hamilton|
|Ithiel de Sola Pool |
Technologies of Freedom
|Martha Joukowsky |
A Complete Manual of Field Archaeology
|James P. Carse|
Finite and Infinite Games
|The Facts on File Visual Dictionary||E.F. Schumacher |
Small is Beautiful
Bridges to Infinity
|Michael Kidron and Ronald Segal |
The New State of the World Atlas
|Ken Kern |
The Owner-Built Homestead
Consumer Reports Buying Guides offer readers one of the few credible and comprehensive sources of comparisons, reviews, and track records of products today. I find their Guides for both new and used cars to be especially helpful. Check those repair records before buying, folks!
|Bernard Kamoroff |
|Bradford Angier |
Survival With Style is one of my favorite survivalist references. In decades past I bought and studied and experimented with LOTS of survivalist and self-sufficiency texts and tools-- maybe thousands. Out of all those, the single tome I choose to pack in my carry-on bag for plane flights (and lengthy auto trips) these days is this one.
Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills is a fantastic book. Profusely illustrated and jam-packed with information, this book can not only be a valuable resource for folks seeking self-sufficiency, but fun to browse through as well.
|James DeKorne |
The Survival Greenhouse
|The Farallones Institute |
The Integral Urban House
Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties offers instruction and illustrations in the construction of a wide variety of do-it-yourself shelters built from local materials, for a wide range of locales, with simple and commonplace tools. The book also includes how-to information regarding the building of chimneys, hearths, locks, latches, and gates.
|Jim Cullen |
How to Be Your Own Power Company
|Jerome Rabow |
It may be that establishing ways to facilitate connections between willing tutors and earnest students would help improve many nations (and the world) rapidly in many ways, and for minimal costs. Tutoring Matters-- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About How to Tutor is a how-to guide for potential tutors and government agencies which might be interested in setting up such programs. It also includes a problem-solving section. The book is based on Rabow's and his students' own documented experiences in tutoring over ten years.