I definitely second Guns, Germs, and Steel…simply one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in recent years.
Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. Some of the physics-talk can lead to a strong MEGO (“my eyes glaze over”) reaction for some readers, but it is a surprisingly engaging book about some of the research going on towards “The Grand Unified Theory”.
The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. Who knew that a book about twenty years of research on Galapagos finches could be so darn interesting?
Parliament of Whores by P.J. O’Rourke. I’m a big fan of this guy, and this book is simply one of the best and one of the most damning examinations of our nation’s government. I’ve heard that this book is supposed to be out of print, but you can still get it from Amazon.com. It was first published in 1992, but (unfortunately) a lot of the things he discusses still hold true today. You’ll never look at American government the same way again after reading this.
Eat the Rich by P.J. O’Rourke. Practically anything written by this guy is worth a look, and this is one of his best works. A great look at the different economies of the world…given the inherent dryness of the subject, it’s impressive how interesting and accessible this book is. Don’t let the title fool you…he’s definitely not a liberal.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Broke my heart the first time I read it. I still re-read this classic every couple of years.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. If you thought Fahrenheit 451 gave you a new perspective, then wait until you get a load of Big Brother.