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Peter Atkins's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Peter Atkins recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Peter Atkins's favorite book recommendations of all time.


The Tempest

Performed variously as escapist fantasy, celebratory fiction, and political allegory, The Tempest is one of the plays in which Shakespeare's genius as a poetic dramatist found its fullest expression. Significantly, it was placed first when published in the First Folio of 1623, and is now generally seen as the playwright's most penetrating statement about his art.

Stephen Orgel's wide-ranging introduction examines changing attitudes to The Tempest, and reassesses the evidence behind the various readings. He focuses on key characters and their roles and relationships, as well as on...
Recommended by Peter Atkins, and 1 others.

Peter AtkinsThere is a kind of allegory about scientific endeavour in The Tempest which I enjoy. It’s magical, and it is an allegory of human knowledge. (Source)

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People commonly view evolution as a process of competition between individuals—known as “survival of the fittest”—with the individual representing the “unit of selection.” Richard Dawkins offers a controversial reinterpretation of that idea in The Extended Phenotype, now being reissued to coincide with the publication of the second edition of his highly-acclaimed The Selfish Gene. He proposes that we look at evolution as a battle between genes instead of between whole organisms. We can then view changes in phenotypes—the end products of genes, like eye color or leaf shape, which are usually... more
Recommended by Carl Zimmer, Peter Atkins, and 2 others.

Carl ZimmerI chose this because I think it expresses a really important idea. Richard Dawkins wrote this book not long after The Selfish Gene came out. That was his landmark book, in which he argued for a gene-centric view of evolution.  Genes build bodies. They build traits, which are known as phenotypes, in order to be replicated in the next generation. (Source)

Peter AtkinsShows a highly imaginative approach to understanding the nature of the biosphere. A very clever book. (Source)

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A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime

Recommended by Peter Atkins, and 1 others.

Peter AtkinsThe writer is really looking at the deep structure of spacetime in a wonderfully vivid and fascinating way. It is a very visual presentation of a highly abstract subject. (Source)

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Sacred Texts of the World

A Universal Anthology

A perennial best-seller, this collection of readings remains a favorite of teachers of world religions for its impartial tone and its balance of major contemporary religious traditions with primitive, ancient, and esoteric religions. less
Recommended by Peter Atkins, and 1 others.

Peter AtkinsAncient civilisations all groped for answers to big questions, and came up with all sorts of fantasies. (Source)

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A History of Western Philosophy

Since its first publication in 1945 Lord Russell's A History of Western Philosophy has been universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject—unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace and wit. In seventy-six chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the twentieth century. Among the philosophers considered are: Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Anaxagoras, the Atomists, Protagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, the Sceptics, the Epicureans, the... more
Recommended by Sam Harris, Peter Atkins, and 3 others.

Sam HarrisJust a great example of how English should be written and just a great voice to have in your head as a result. (Source)

Peter AtkinsIt reviews how people have really grappled in a seemingly very intelligent way with very deep questions. (Source)

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