Novelist Ian McEwan is a bit of a science buff, and put up a top fifteen list - a first stab at a popular science canon - earlier this year. It was unveiled in a talk he gave at a meeting to mark the 30th anniversary of Dawkins' Selfish Gene, itself a strong contender for most influential pop science title of recent years, if not the best book.
You can read McEwan's essay as published in The Guardian
, or find it on John Brockman's Edge
website, along with the rest of the talks.
His top titles:
A science canon
Francis Bacon Advancement of Learning
Antonio Damasio The Feeling of What Happens
Charles Darwin The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (ed Ekman)
Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene
David Deutsch The Fabric of Reality
Jared Diamond Guns, Germs and Steel
Galileo Galilei Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences
Brian Greene The Elegant Universe
David Hume A Treatise of Human Nature
Ernst Mayr This Is Biology
Steven Pinker The Language Instinct
Matt Ridley Nature Via Nurture
Voltaire Letters on England
Steven Weinberg Dreams of a Final Theory
EO Wilson The Diversity of Life
The Voltaire is there, by the way, because he explains Newtonian physics. I'd probably keep Deutsch, Diamond, and Greene, would prefer other books by Darwin, Damasio, Dawkins, Ridley, Weinberg and Wilson, and do without Hume, Pinker, Mayr and Bacon. But a nice place to start a discussion...