#1. The Holographic Universe - Michael Talbot
Starting with a combination of an overview of David Bohm's holographic theory of cosmology and Karl Pribram's views on the holographic nature of the brain, Talbot then proceeds to present explanations for how various types of paranormal activity fit within the framework of the theory. I particularly like the implications of the theory that explain "action at a distance" and some of those other "wishful thinking" premises of Quantum Mechanics. A must read for open-minded people who are not satisfied with orthodox explanations of the structure of reality and the universe. And it totally makes sense!
#8. Hyperspace - Michio Kaku
Back to physics. Think we live in 4 dimensions? Guess again, flatlander. More like 10 or 26, says the author, giving a very well written description of Hyperspace, or Superstring theory. Concepts like parallel universes, exotic topologies, time travel, and the resolution of the gravitation paradox (Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity) are all in here, in a very readable, logically argued style.
#2. The Age of Spiritual Machines - Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil, entrepreneur and self-professed futurist, wrote this thought provoking book on what is to come in the next 100 years. In his view, with machine intelligence fully exceeding human capacity by 2020, humanity will blend with machines in ways most of us have not thought about. Ultimately an optimist, he shrugs off the spectre of robotics and nanotech run amok and concentrates instead on some of the cool things that may be possible, like creating a sofa out of thin air, and immortality (of sorts). All of this assumes that a soul doesn't exist and consciousness is only embedded in the brain, which is a little presumptive for my taste.
#3. Rule by Secrecy - Jim Marrs
The full title "Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History That Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons, and the Great Pyramids" hints at the scope of this work. The mother of all conspiracy books, Marrs' basic tenet is that decisions that have shaped the world, and initiated wars and significant global events have been in the hands of a few elite (Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderbergers, etc.) families for centuries. Working in reverse chronology, he starts with recent events and establishes links and connections all the way back to Sumerian mythology. Certainly a fun read if you like this sort of thing.
#7. Zen in the Martial Arts - Joe Hyams
And, in the event the market gets the better of you, you'd better read this book. Hyams intertwines Zen concepts, the Martial Arts, and day-to-day experiences in this very wise book. You don't have to be a martial artist to get something out of it - the concepts, such as recharging, focusing, and visualization, apply to your everyday stresses and issues. Each concise chapter treats a Zen idea with clarity and examples. Some of the stories about his training under Bruce Lee are fascinating as well. This is as good a bible for Zen-like living as you're likely to find.
#4. Other Worlds - Paul Davies
Throw away that overrated Stephen Hawking stuff on your bookshelf and pick up most anything by Paul Davies instead. In my opinion, the most readable and thought-provoking author of science, physics, and cosmology out there. This book is 20 years old, and so might be a bit out of date, but it was one of the most eye-opening books on physics I ever read. He very clearly outlines quantum mechanics and introduces the bizarre "Everett interpretation" that predicts how uncountable universes are created every second due to quantum mechanical decisions, while solving various paradoxes along the way.
#5. Fingerprints of the Gods - Graham Hancock
A classic example of an upstart alternative theory butting heads with orthodox science, in this case, Egyptology. Hancock is a thorn in the side of traditional archaeologists, who dismiss him out of hand because of his views, rather than giving them real consideration. In this book, he puts forth a very good case for an ancient intelligent civilization and a possible alternative age of the pyramids and The Sphinx. Some of his ideas might be questionable (e.g., the earth's crust suddenly shifting 1000's of miles) but the point is that many theories (e.g., Copernicus' solar-centric view) seemed equally questionable in their time and place. At a minimum, Hancock is a very good writer, with well-thought out and clearly written arguments.
#6. Market Wizards - Jack D. Schwager
Quite a different type of book compared to the "truth is out there" stuff above, this book is a collection of interviews that the author conducted with some of the worlds most successful financial traders (NOT investors). Whether they centered on trading futures, commodities, stocks, or options, or used technical or fundamental analysis to develop their trading systems, they all beat the odds and became extremely successful traders. An inspiring book with many pearls of wisdom for anyone who thinks they have what it takes to beat the market.
#9. The Power of Myth - Joseph Campbell
Based on a PBS-series, with Bill Moyers interviewing Joseph Campbell, this book is a coffee table book with substance. With a question and answer format, it is very educational, rich with mythological references and applications to our view of the world today. It is surprisingly confidence building and encourages people to follow their "bliss." Now if I could only do that and still afford my mortgage and ex-wife!
#10. The Physics of Immortality - Frank J. Tipler
Probably the most "out there" book I've ever read, Tipler attempts to prove the existence of God through physics and mathematics (seriously, the last third of the book are equations supporting his theory). According to the author, if intelligent life (humans and future human-inspired robots) can populate the universe at a rate exceeding its entropy decay, we will discover, or rather, create the Omega Point, an intelligence that encompasses all quantum mechanical life-paths, aka God. Not sure I'm particularly comforted by this, but it sure is a thought-provoking read. Not for the faint of heart, I do appreciate the occassional book that wanders into the rare ground between textbook and layman's book.