Tag Archives: biology

Favorite NonFiction Books

Here are my favorite non-fiction books and authors (including biographies), in random order. For favorite writing, family/parenting, religious, or personality/behavior/cognition books, please see separate posts. I didn’t include homeschooling books, but if anyone is interested in that list, let me know & I’ll make a post.

Miscellaneous Books

Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction, by Tom Raabe

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings, by Diana Pavlac Glyer

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, by Clair Davies

Foam Rolling Guru, by Jason van den Berg

The Naturally Clean Home: 101 Safe and Easy Herbal Formulas for Nontoxic Cleansers, by Karyn Siegel-Maier

Business, Careers, and Finance Books

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard Nelson Bolles

Built to Last; Good to Great; and Good to Great & the Social Sectors, by James C. Collins

The Mormon Way of Doing Business: Leadership and Success Through Faith and Family, by Jeff Benedict

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, by Dave Ramsey

The Making of A Well – Designed Business: Turn Inspiration into Action, by LuAnn Nigara

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting and Running a Business, by Steve Mariati

Start and Run a Profitable Home-Based Business: Your Step-by-Step, First-Year Guide, by Edna Sheedy

Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You’ll Ever Need, by Rieva Lesonsky

AMA Complete Guide to Marketing Research for Small Business, by Holly Edmunds

Do-It-Yourself Direct Marketing: Secrets for Small Business, by Mark S. Bacon

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting an Online Business, by Frank Fiore

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business, by Barbara Weltman

Camping Books

Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardine’s Guide to Lightweight Hiking

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hikers’ Companion, by Leslie Mass

Backpacking: Essential Skills to Advanced Techniques, by Victoria Steele Logue

The Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Planning Guide, by Victoria Steele Logue

Trail Safe: Averting Threatening Human Behavior in the Outdoors, by Michael Bane

Cookbooks

Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker, by Lorna J. Sass

How to Repair Food, by Marina Bear (the only one of these cookbooks I actually own…)

What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained, by Robert L. Wolke

The Thru-Hiker’s Handbook: Georgia to Maine, by Dan Bruce

Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail, by Linda Frederick Yaffe

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, by Jeff Hertzberg

Not Your Mother’s Food Storage: Store the Food You Use Every Day, by Kathy Bray

Science & History Books

And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling Over Niagara, by Cody Cassidy

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle, by Douglas J. Emlen

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World, by Steven Johnson

Seven Miracles That Saved America: Why They Matter and Why We Should Have Hope, by Chris Stewart

The Miracle of Freedom: Seven Tipping Points That Saved the World, by Chris Stewart

Biographies

The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics, by Daniel James Brown

Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas

Richard Feynman

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield (which actually had a strong influence on my decision to be a “real” author)

The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, by Eric Metaxas

Unlikely Heroes, by Ron Carter

To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson

A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park

Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness, by Chris Williams

Faith: Behind the Fences: A True Story of Survival in a Japanese Prison Camp, by Kelly Dispirito Taylor

 

What non-fiction books have made a difference to your life? Tell me in the comments.

M. C. Lee

The Best Time to Write a Novel: Circadian Rhythms for Writers

While I attempted to not quote, this information is taken from The Power of When, by Michael Breus. I recommend you read the book for more details.

In the morning, sunlight hits your eyes and activates your circadian rhythm for the day. Your temperature, blood pressure, thinking, hormones, energy, creativity, and more, fluctuate according to this inner clock. This means there actually IS a best time for you to eat, sleep, write, and learn.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the early bird and the night owl. In reality, there are four chronological types. I’ll call them the Earlys (15-20% of the population), the Mids (50%), the Lates (15-20%), and the Chaotics (10%). Up until the invention of electrical lights, the Earlys and Lates served to guard society at either end of the day, while the Mids worked during the day. The lightly-sleeping Chaotics would wake at small noises and warn of danger. There is a range within each category, so you could be an early-ish Mid, for example.

Some of you probably know your chronotype already. Some of you might wish you were different and want to know if you can change. Well, sort of, but no. Let me explain. Babies tend to be Lates, toddlers are usually Earlys, children are typically Earlys or Mids, and teens are frequently Lates. Adults tend to be Mids before turning Early or Chaotic as Seniors. But between roughly the ages of 21 and 65, you can’t change your type. You CAN, however, learn how to do the best you can with what you are.

Before getting into the schedule, let’s cover a few interesting things about each type.

Earlys don’t typically have trouble sleeping or waking. Their main improvement goal is to stretch their energy further into the day so they can enjoy the rest of the world for a little longer.

Main challenges: a bumpy adjustment and frustration at slow results.

Mids need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. They have an advantage, because most of the social world is set up for them already. They also have the longest ideal writing/editing time.

Main goals: get adequate sleep and exercise during the week, shift eating rhythms, increase energy in afternoons and evenings.

Main challenges: feeling trapped by a schedule, sleeping in/napping on the weekends, late-night snacking.

Lates frequently diagnose themselves as lazy or insomniacs, when in reality they simply have a different sleeping schedule. They have the second-longest ideal writing/editing time.

Main goals: improve efficiency during work hours, shift eating rhythms, increase sleep, stabilize mood swings.

Main challenges: rebelliousness (but biochronology is law of nature, not arbitrary rules), impatience, and impulsivity.

The smallest group, the Chaotics, are biologically backwards from the other three groups. For most people, cortisol goes up in the morning and temperature falls at night. The Chaotics are exactly the opposite, which explains many of their sleep problems. They also have brains that don’t turn off while sleeping, so they frequently don’t feel rested when they wake.

Main goals from a new schedule: increase energy in the morning, decrease evening anxiety for better sleep.

Main challenges: unrealistic expectations for 8 hours of sleep (a good 6 hours is realistic), and inconsistency.

I tried to predict some of your questions, like:

What if my optimal schedule isn’t practical in real life? Do the best you can. See if you can get any part of your schedule to align.

What if I don’t want to be tied to a schedule? Then don’t, but if you give it a try, you might find the improvements worth the changes.

What do you do if your life doesn’t allow you to write at the ideal time? First try to pick a closely related time (by function). Can you use your brainstorming or creative thinking time to write? Can you use your professional time to edit?

If not, is there a just-before or just-after your ideal time that would work with your brain and your schedule?

If neither of those will work, then you’re going to have to use the time you have available, even if it isn’t ideal. But don’t use your editing time to write, or vice versa! They are opposite functions, and your brain will protest.

What do you do if the important people in your life *cough your family* have different schedules from you? Can you compromise on a middling time, between the ideal for either of you? Can you compromise on what activities you do together or how you do them? For instance, a Late could sit & talk for an Early dinner, but actually eat later. Can you compromise on whose schedule rules for different activities? Maybe you could give a little on sleep time in exchange for some writing time, or vice versa.

And, of course, “But when is the right time to write?”

Darrendrakar Genetics

A fan asked me how Darrendrakar genetics work. Well, it’s more complicated than *I* can understand completely, but let me at least tell you a few things.

If you’ve read my young adult Unexpected Heroes fantasy series, set on the world of Kaiatan, you’ll know that the shapeshifters in the country of Darrendra have one alternate form that is as natural to them as their two-legger form. (You can’t call them human. “Human” is a Terran species, and “humans” can’t change shape, sorry. Darrendrakar do go by “man, woman, or person,” though.)

In book one, Wind of Choice, the shapeshifter we get to know the most is Ludik. His alternate form is a black jaguar. (Trivia: any of the big cats, when black, can be called panthers.) He comes from the kindred (tribe) of cats, called Felid. Furthermore, he comes from the sub-group of “big” cats, which includes lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and the makarodonts that include such lovely specimens as sabre-tooth tigers (although the Darrendrakar call them something else).

In Darrendra, any of the big cats are cross-fertile, as is evident from Ludik’s mother being a tiger and his father being a lion. This is different from Terra (our Earth), where you almost never get that sort of thing, except for mules. (But sometimes…  http://ligerworld.com/shasta-the-first-ever-liger-in-America.html ) On the rare occasion you get a cross on Earth, the child is not fertile. In Darrendra, they are. In fact, you can get all sorts of results, depending on what genes run in the family. The Darrendrakar don’t have “mixed” children, like ligers. The genes will fall out on one side or the other, or select from other ancestral genes. Ludik has two brothers that are lions, a brother and sister that are tigers (one orange, one golden), and a sister that is a jaguar (but spotted instead of black).

Oddly, Ludik’s identical-as-two-legger brother is a lion (not a jaguar) when he changes shape. Why they look so similar as people and so different as cats is one of the mysteries of Darrendran biology that I can’t explain. And if you ask a Darrendrakar, he’ll just shrug and ask why not.

What you DON’T get in Darrendra is the big cats crossing with the small cats (not housecats, but cheetahs, mountain lions, ocelots, etc). Well, they could mate, but they either wouldn’t have children (most likely), or their children would be sterile. (Within the small cats, they are cross-fertile between types, just as the big cats are within their own group.)

The same difficulty works across Darrendrakar kindreds. Sure, a Felid and a Canid could marry, but they wouldn’t have children. Add in the typical uneasy peace between kindreds, and an interkindred marriage would be pretty difficult. Even without being “forbidden,” that kind of reality tends to discourage most interkindred romances.

This is also why you hardly ever see marriages between the four different peoples on Kaiatan. The winged Iojif, the shapechanging Darrendrakar, the gilled Nokai, and the solar-powered Iskri almost always marry someone from their own kind. And you never, never see an avian with gills or a solar-powered shapeshifter. The genes do not mix that way.

So, what did I leave out that you want to know? Leave a question in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it!