Recently, I’ve been reading good introductory textbooks on major fields. I just finished a book on population genetics that several people have independently recommended to me (and read it several times). It really clarified my thinking and it was pretty accessible. I think that most intelligent people could get a lot out of reading introductory texts because even if they don’t familiarize themselves with the details, they will understand the broad outlines and not be intimidated by terminology.
So here are my contributions:
Population genetics – Principles of Population Genetics by Daniel Hartl & Andrew Clark.
Biochemistry – Biochemistry by Voet & Voet.
Programming – Learning Perl by Schwartz (please no religious diatribes because of this suggestion).
I’m curious about philosophy, economics, linguistics, psychology and statistics introductory texts for my next subject areas of inquiry. Also, any other fields of course. Please post suggestions in the comments box.
There is a lot of specialized knowledge out there-but I don’t think reading introductory texts is out of reach for most people.