Richard Feynman: A life in science, by Mary and John Gribbin, is a book about one of the important physicists of the 20th century. Feynman himself wrote or related stories about his personal experiences and adventures in the humorous auto-biographical books Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? (with Ralph Leighton). This biography by the Gribbins is an excellent companion book to the other two, capturing Feynman's life and also discusses some of his physics.
Paul Krugman. The conscience of a liberal. A brilliant history of the rise and fall of middle class America.
In Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, Joe Bageant offers an enlightening, humorous, sad, and often scary look at the rural white working class. The key difference between Bageant and “his people” is that he left and got an education. Access to quality education apparently liberalizes society. Indeed knowledge liberates the mind.
James Hansen Storms of My Grandchildren This is a whistle-blower's account, of how political systems are so willfully and deliberately blind to environmental realities that we have now no choice but to take direct physical action against the polluters. Hansen explains the basic science that the burning of oil and coal is emitting so many warming gases into the atmosphere that we are now at the point of triggering a series of catastrophes we won't be able to stop. He has advised that if the leaders weren't going to act:
"they should spend a small amount of time composing a letter to be left for future generations. The letter should explain that the leaders realized their failure would cause our descendants to inherit a planet with a warming ocean, disintegrating ice sheets, rising sea level, increasing climate extremes, and vanishing species, but it would have been too much trouble to oppose business interests who insisted on burning every last bit of fossil fuels. By composing this letter, the leaders will at least achieve an accurate view of their place in history."
Philip Roth's latest book, The Humbling, is his third in as many years and he apparently has already completed another. Defying the concept of retirement, Roth is speeding up instead of slowing down with age.