Recently read and recommended:Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players by Stefan Fatsis
The author sets out to describe the world of tournament Scrabble, but in the process, winds up, descending into that world himself. While the quirky characters and the Scrabble culture are fascinating, the idea that detail that stuck with me the most is the way that most of the elite players had given up learning the meanings of words and had turned to regarding and officially allowed "word" as just a pattern of letters. The moral? The price of obsession seems to be that it can define you completely, so be careful what you get obsessed with.
The Evolution of Consciousness by Robert Ornstein
An entertaining disection of the nature of consciousness with lots of pop psychology anecdotes. Having been thinking about this topic for several months, I was gradually coming to some of the same conclusions, but Ornstein does a good job of convincing the reader that the mind is actually composed of many minds, the "squadron of simpletons", each taking control in different situations. This is what makes perfect consistency or rationality hard, but it also makes humans highly adaptable. While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, I can certainly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think about the mind and the meaning of consciousness.
Watchmen by Alan Moore
While I have never read comic books before, Watchmen was such an intelligent story and a clever use of the medium that I am already on the lookout for another great comic.
Jipi and the Paranoid Chip by Neal Stephenson
An incredible short story by my favorite author. While I was bothered initially by confusion as to whether it was set in the Diamond Age universe or the Cryptonomicon universe (or maybe all of his stories are in the same universe, just at different times), eventually I got swept up in the events and the ideas. Of all the short stories that Stephenson has written, this, I think, is the best.