Books about biological systems and concepts

A place to recommend and discuss books that contribute towards our systems thinking and practice

Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jsp_1983 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:30 am

Can anybody recommend any accessible books covering biological systems and systems concepts? Particularly for someone without a life sciences background (and for whom GCSE science was the last feeble interaction with biology).
jsp_1983
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:59 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jim_lewis1 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:08 am

You could start with Carson's 'Silent Spring', a landmark publication still cited as a major reference in the field of ecology which, although not explicitly, draws on the systemic principles of interconnectedness and interdependency.

I think this might be a full text:
http://books.google.no/books?id=6sRtTjw ... ng&f=false
Current OU study: A230
Studying towards: BA Humanities
Past OU Study: MBA (Tech Man), BEng/MEng (incl T214, T306) PG Dip EDM (incl T863, TU812), AA100, AXR272
(OU Systems courses)
jim_lewis1
 
Posts: 1078
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:14 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jsp_1983 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:55 am

jim_lewis1 wrote:You could start with Carson's 'Silent Spring', a landmark publication still cited as a major reference in the field of ecology which, although not explicitly, draws on the systemic principles of interconnectedness and interdependency.

I think this might be a full text:
http://books.google.no/books?id=6sRtTjw ... ng&f=false


Hi Jim,

Thanks for the controversial suggestion :lol:

I'm not well-versed in this area of science, so I might not have been as clear on what I think I'm looking for - I'm thinking about stuff down at the cellular and organism level (eg, humans, animals, plants etc). I want to know a little bit more about how they work, in a systems context.
jsp_1983
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:59 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jim_lewis1 on Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:16 pm

As above. Only controversial to those with vested interest.
Current OU study: A230
Studying towards: BA Humanities
Past OU Study: MBA (Tech Man), BEng/MEng (incl T214, T306) PG Dip EDM (incl T863, TU812), AA100, AXR272
(OU Systems courses)
jim_lewis1
 
Posts: 1078
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2008 2:14 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby Andrea on Thu Jul 05, 2012 2:48 pm

I would strongly recommend Eugene Odum's "Ecology: a bridge between science and society". Both the Odum brothers (Eugene and Harold) made some fantastic contributions to system science and have produced some very good texts in the field of biology/ecology/energetics. A lot of their texts have been scanned and are now available as PDFs e.g. http://www.hawaii.edu/publichealth/ecoh ... ons1-4.pdf

Another favourite author is Gerald Marten, although his focus is more on social/natural systems interactions with a specialisation in complex adaptive systems. His book "Human Ecology" is available online and is a very straightforward read: http://www.gerrymarten.com/human-ecolog ... tents.html
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jsp_1983 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:47 pm

D/Led to my tablet! And added to my never-ending reading list...

Andrea - do you read the whole book, or do you just read the parts that appear to be of interest? I'm still trying to understand how it is that academics can have so many books or recommendations AND make notes from them AND have time to do everything else in their lives (work, family, social etc). I'm coming to the conclusion that academics only read certain parts, whereas leisure readers read the whole book.
jsp_1983
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:59 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby Andrea on Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:26 pm

having just received a consignment of new books from Triarchy Press, this is a good question! Books I buy (about 3/4 a month) generally get read from start to finish (it helps not having a TV at home ;-) ). Occasionally, the books are abandoned (for example, I was totally disappointed by Jules Pretty's "The Earth Only Endures" and couldn't stomach going beyond the first chapter). Some books are written so well that I devour them in one sitting – Derek Wall gave me a copy of his "No-Nonsense Guide to Green Politics" over the weekend - his writing is so eloquent and clear that I finished it before the weekend was over. But I'm also allowed up to 40 books from the OU library and many of these I just dip in to for specific information. Sometimes I do feel guilty about reading so much – it can be an excuse for procrastination and for not acting in the real world. So I need to keep a careful balance.....
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby jsp_1983 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:09 pm

I find myself at the opposite end - It's not that I don't read "enough", but that I find myself easily distracted and not having the right sort of time to read. I have a terrible habit of buying books with every intention of reading them, but not doing so. Penny books on Amazon are a particular bad habit...!

When I was younger I would read voraciously, often for several hours a day. Unfortunately, when I started secondary school, learning was much more systematic and there was the doling out of homework, which would often take an hour or two to complete each night. My love of learning, experimenting and reading ended there! Ever since secondary school, I've just not been able to break back into reading and learning, which can be such an enormous task for me. The experience of comprehensive school has left me very, very jaded indeed.

Not knowing anybody else who reads, seeing all these different book titles referenced left me wondering how other people use them - eg, cover to cover or just dipping in and out.

Talking of books that are hard to get into - The Web of Life. Impenetrable. Didn't get past the second chapter of pseudo-language.
jsp_1983
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:59 pm

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby Andrea on Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:18 am

jsp_1983 wrote:Talking of books that are hard to get into - The Web of Life. Impenetrable. Didn't get past the second chapter of pseudo-language.


that's interesting, 'cause I found 'The Web of Life' challenging, but very engaging. I do have a background in physics, biology and chemistry, so those parts didn't trouble me. It's the philosophical stuff that I find difficult.

I guess it's about a "stepping stone" approach – reading the books that are, say, 50% familiar and 50% challenging, with the hope that maybe 10% of the challenging stuff them becomes familiar, and then moving onto the next book which would have been 55% challenging, but is now 50% challenging :-)

I actually do that a lot when engaging with new stuff. For example, I recently had to become really familiar with "systemic grounded theory" – it's a qualitative methodology in the social sciences with its origins in the 1970s, but has recently taken a very strong systemic flavour. I'm getting a bit disillusioned by systemic action research, and want to explore a slightly different, but complementary, approach. So I went to the OU library and took out about 15 books – starting with a noddy book on "Researching Society and Culture" by Clive Seale, passing by "Constructing Grounded Theory: a Practical Guide" by Cathy Charmaz, and then ending with the hard-core and impenetrable 1970s books by Glaser and Strauss. I'm about halfway through now – some books have involved a bit more of a 5% jump in "challenge factor", but I think I'm getting there :-)
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: Books about biological systems and concepts

Postby Teiana on Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:10 pm

i wish i didn't have a telly.
H.R.H. 8-)
Teiana
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: planet earth

Next

Return to Book Club

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron