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Pre-TED2010 reading list: 8 picks from TED's June Cohen

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In the weeks before TED — amid frenetic preparations for the conference — I always steal a few calm moments, surrounded by stacks of books by this year’s speakers. It’s one of my favorite pre-TED rituals. Of course, there’s no hope of finishing them all. But I like to immerse myself in at least a few chapters of each, so I can meet the speaker where they are, and understand the conversation they’re having with the world.

This year, I tweeted about it, and got many requests to share the list. And so, here they are …

Pre-TED reads 1/9: Denialism, by Michael Specter @specterm. How fear of science is preventing progress. Powerful. Loved.

Pre-TED reads 2/9: The Art Instinct, by Denis Dutton (of @aldaily) Beautiful prose arguing that art is a human universal.

Pre-TED reads 3/9: Connected, by Nicholas Christakis @connected_book The shocking proof of how deeply we’re affected by our friends’ friends.

Pre-TED reads 4/9: The Wisdom of Whores, by @ElizabethPisani How POORLY we spend billions of $ trying to prevent AIDS

Pre-TED reads 5/9: I Am an Emotional Creature, by Eve Ensler. Embrace your inner girl!

Pre-TED reads 6/9: Whole Earth Discipline, by Stewart Brand. Environmentalism reconsidered, for the realities of a new era. Or: Why nuclear power, GM foods & squatter cities are green.

Pre-TED reads 7/9: No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale, by George Whitesides. Tiny, lovely things in image & prose

Pre-TED reads 8/9: This Will Change Everything, edited by John Brockman @edge. Short, sharp essays by who’s who of TED world. I think one could safely call this “brain candy.”

Pre-TED reads 9/9: Fair Game, by Valerie Plame Wilson, the ‘outed’ CIA agent, who’ll talk at TED about the need for nuclear disarmament. I’m fascinated by this woman!

And, finally, pre-TED listening: Natalie Merchant’s 1st studio album in 7 yrs. Soon-to-be released: Leave Your Sleep Love, love, love.