Top 10 Science Reads

November 16, 2016 | Kathryn Loydall

Open book. CREDIT: Comfreak / Pixabay
Photo credit: Comfreak / Pixabay

Top picks in books for science enthusiasts

1. White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine - by Carl Elliott

"By New Yorker and Atlantic writer Carl Elliott, a readable and even funny account of the serious business of medicine." 
For those interested in medicine, this is a must read!

2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - by Rebecca Skloot

We believe that every scientist should read this book! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a moving story that explores the conflict, history, and ethics of HeLa cells — taken from Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer who was suffering from an aggressive form of cancer, without her consent, they became the "building blocks" for various scientific breakthroughs. This story delves deep into the emotions and troubles felt by the Lacks' family, and raises important questions about ethics.

3. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void - by Mary Roach

In Packing for Mars, Roach writes in her usual inquisitive, hilarious way to address the science of space travel. Read about SPCA-certified space suits for chimps and coming up with menus fit for astronauts. As Lynette Mong (reviewer) says: "Packing for Mars is a book for grownups who still secretly dream of being astronauts."

4. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life - by Ed Yong

A fabulous gift for your microbiologist friend!

The Boston Globe says: “Not since de Kruif’s classic, “Microbe Hunters,’’ has this invisible world been brought so vividly to life… Yong’s curiosity and humor made me smile and even laugh out loud, much to my husband’s surprise. By the end of the book his sense of wonder for microbes was, well, infectious.”

5. Lab Girl - by Hope Jahren

This book would make a perfect gift for you nature lovers out there. Hope Jahren describes her relationship with science, as well as with her best friend and lab partner, Bill. They adventure across the United States, to the North Pole, and end up in tropical Hawaii, all in the name of science.

6. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything - by Chris Hadfield

By the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, this would appeal to any wannabe astronaut or space enthusiast!

7. Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout - by Lauren Redniss

"In 1891, 24-year-old Marie Sklodowska moved from Warsaw to Paris, where she found work in the laboratory of Pierre Curie, a scientist engaged in research on heat and magnetism. They fell in love. They took their honeymoon on bicycles. They expanded the periodic table, discovering two new elements with startling properties, radium and polonium. They recognized radioactivity as an atomic property, heralding the dawn of a new scientific era. They won the Nobel Prize. Newspapers mythologized the couple's romance, beginning articles on the Curies with "Once upon a time . . . " Then, in 1906, Pierre was killed in a freak accident. Marie continued their work alone. She won a second Nobel Prize in 1911, and fell in love again, this time with the married physicist Paul Langevin. Scandal ensued. Duels were fought." —

In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss uses material from her original reporting from scientists, bomb survivors and other people involved in or affected by radioactivity — including Marie Curie's own granddaughter — to describe Marie Curie's life and her impact on the world as we now know it. 

8. The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - by Andrea Wulf

A great read for anyone interested in environmentalism! The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World is a biography of German naturalist's life.

"Andrea Wulf brings Humboldt’s extraordinary life back into focus: his prediction of human-induced climate change; his daring expeditions to the highest peaks of South America and to the anthrax-infected steppes of Siberia; his relationships with iconic figures, including Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson; and the lasting influence of his writings on Darwin, Wordsworth, Goethe, Muir, Thoreau, and many others. Brilliantly researched and stunningly written, The Invention of Nature reveals the myriad ways in which Humboldt’s ideas form the foundation of modern environmentalism—and reminds us why they are as prescient and vital as ever." —

9. A Brief History of Time - by Stephen Hawking

A classic! What more can we say?

10. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882 - by Charles Darwin

The autobiography by the "father of evolution" himself, Charles Robert Darwin, the English naturalist and geologist.

From — "Loren Eiseley wrote: 'No man can pretend to know Darwin who does not know his autobiography. Here, for the first time since his death, it is presented complete and unexpurgated, as it exists in the family archives. It will prove invaluable to biographers and cast new light on the personality of one of the world's greatest scientists. Nora Barlow, Darwin's granddaughter, has proved herself a superb editor. Her own annotations make fascinating reading.' ''

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