Just for Fun – Science Related Summer Reading

By on May 28, 2014

With Memorial Day just past and summer quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to have a blog on good books related to scientific topics. Colleagues often recommended science reading to me and I try to read as many science related books as I can, so I thought I would share a few recommendations and encourage the rest of our readers to add their favorites to the list. I am starting the list with 8 books for adults and for parents with budding scientists – 3 books for kids. I would really like to hear comments and suggestions from others so we can build the list. Please post your recommendations in the comments section and I will add them to the blog.

Happy Reading!

Adults:

Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases

Author: Paul A. Offit

From Amazon Description: Maurice Hilleman is the father of modern vaccines. Chief among his accomplishments are nine vaccines that practically every child gets, rendering formerly deadly diseases—including mumps, rubella, and measles—nearly forgotten. Author Paul A. Offit’s rich and lively narrative details Hilleman’s research and experiences as the basis for a larger exploration of the development of vaccines, covering two hundred years of medical history and traveling across the globe in the process. The history of vaccines necessarily brings with it a cautionary message, as they have come under assault from those insisting they do more harm than good. Paul Offit clearly and compellingly rebuts these arguments, and, by demonstrating how much the work of Hilleman and others has gained for humanity, shows us how much we have to lose.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author: Rebecca Skloot

From Amazon Description: Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Author: Siddhartha Mukherjee

From Amazon Description: WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.

Polio: An American Story

Author: David M. Oshinsky

From Amazon Description: Here David Oshinsky tells the gripping story of the polio terror and of the intense effort to find a cure, from the March of Dimes to the discovery of the Salk and Sabin vaccines–and beyond. Drawing on newly available papers of Jonas Salk, Albert Sabin and other key players, Oshinsky paints a suspenseful portrait of the race for the cure, weaving a dramatic tale centered on the furious rivalry between Salk and Sabin. He also tells the story of Isabel Morgan, perhaps the most talented of all polio researchers, who might have beaten Salk to the prize if she had not retired to raise a family. Both a gripping scientific suspense story and a provocative social and cultural history, Polio opens a fresh window onto postwar America.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Author: John M. Barry

From Amazon Description: At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, The Great Influenza is ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, which provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon. John M. Barry has written a new afterword for this edition that brings us up to speed on the terrible threat of the avian flu and suggest ways in which we might head off another flu pandemic.

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Author: Steven Johnson

From Amazon Description: It’s the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time. In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.

The Demon in the Freezer – A True Story

Author: Richard Preston

From Amazon Description: The first major bioterror event in the United States-the anthrax attacks in October 2001-was a clarion call for scientists who work with “hot” agents to find ways of protecting civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon in the Freezer, his first nonfiction book since The Hot Zone, a #1 New York Times bestseller, Richard Preston takes us into the heart of Usamriid, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of national biodefense.

Kids:

The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity-Challenge the World Around You!

Author: Tom Robinson

From Amazon Description: Science has never been so easy–or so much fun! With The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book, all you need to do is gather a few household items and you can recreate dozens of mind-blowing, kid-tested science experiments. High school science teacher Tom Robinson shows you how to expand your scientific horizons–from biology to chemistry to physics to outer space.

The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur (Valuetales)

Author: Spencer Johnson

From Amazon Description: Retells the story of Louis Pasteur, whose unwavering belief in the concept of germs led to a cure for rabies.

The Best Book of Bugs

Author: Claire Llewellyn

From Amazon Description: The Best Book of Bugs looks at the life cycles, habitats, and amazing diversity of insects and spiders in stunning close-up detail. This book has everything a young etymologist would ever want to know.

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