I’m a huge fan of non fiction novels, and I love science books because they’re a great way to introduce yourself to a new field. Each of the following books contains fantastic research, is interesting and engaging, incredibly well-written, and will teach you something, regardless of your background in science. These books are also great for non-scientist types as they are more accessible than your typical academic book.
The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin
The Panic Virus gives a detailed account of the controversy surrounding vaccines, which began in a 1998 paper published by Andrew Wakefield. This paper presented false evidence that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Through interviews with public health officials, parents, and anti-vax activists, Mnookin explores the biology and safety issues surrounding vaccines, and the often terse relationship between science and the media. This book does a great job illustrating the disconnect between science and the general public and is therefore an excellent read for those with little science background, or for scientists who need an education in public relations.
Theatre of the Mind by Jay Ingram
Theatre of the Mind asks the question, “what is consciousness?” The book outlines various theories that attempt to answer this question. While the book delves into some complex neuroscience and psychology, Ingram’s narration is explanatory, amusing, insightful, and makes the subject matter extremely accessible to a reader without any background on the subject. The book highlights a variety of aspects of consciousness including free will, the evolution of the brain, dreams, and even animal consciousness! This book will change your entire perception of your thinking process
The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes
This book is definitely the most unique on this list. It chronicles the lives and major discoveries of botanist Sir Joseph Bank, astronomer William Herschel, and chemist Humphrey Davy during the romantic period and the early days of the Royal Society. It is fascinating and inspirational for anyone interested in history or science. In fact, this book is better written in its elaborate descriptions and inventive, fun narrative than most fiction books I’ve read.
Moonwalking with Einstein by Josh Foer
I’ll admit it, I haven’t finished this book! According to my Kobo I am 20% finished it at this point, but I am certain I will love the remaining 80%. So far the book is a first-hand account of the author, Josh Foers, and his quest to become a memory athlete. It is charmingly narrated and also offers useful advice on how to memorize and remember anything! Blending his first hand experience, a history lesson in memorization, some modern neuroscience and psychology – as well as a very amusing section on sexing chickens – this is a colorful must-read for anyone interesting in expanding their mind, or remembering random sequences thousands of numbers in length.
Sydney Rudko is a fourth year Infection and Immunity student interested in sharing all things science with interested people!