Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Past blog posts have highlighted top science books like The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, so now let’s take a look at some other works that are also on the New York Times bestselling science list. All of the books mentioned here can be found on the shelves at the Monrovia Public Library.

Two books are particularly interesting because they have remained popular with individual readers and book groups for several years. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman is about a culture clash between an immigrant Laotian Hmong family with a severely ill epileptic daughter and the California doctors and nurses who address the child’s medical issues. Western medicine versus a belief in the power of the spirit world is the focus of this fascinating and highly readable book. 

Race permeates the news, but it also rears its ugly head in science. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks author Rebecca Skloot tells the story of an African American woman in 1963 whose cancer cells are harvested without her knowledge and eventually become the source through which companies make money, none of which benefits the late woman’s family. This is a terrific read.

The life of tech entrepreneur and Internet start-up wizard is told in the biography Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance. From a tough childhood in South Africa to involvement in PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Musk is compared to other captains of industry and also viewed as someone who always focuses on the future and not the past. Biography fans who may not be techies will also find this a fascinating and compelling book.
In Thinking Fast and Slow author Daniel Kahneman shares his idea that humans are hardwired through evolution to address problems quickly instead of taking them on in a methodical way. Who would think that a book about cognition would be entertaining, but it is just that. Another book that sparks new ideas is Quiet by Susan Cain which promotes the idea that introverts are not always respected in a world where self-promoting extroverts often get to the head of the class.

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