What to Read to learn about Science


This week’s topic from Long and Short Reviews is: What to Read to Learn About X. I choose science. (Tanith Davenport has some on The War of the Roses. Great for history buffs.)

I was a humanities person. I enjoyed the few science classes that I took in college well enough, but I was never particularly outstanding. My love of history and literature won out. And mathematics…my last venture in the world of math was calculus and the only proof I have of that is a door stopper textbook gathering dust in my parent’s house for the last 25 years. I’ve never looked at it sense, and I couldn’t begin to do any of it, even though, apparently at some point in my life I did.

But I love reading about science. Occasionally, I would read Scientific American or Wired just because it was around and I kind of wanted to know what was going on in the world that didn’t involve celebrities, make-up tips, or man-finding quests. I read a lot on my work lunch breaks. I was bored with my data entry job and for various reasons, not keen to have lunch with my colleagues. I learned a lot.

There are a few books that I have about science and scientists, most of which I re-read from time to time:


The Code Book Simon Singh: a history of code-breaking and encryption. All the math you thought you’d never understand it explained in readable prose. It even makes solving equations sound fun.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind  Yuval Noah Hariri: a historical overview of biology and history-showing our split form the other sapiens to be the only Homo sapiens.Whether or not you agree with his conclusions about where humanity is headed or why civilizations arise as they do, it is interesting.


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Sklott: this is about Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells are now used for cancer research. It’s really a study about medical ethics-or lack thereof and how poverty and racism affects access to care and the uncomfortable history of racism in medical research.. It will make you angry, but it is a good book.


Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly: one of my favorite books which was made into one of my favorite movies.I even have a Katherine Johnson limited edition Barbie. The book covers more of the early years of NASA; many of the Black engineers and woman in early science. Very interesting and well researched.


Starman: The Truth Behind the Legend of Yuri Gagarin Piers Bizony and Jamie Doran: April 12, 1961 Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first to leave the earth’s atmosphere and venture into space. This covers the events leading up to the historic trip; Gagarin’s early life (trust, we have it easy nowadays) and the turn his life took after the trip and the politics that entered the space race.


16 thoughts on “What to Read to learn about Science

  1. Oh, we have very similar tastes in nonfiction!

    Have you seen the film version of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? I thought it was done pretty well, although I wish there had been more about Henrietta and less about the journalist who investigated her life.

    My post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So far, its great. I have to say there are moments where I’m a little grossed out, but I’m looking at the situation with 2019 perspectives. That’s so different than 1919 ones. Radium wasn’t considered bad back then. They had radium toothpaste! Eek!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is hard to realize that people just didn’t know the long term affects of lots of substances. Kinda scary, actually.


  2. So, “Timeless” did an episode about the ladies in “Hidden Figures”. It was so interesting! Love that show, btw. It made history fun and fascinating and real.

    I had to look up “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” as I’d never heard of her. I’m definitely interested in reading, so thank you for the share!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ah, so that’s what The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is about. Geez. I see the book everywhere but haven’t ever stopped to read the blurb. Sounds fascinating. This is a great list, honestly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s worth reading. It’s not an easy to take read…it may make you angry/sad. But well worth the time.


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