By McKenna Freiss
Are you someone who enjoys the idea of science but can’t seem to wrap your head around it? Was science your worst subject in school? Do you skip over the science/non-fiction section when you’re browsing in a bookshop?
Don’t worry. We understand, and we’re here to provide you with a list of science books that even the biggest science haters can get behind. These five books are sure to educate in a way that is way more entertaining than your 9th grade science class.
THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT: AND OTHER CLINICAL TALES by OLIVER SACKS
“This book ranks with the very best of its genre. It will inform and entertain anyone, especially those who find medicine an intriguing and mysterious art.”
- Kirkus Reviews
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is by far the oldest on the list, having been published in 1985. Still, this anthology of real stories by neurologist Oliver Sacks is remarkably relevant. Sacks details his studies of strange and incredulous mental conditions, presenting it in an anecdotal fashion with stories of real patients (and yes, the title is a real occurrence). It’s an examination of abnormal psychology that serves not only as an informative work, but a philosophical commentary on the strength of humanity.
GROUND TRUTH by RUBY MCCONNELL
“Overall, Ground Truth is a highly readable little paperback with many interesting anecdotes and takeaways for readers. “
Ground Truth is a newly published geology essay collection by Ruby McConnell that explores the Pacific Northwest -- specifically the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. St. Helens in May of 1980. Interweaved with memoir, this book is a poetic examination on our environmental crisis as well as the concept of home. McConnell combines the science with the personal, creating a compelling narrative that is sure to keep you invested.
A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING by BILL BRYSON
“The prose is just as one would expect - energetic, quirky, familiar and humorous. Bryson's great skill is that of lightly holding the reader's hand throughout; building up such trust that topics as recondite as atomic weights, relativity and particle physics are shorn of their terrors.”
- The Guardian
Not sure where to start on your scientific journey? Why not start with…well, everything? “A Short History of Nearly Everything” originated by Bill Bryson’s own struggle with science. For him, science was always a distant and unexplained subject, and dissatisfied with his lack of scientific knowledge, he set out to create a book that would not only inform but entertain. Bryson explores some of the greatest scientific discoveries of history from the big bang, to the history of geology, to the beginning of human civilization; all while keeping a witty, humorous, and easy-to-read tone.
THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS: A SURPRISING EXPLORATION INTO THE WONDER OF CONSCIOUSNESS by SY MONTGOMERY
“The Soul of an Octopus opens your eyes to the natural world around you and leaves you with new-found knowledge and compassion for the world, you come to realize, you have largely overlooked.”
- Baldwin Hills Greenhouse
Sy Montgomery, a journalist and naturalist, details the strange friendships she formed with octopi in her studies of them. Profound and funny, Montgomery shows us what we can learn from octopuses, and shows just how much we share with the world around us. This is a perfect fit for those who aren’t interested in a hardcore science book, as Montgomery is more focused on her personal journey in science and the affect these foreign creatures had on her.
BLACK HOLE: HOW AN IDEA ABANDONED BY NEWTONIANS, HATED BY EINSTEIN, AND GAMBLED ON BY HAWKING BECAME LOVED by MARCIA BARTUSIAK
“Bartusiak expertly tells the story of the emergence of black holes, and the redemption of general relativity, offering just enough about the science to provide a layperson with a grasp without bogging the reader down with equations or weightier details.”
-The Space Review
Astronomers and physicists have argued about the strange phenomenon of black holes for decades. In Black Hole, a history of the phenomenon of the same name, Bartusiak recounts these heated, thrilling, and sometimes comical debates over one of science’s most baffling ideas. This book provides insight on how scientists work and think, whilst exploring the mystery of the black hole---without any clunky equations or overt scientific terms.
Read any of these books? Have any more suggestions? Head over to our post on Instagram associated with this blog post and let us know what you think.