This is my second discussion post for Non-Fiction November, an exciting event celebrating non-fiction hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie at Regular Ruminations. Every Monday this month, a discussion question will be posted. Then each Friday there will be a link-up for discussion posts and non-fiction reviews, with each linky entry entered in a prize drawing at the end of the month! Today’s topic is…
Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Share a list of nonfiction books on a topic you know a lot about. Or, ask for some advice for books on a particular topic. Or, put together a list of nonfiction books on a topic you’re curious about.
As someone who does a lot of science reading for work, I’m surprised that I can still enjoy reading about science for fun. Fortunately, in popular science books compared to professional papers there are far fewer details and far more attempts to make the subject interesting to the non-expert. As such, they can require far less brain power to read and can be enjoyed by a much wider audience. If you don’t have a science background, but are interested in what the life of a scientist it like or are interested in a topic like sports or politics that some scientific analysis can help explain, here are some books I’d recommend for you:
The Signal and The Noise is written by a statistician who created a model that does an impressive job predicting election winners. He includes lots of great graphs that make complex topics much easier to follow. In addition to learning about stats, you’ll learn all sorts of fun facts that people have discerned using statistical methods.
Microcosm does the best job of any book I’ve read at giving a glimpse into the life of a scientist. Especially for biologists, the day-to-day work can be rote and mundane, but the big picture is awe-inspiring. If you’re thinking of going into the sciences, this would be a great book to read.
The Sports Gene was so well written that it was easy to follow even though I knew nothing about the topic before I started and it was interesting even though sports aren’t my favorite subject. I was also very impressed by the nuanced conclusions the author drew. He also handled sensitive issues like race and gender with great delicacy.
The Lives of a Cell is a collection of short but thought-provoking essays which was sometimes humorous, sometimes inspiring, and always an insightful, approachable look at some of the wonders of biology. I would particularly recommend this to people who do lab work because it’s a great reminder of how wonderful biology is, even the things that become rote in the lab.
The Emperor of All Maladies is elegantly written, with both scientific precision and human empathy, both historical interest and fascinating stories about people. It’s also one of the best written books I’ve ever read.