In terms of entertainment there are two things that I really enjoy. I can do without TV, Movies, and even music to an extent (although I do REALLY enjoy music, especially anything originating from the 90’s and 2000’s), but when given the opportunity to entertain myself I nearly always chose either books or science podcasts. I love them. They bring me complete joy. So it should be no surprise that all year I await the arrival of one particular podcast. This podcast is called Science for the People: Science Books for Science Nerds. and you can listen to it here: http://www.scienceforthepeople.ca/episodes/science-books-for-science-nerds It comes out once a year, right before Christmas, and it’s phenomenal. Every year they interview Joanne Manaster, a science communicator, educator, and faculty lecturer in biology at the University of Illinois, and John Dupuis, a science librarian at York University, on the best and most memorable science books they have read for that year. What a way to mix science and books! I utilize this list to start my next year’s wish list of books to read. Also all of these books have links to Carmichael’s bookstore in Louisville. They do pickup and shipping. However, if you do not live at or near Louisville I implore you to purchase your books from an independent bookstore in your area. They need your money more than Amazon.
Due to this podcast, last year I added:
- Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham
- The First Cell: And the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last by Azra Raza
- The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
- Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
- That Wild Country: An Epic Journey through the Past, Present, and Future of America’s Public Lands by Mark Kenyon
- The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
- Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini (which I did buy)
Even though I only read The Body and Invisible Women the others are still on my list and I had already read these recommended books:
- The Uninhabitable Earth: A Story of the Future by David Wallace-Wells
- Prosperity without Growth by Tim Jackson
Of all the books I have read from this list, I recommend ALL OF THEM, like, more than recommend, it’s more of a “Go out and read them RIGHT NOW!”
The other thing I do with this podcast is imagine what MY books of the year would be, and I use this thought to motivate my entire list of books read throughout the year. This year I overshot my goal of 52 books and read 56 (that I kept track of on Goodreads). Only 14 were science related books, which was a little disappointing on my part. Most I rented from my local library earlier in the year, but below is a small stack of what I have read and what I still need to read.
This lack of science books is partly because most of my science reading is done with print books that I read while the kids are in school, or while I am at work. Due to the pandemic neither of these were a thing, therefor most of my books were audiobooks. I can listen while cooking, or driving, or working on the farm. It’s much harder to listen to science books because they require so much more attention and many of them aren’t in audiobook format. Regardless, I was able to put together a list of some of my favorites:
Book of the year: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. This book was mind blowing. I practically read the entire book out loud to Chris. If you are a woman, know a woman, was born from a woman, you need to read this book right now.
Other books I highly recommend:
The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson- A hilarious journey through the incredible nature of the human body, chock full of weird history and stories of medical research and development that will leave you going “ewwww, ohhhh, oh my!”. Once again, Bill Bryson does not disappoint.
The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century by Deborah Blum – This book will make you cringe at the thought of eating anything not made in your own kitchen, and will make you realize (if you haven’t already) that the government doesn’t always have your best interests in mind, even when it comes to public safety.
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis – A great introduction to how soil microbes affect your soil and how you can foster them. Great for a beginning (and even an experienced!) regenerative farmer.
When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney- This is a fantastic anthropological history of the forgotten, and misrepresented female rulers of Egypt, and how the struggles they faced are still being dealt with by today’s female leaders.
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson- Even though it’s not technically a science book, there are a lot of references to the scientific advancements of Britain during the Blitz. Also, Winston Churchill in a onesie, slippers, and helmet smoking a pipe and drinking, I’m just sayin’.
Now to this year’s list. I myself have a list of books (other than those not finished from last year) that I will be reading first. These are:
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini
Natural: How Faith in Nature’s Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science by Alan Levinovitz
Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us by Ruth Kassinger
And these are the books I am now adding to my list thanks to the podcast (this makes a GREAT Christmas wish list for me, hint hint, hahaha).
Fighting for Space: Two Pilots and Their Historic Battle for Female Spaceflight by Amy Shira Teitel
Science Fictions: How Fraud, Bias, Incompetence, and Hype Undermine the Search for Truth by Stuart Ritchie
Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future by Mary Robinson
The Future Earth: A Radical Vision for What’s Possible in the Age of Warming by Eric Holthaus
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac
Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker
Break ‘Em Up: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money by Zephyr Teachout
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake
Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science by Kim TallBear
Tasting Qualities: The Past and Future of Tea by Sarah Besky
Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis by Emily Willingham
Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman (author), translated by Elizabeth Manton and Erica Moore
I hope you have found a book or two you want to pick up! My challenge this year is to hit 75 books read with at least 25 being science books. Hopefully this means I will be adding some book reviews this year! Have a happy year of reading and please let me know if you have any science books you have read or want to read that you think I may like!!!
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