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Archive for 'Science & Nature'

Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America

Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America (2019) Christopher Wylie How did a gay, liberal, Canadian end up one of the architects of Cambridge Analytica–the company behind interference in multiple elections in 2016? It’s a long story, and involves everything from greed to psychological warfare to a desired to see how just far […]

18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics

18 Tiny Deaths: The Untold Story of Frances Glessner Lee and the Invention of Modern Forensics (2020) Bruce Goldfarb Frances Glessner Lee, daughter of wealthy Chicago socialites, ended up becoming the mother of Forensic Medicine. However, she did so not only without a medical degree, but she didn’t even have a high school diploma, teaching […]

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (2004/2009/2018) John M. Barry I started this immediately after finishing Gina Kolata‘s book on the flu. Interestingly, these books work well together. This book looks at things up to and during the outbreak, Kolata’s book is during and after the outbreak. This book covers […]

Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It

Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It (1999) Gina Kolata I’d been wanting to re-read Flu for years, however, I the digital version never went on sale. But when the Covid-19 pandemic started, it went on sale one day, and I snatched it […]

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist (1994) Dr. William Maples I’ll be honest. I bought this on sale, so the fact I only paid a dollar or two for it colors my opinion. If I’d paid full price, I’d have liked it a lot less. Take that […]

Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment

Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment (2006) David Bodanis In France (and Europe) ~1706-1749 Unless you are a geek or a mathematician (or perhaps astronomer) you probably have never heard of Emilie du Chatelet. Not because she lacked achievements, but because she achieved those things as a […]

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love (1999) Dava Sobel I read this a long time ago. Possibly soon after it came out. So when I needed some non-fiction bedtime reading, I decided to read it again. This book is based upon Galileo’s “124 surviving letters from the once-voluminous correspondence he carried […]

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (2014) Randall Munroe I adore xkcd. It’s often funny, sometimes enthralling, and almost always makes you think. So when Randall Munroe wrote a book based upon his What If answers, I snatched it up. Because: Randall Munroe. But I bought the actual physical book, so it […]

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013) Mary Roach (T)he complete collection of her “My Planet” articles published in Reader’s Digest. She was a hit columnist in the magazine, and this book features the articles she wrote in that time. I adore Mary Roach’s writing. She makes me laugh, but also writes about […]

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013) Mary Roach I love Mary Roach. I would love to be trapped in an elevator with her (unless she’s claustrophobic, in which case, that seems unfair). She is a science fan-girl of the best kind, and is unafraid to get into the nitty gritty details (and believe me, […]

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012 (2012) Edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger I’ve mentioned before that I read non-fiction before bed. I like it, it’s interesting, but it doesn’t keep me awake, wanting to know what happens next. I’m especially fond of science writing, because I like science. So the Best […]

Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History

Lives of the Trees: An Uncommon History (2010) Diana Wells Well. That only took about six months to read. Maybe more. That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting, and that I didn’t learn lots of fascinating stuff. But it was very good bedtime reading. I have to say, one of the things I’ve come to […]

Angel Killer: A True Story of Cannibalism, Crime Fighting, and Insanity in New York City

Angel Killer: A True Story of Cannibalism, Crime Fighting, and Insanity in New York City (2012) Deborah Blum If you’re looking for a light happy story–this is not the correct place to look. This is a true crime history of a man who kidnapped, tortured–and in some cases–at children. That’s now why I read this. […]

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 (2011) edited by Mary Roach and Tim Folger I’ll admit I bought this because 1) it was on sale and 2) because it was edited by Mary Roach. I have no idea is Mary Roach is a good editor or not on her own, but I love […]

Hush Money

Hush Money (2010) Susan Bischoff Several months ago I read the story Impulse Control, set in the same world as Hush Money, and really liked it. So I bought Hush Money, and then kept thinking, “I don’t think I want to read this right now.” I don’t know why I do these things. Something happened, […]

Botany for Gardeners

Botany for Gardeners: Third Edition (2010) Brian Capon It’s been a long time since my botany classes in college. A long time. I’ve recently found myself trying to remember basic botany / plant physiology / plant geography etc recently, but as all my college text books are long gone, I decided I needed a refresh. […]

A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America

A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America (1988) John Kircher and Gordon Morrison A long time ago, way back when I was in college, I studied Biology with a focus on plants. Because I love plants. I think they’re fascinating. When we had apartments, I always had houseplants, and once we had our own […]

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History

Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History (2011) Bill Laws I like to read non-fiction books. First, I like learning stuff, and second, non-fiction is generally good to read before bed, since it tends to lack suspense and surprises. Fifty Plants that Changed the Course of History cover a lot of plants, focusing on […]

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements (2010) Sam Kean This was a fun book. Although I was initially a little unsure, once we got to the part where he explained the big bang and it completely made sense […]

Newton and the Counterfeiter

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist (2009) Thomas Levenson The first third of the book is simply a biography of Newton, from his childhood up until he took the position of Warden of the Mint in London. Although it was interesting, I’m not certain the background had a […]

Food Matters

Food Matters (2009) Mark Bittman I really like Mark Bittman’s cookbooks. His How to Cook Everything is well written, clear and concise. So when I heard he’d written something of a food manifesto a la Michael Pollan, I was very curious to see what he had to say. First, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan […]

In Defense of Food

In Defense of Food: An Easter’s Manifesto (2008) Michael Pollan After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma I picked up In Defense of Food to see what he had to say about the Western Diet and what most Americans eat. OK. I have to admit that I didn’t particularly learn a lot reading this book, because I’ve […]

The Omnivore’s Dilemma

The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006) Michael Pollan I picked up The Omnivore’s Dilemma a year or so ago, and it sat by the bed, waiting to be read for the longest time. However, once I gave up trying to finish Herodotus, I started to enjoy reading non-fiction again, and was able to pick-up and read The […]

The Planets

The Planets (2005) Dava Sobel Several years ago I read and thoroughly enjoyed Galileo’s Daughter, and when I found The Planets in paperback and a 4-for-3 sale, I decided to pick it up. The Planets looks at–unsurprisingly–the planets. Including (since it was published in 2005) Pluto. Although as a whole I thoroughly enjoyed it, there […]

Spook

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005) Mary Roach As much as I enjoyed Stiff, I found Spook disappointing. As a scientific look at life after death, excluding the last couple chapters, it read more as a debunking than a presentation. Of course that’s partially because several chapters deal with things like ectoplasm exuding from mediums, […]

Stiff

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003) Mary Roach I was wandering the bookstore and Stiff was sitting on one of the display tables, one of the “Recommended Summer Reading” tables or something like that. I’d heard a review or interview or something like that when it first came out, but never ran across […]

Taking the Red Pill

Taking the Red Pill Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix Glenn Yeffeth ed We’re not going to discuss my somewhat obsessive interest in The Matrix. Let’s just say it’s one of those things and move along. Obviously, this book is not of interest to you if you did not like The Matrix or are […]