David, aka whysharksmatter, at Southern Fried Science tagged me in the latest internet meme to go around: Science Book Lover’s meme. Unfortunately, I’m still living in temporarily limbo as I’m waiting to close on my house so most of what I own, including my beloved books, has been in storage since last September. So you will get a list of books that I can think up off the top of my head that made an impression on me when I decided (late in life) science was for me. In no particular order
1) Chaos by James Gleick – Made math fun and interesting for me. One of the first science books I read when I was deciding to go into science… my third time around college…
2) Invertebrates by Brusca & Brusca – Yeah not supposed to cite textbooks, but I read this for pleasure so it counts : )
3) Stranger and the Statesman by Nina Burleigh – It was the most recent book I finished. An interesting account of James Smithson, the financial founder for the Smithsonian Museum.
4) E=mc2: A History of the World’s Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis – Another book I read early in my scientific life that made science something enjoyable to learn about!
5) Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist by Adrian Desmond and James Moore – Expertly done masterpiece of Darwin’s life. One of the few books I read constantly and could not put down (Dune being the another one). Filled with action, culture, history, context and much more. Should be required reading for biology majors.
6) Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers – While not a science book, I feel scientists need to develop an appreciation for the world around them. Honing in on the bigger picture and interconnectedness of all things. Poets have been doing this long before science was a glimmer of light upon the dawn of reason. One of my favorite poets is Robinson Jeffers who was trained in forestry and medicine before settling into Tor House in Carmel, CA and living an idyllic life by the coast as a writer and bohemian. I’ll leave you all with a poem that could be read in any introductory ecology, marine biology or geology lecture, and indeed I shall if I ever teach once more:
At the equinox when the earth was veiled in a late rain,
wreathed with wet poppies, waiting spring,
The ocean swelled for a far storm and beat its boundary,
the ground-swell shook the beds of granite.
I gazing at the boundaries of granite and spray, the
established sea-marks, felt behind me
Mountain and plain, the immense breadth of the continent,
before me the mass and doubled stretch of water.
I said: You yoke the Aleutian seal-rocks with the lava
and coral sowings that flower the south,
Over your flood the life that sought the sunrise faces
ours that has followed the evening star.
The long migrations meet across you and it is nothing
to you, you have forgotten us, mother.
You were much younger when we crawled out of the womb
and lay in the sun’s eye on the tideline.
It was long and long ago; we have grown proud since then
and you have grown bitter; life retains
Your mobile soft unquiet strength; and envies hardness,
the insolent quietness of stone.
The tides are in our veins, we still mirror the stars,
life is your child, but there is in me
Older and harder than life and more impartial, the eye
that watched before there was an ocean.
That watched you fill your beds out of the condensation
of thin vapor and watched you change them,
That saw you soft and violent wear your boundaries down,
eat rock, shift places with the continents.
Mother, though my song’s measure is like your surf-beat’s
ancient rhythm I never learned it of you.
Before there was any water there were tides of fire, both
our tones flow from the older fountain.
I won’t tag anyone but would love to ask our readers (and my cobloggers) what non-text science books they would recommend to young science majors?