With Memorial Day here, summer is just around the corner. It’s time to kick back, enjoy the sunbreaks and read! We polled IDRI to see what people are reading (and what they’d recommend) from the science perspective.
Chris Fox recommends “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” By Siddhartha Mukherjee, which follows the disease from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago to the continued modern-day fight to find a cure.
Chronicling Mao’s famous campaign against snail fever, “Farewell to the God of Plague: Chairman Mao’s Campaign to Deworm China” by Miriam Gross is “a bit dry” says Darrick Carter. But, he added it’s a good read about schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that IDRI is teaming up with collaborators to develop a vaccine against.
Tanya Parish reports that she just started reading “Factfulness” by the late Hans Rosling, the man who made data and statistics come to life through interactive graphics and was famous for his TED talks. “It’s a book about real data showing that the world is getting better in areas including global health and how we are often wrong in our thoughts or impressions of how the world really is,” Tanya explains. If you need more validation that Rosling’s book is worth reading, check out Bill Gates’ opinion in his just-published “5 Books Worth Reading This Summer.”
You might have seen the movie, but don’t miss the book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly. “If you enjoyed the film, the book is a must read,” says Heather Wescott. “It is a really wonderfully researched and well written story about many brilliant women who blazed paths for other women mathematicians and engineers to follow.”
Another great science and history-related read Heather suggests is “The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World” by Steven Johnson. “The cholera outbreak in 1854 ravaged London, and the book is a fascinating examination of intertwined stories about the spread of disease, contagion theory, the rise of big cities and the nature of scientific inquiry,” she said.
The IDRI Book Club – made up of a cross-section of scientists and administrative types – is about to tackle “Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Worst and Best” by Robert M. Sapolsky, which comes with all sorts of accolades, including being named a “Best Book of the Year” by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. It answers the question “Why do we do the things we do?”
And, finally, IDRI is home to author/scientist Winston Wicomb, who penned “Vital Remains: Winston Wicomb, the Heart Transplant Pioneer Apartheid Could Not Stop.” The book follows Winston’s journey as a mixed race child during the years of apartheid in South Africa through his years working alongside heart transplant pioneer Dr. Christiaan Barnard.