Science made fun and easy

Reading recommendations from our staff

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By Oak Park Public Library

Reading science books might not be at the top of your list this summer, especially for those of you out of school. But you'd be surprised that some science books are not only good summer reads, but fun as well as informative. Here are a few that staff at the library rave about:

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery and Structure of DNA by James Watson
This is a great book about how science is actually done, the thorough processes, the rush to beat your peers, and the amazingly smart minds that figure things out. James Watson was only 26 or 27, so in with all the genius is the story of an incredibly ambitious young guy trying to make ends meet, play some tennis, and meet some girls. It's a fun little book. --Evelyn Nisbett, Maze Branch Library

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
I really like all of her books, but my favorite is this history of the use of human cadavers in science. It is not a "dry" science book at all. She goes back in time to look at how cadavers have helped further science, from use by medical students, to the work of The Body Farm, to testing guillotines. It is a fascinating book written with a lot of humor that makes this the one book I recommend to everyone I know. Other good books by Mary Roach are Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void which is about the space program.
--Sue Vercnocke, Maze Branch Library

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I really enjoyed Skloot's ability to convey the social repercussions of scientific research. Her account is riveting and a highly readable work of nonfiction.
--Jessica Roble-Cinelli, Maze Branch Library

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad
Boyd examines the history, benefits, and risks of yoga by investigating scientific and not-so-scientific claims that have been made since yoga's beginnings in India. Broken down into chapters on mental, physical, and sexual health, The Science of Yoga looks beyond the mysticism that many associate with the practice to examine the physiogical benefits and dangers yoga can cause.
--Rebecca Malinowski, Adult and Teen Services

The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson
The authors take an informative look at some of the most curious characteristics of 100 animals. For example, an Angolan monkey's burp is actually a friendly greeting. Golden poison dart frogs are no bigger than a bottle cap but each one contains enough toxins to kill 10 humans. Green woodpeckers are also known as rain-birds—hearing their distinctive laughing call means rain is on its way. This book contains much fun and fact-filled information.  
--Rashmi Swain, Adult and Teen Services

Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by J. Anderson Thomson Jr.
I enjoyed this book because it is very concise, clear, and written for laypeople about the topic of evolutionary psychology. The explanations are very logical and scientific without seeming too opinionated. It isn't focused on disproving religion, just explaining how the brain processes certain information into religious belief. It's a very quick and very fascinating little book.
--Jien Ra, Customer Service

See, all sorts of books can be thrilling! Ask us for even more recommendations and be sure to join our summer reading program for all ages.

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