Ask a Book Question

Ask a Book Question: The 34th in a Series (Literary Science)

By posted at 4:12 pm on January 16, 2005 0

Brian sent me an email asking if we could recommend some books:

I’ve been wanting to read some science books lately, anything from pop-science Oliver Sacks type stuff, to the more esoteric… from astronomy to geology to bird-watching to physics, etc… I just don’t know where to start. You have any suggestions?

Oliver Sacks is a good author to start with, but there are a lot of other readable science books out there. One of my favorites is Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer-winning Guns, Germs, and Steel, which shows how the earth’s geography can explain why civilizations arose where they did. Diamond’s brand new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed is getting good reviews, too. John McPhee also has some books that might work for you. Annals of the Former World is a 700 page layman’s guide to the geology of the United States and The Control of Nature is a collection of essays about man’s attempts to tame and make use of natural resources. Brian Greene’s bestseller about string theory, The Elegant Universe rather painlessly delivers complex physics, and Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire explains how plants have evolved to use us as much as we use them creating a counter-intuitive symbiotic relationship. Beyond those you can’t go wrong with Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, and Edward O. Wilson. If please anyone else has suggestions, leave a comment.

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