Too often, even the most avid book lover forgets the joys of non-fiction. More specifically, we sometimes forget that science, when written in the right way, can be both approachable and fascinating for even the most resistant audience. Here are just a few great books bound to widen your horizons and teach you something new about the world we live in.
1. Virus Hunters of the CDC
For those who have read Richard Preston’s Hot Zone and enjoyed it, Virus Hunters of the CDC is the better, more scientifically accurate read. The book, by Doctors Joseph B. McCormick and Susan Fisher-Hoch, delves into their time working for the Center for Disease Control, and discusses fascinating viral diseases such as Lassa Fever and Ebola.
The novel offers insight into disease from the experience of both doctors, now married, who worked with various viruses in third world countries. Hot Zone is a good book for capturing the interest of the layman, and is easily understandable. For those looking for a slightly less dramatized but still fascinating glance into the strange and thrillingly brilliant functioning of deadly viral infections, consider McCormick and Hoch’s book.
Mary Roach offers a morbid, but truly amazing look at what happens to human bodies after they cease living. Through extensive research and interviews, Roach takes readers everywhere from crash test dummies to medical school cadaver funerals, to the detailed study of decomposition — and much farther still.
It may seem that a book written on such a deathly grave — if you’ll excuse the phrasing — topic might be nothing but dark and depressing. However, quite often, Roach manages to elicit laughter from even the most disgusting or dark subject matter, proving that even death can indeed be amusing. She also shows the numerous ways human bodies continue to be useful in serving the saftey, health, and protection of those still alive.
Written by Frans De Waal and Frans Lanting, Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape teaches readers about one of the more interesting primates species. Bonobos have fascinating group structures with unique uses for sexual interaction, and with interesting female roles in the troups.
The complex and interconnected relations of the species, as well as the theories surrounding their relations makes them interesting even for those who might not have any particular interest in natural science. As for those who consider themselves layman Jane Goodalls, Bonobos are just as fascinating — if not more-so.
Though at times a little dry, Forty Studies that Changed Psychology by Dr. Roger R. Hock is a crash course in some of the most fascinating psychological studies and research performed in the field. The book ranges over a whole history of psychological research. It covers childhood development and split brain research, William Dement’s sleep study on the dream’s role in waking functionality, and classics like Pavlov’s dogs and Zimbardo’s prison study.
While correlation doesn’t imply causation, these studies have helped to hint at answers to some of the biggest questions about the human mind and body. Why do we avoid responsibility more when others are around to take up the slack? How important is authority in determining our actions? When do babies start recognizing danger?
There are times when science borders on art, and Hidden Worlds by Stephen Kramer and photographed by Ennis Kunkel is a perfect example. There are sights that only scientists are lucky enough to see on a regular basis, and Hidden Worlds allows us to share their eyes for a time.
The book is intended for younger audiences, but let’s be real — we all are a child at heart when it comes to sticking our noses in places they don’t belong — especially if those places are as far beyond the scope of a normal human eye as space or the bottom of the sea.