Home About Us Catalog Borrowing Services Resources Programs & Events Locations

Best Science Book Picks with Reviews
Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist by John Brockman
What makes a child decide to become a scientist? In this fascinating collection of essays, twenty-seven of the world's most interesting scientists write about the moments and events in their childhoods that set them on the paths that would define their lives. Click here to read a review from PLOS Biology.

The Anatomist: The True Story of Gray’s Anatomy by Bill Hayes
The classic medical text known as Gray’s Anatomy is one of the most famous books ever written. Acclaimed science writer and master of narrative nonfiction Bill Hayes has written the fascinating, never-before-told true story of how this seminal volume came to be. Click here to read a review from BookReporter.com.

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson
From the acclaimed New York Times science writer George Johnson, an irresistible book on the ten most fascinating experiments in the history of science—moments when a curious soul posed a particularly eloquent question to nature and received a crisp, unambiguous reply. Click here to read a review from Discover Magazine.

Miss Leavitt’s Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe by George Johnson
How big is the universe? In the early twentieth century, scientists took sides. One held that the entire universe was contained in the Milky Way galaxy. Another camp believed that the universe was so vast that the Milky Way was just one galaxy among billions—the view that would prevail. Almost forgotten is the Harvard Observatory "computer"—a human number cruncher hired to calculate the positions and luminosities of stars in astronomical photographs—who found the key to the mystery. Radcliffe-educated Henrietta Swan Leavitt, fighting ill health and progressive deafness, stumbled upon a new law that allowed astronomers to use variable stars—those whose brightness rhythmically changes—as a cosmic yardstick. Click here to read a review from the Los Angeles Times.

Copernicus’ Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began by Jack Repcheck
Copernicus' Secret recreates the life and world of the scientific genius whose work revolutionized astronomy and altered our understanding of our place in the world. It tells the surprising, little-known story behind the dawn of the scientific age. Click here to read a review from the International Herald Tribune.

The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity by Jack Repcheck
There are three men whose contributions helped free science from the straitjacket of theology. Two of the three-Nicolaus Copernicus and Charles Darwin-are widely known and heralded for their breakthroughs. The third, James Hutton, never received the same recognition, yet he profoundly changed our understanding of the earth and its dynamic forces. Hutton proved that the earth was likely millions of years old rather than the biblically determined six thousand, and that it was continuously being shaped and re-shaped by myriad everyday forces rather than one cataclysmic event. Click here to read a review from Curled Up with a Good Book.

Bottlemania: How Water Went for Sale and Why We Bought It by Elizabeth Royte
An incisive, intrepid, and habit-changing narrative investigation into the commercialization of our most basic human need: drinking water. In this intelligent, eye-opening work of narrative journalism, Elizabeth Royte does for water what Eric Schlosser did for fast food: she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that bring it from nature to our supermarkets. Along the way, she investigates the questions we must inevitably answer. Who owns our water? What happens when a bottled-water company stakes a claim on your town’s source? Should we have to pay for water? Is the stuff coming from the tap completely safe? And if so, how many chemicals are dumped in to make it potable? What’s the environmental footprint of making, transporting, and disposing of all those plastic bottles? Click here to read a review from the New York Times.

Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life by Carl Zimmer
In the tradition of classics like Lewis Thomas's Lives of a Cell, Carl Zimmer has written a fascinating and utterly accessible investigation of what it means to be alive. Zimmer traces E. coli's remarkable history, showing how scientists used it to discover how genes work and then to launch the entire biotechnology industry. While some strains of E. coli grab headlines by causing deadly diseases, scientists are retooling the bacteria to produce everything from human insulin to jet fuel. Click here to read a review from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain—and How it Changed the World by Carl Zimmer
In this unprecedented history of a scientific revolution, award-winning author and journalist Carl Zimmer tells the definitive story of the dawn of the age of the brain and modern consciousness. Told here for the first time, the dramatic tale of how the secrets of the brain were discovered in seventeenth-century England unfolds against a turbulent backdrop of civil war, the Great Fire of London, and plague. At the beginning of that chaotic century, no one knew how the brain worked or even what it looked like intact. But by the century's close, even the most common conceptions and dominant philosophies had been completely overturned, supplanted by a radical new vision of man, God, and the universe. Click here to read a review from the Guardian.

What We Believe But Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Uncertainty by John Brockman
Eminent cultural impresario, editor, and publisher of Edge, John Brockman asked a group of leading scientists and thinkers to answer the question: What do you believe to be true even though you cannot prove it? This book brings together the very best answers from the most distinguished contributors. Thought-provoking and hugely compelling, this collection of bite-size thought-experiments is a fascinating insight into the instinctive beliefs of some of the most brilliant minds today. Click here to read a review from the Guardian.

Compiled by
Mary Miller, Science Reference Librarian, Charleston County Public Library