The Crowd-Sourced Reading List

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Last week I blegged for examples of great science writing from over the years, and you did not disappoint. Rania Masri, who teaches writing to scientists in Lebanon, asked if I could share the list. It’s the least I can do in exchange for everyone’s generosity, and this morning I’ve got some time as I listen to some interviews for good quotes. (I also have to say it’s very cool to be helping somebody out in Lebanon from my laptop.)

I’ve selected the readings that I think would work best for a class on the art of writing about science and nature. This is obvious a far from definitive list. For one thing, it underrepresents the great books about science. For another, it’s heavy on biology and light on physics, etc.–a reflection of the self-selected nature of the Loom’s readers, I suspect. And I’ve preferred pieces that can be read online. Imperfections notwithstanding, I hope this list brings people some unexpected pleasures from the past…

Frederick Crews: “Saving Us From Darwin”

Atul Gawande:“The Itch”

Masha Gessen: “A Medical Quest”

Stephen Jay Gould: “A Biological Homage to Mickey Mouse” (pdf)

Oliver Morton: “Moonshine and Glue: A Thirteen-Unit Guide to the Extreme Edge of Astrophysics” (pdf)

Lawrence Osborne: “A Linguistic Big Bang”

Oliver Sacks: “The Abyss”

Robert Sapolsky: “A Gene for Nothing”

Polly Shulman: “Infinity Plus One”

Kenneth Weiss and Usha Macfarling: “Altered Oceans”

Appendix A: A few books…

Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe

Richard Feynman, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb

Matt Ridley, Genome

Robert Sapolsky, Monkeyluv

Lewis Thomas, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony