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[PARENTS & EDUCATORS] Science Books For Adults

It’s not just kids who are wary of science books. Many adults, once they’re done with their minimum required science electives, treat science-related non-fiction books with mistrustful avoidance, due to an unjustified fear that they’ll be boring and incomprehensible. But it’s important to remember that not all science-themed books are Gray’s Anatomy: science writers don’t just write textbooks. There are hundreds of engaging, and even exciting, books for grownups that explore scientific principles, theories and topics. Here’s Readorium’s pick for some of the best science books for adults.

1) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach

Science Books for Adults | ReadoriumMary Roach is known for her hilarious explorations of the more obscure branches of science, from 19th century research into ghosts, to optimizing toilet training for space flights. In Stiff, Roach reveals the biological as well as social fate of dead bodies in the United States. She speaks to medical students who use them for training, crash-test scientists who need real bodies for their experiments, and even researchers who focus solely on how corpses rot. While it may sound a little gruesome and perhaps a little irreverent, Roach affords the bodies a great deal of respect, and still manages to approach the subject with humor and plenty of heart.

“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.”

What You Can Discuss With Your Kids

  • Science can be weird and cool
  • Death, and dead bodies
  • What respect for people and their bodies means


2) Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, by Lauren Redniss

Science Books for Adults | ReadoriumA finalist for the National Book Award, Redniss’ unusual book delves into the life and science of preeminent physicist/chemist Marie Curie. It is a masterful hybrid of a fascinating non-fiction text interwoven with collection of visual art. Radioactive is a true, if unconventional, graphic novel: separating the prose and the art would rob both of their true value. In addition to meticulously researched biographical and scientific explanations, Redniss created her own typeface based on manuscript covers at the New York Public Library, plus hundreds of images using cyanotype printing, an early, lightless photographic technique, to tell the story of a brilliant woman, whose life and legacy cannot be described by mere words.

“Marie returned home to learn that her husband was dead. The flowers he had picked in the country remained fresh on the table. His gray watch, recovered from the scene of the accident, still ticked away the time.”

What You Can Discuss With Your Kids

  • Awesome women scientists
  • Love and relationships
  • The repercussions of nuclear weapons


3) The Demon in the Freezer, by Richard Preston

Science Books for Adults | ReadoriumRichard Preston is a veteran when it comes to writing about deadly diseases and this look into smallpox is no less thrilling than his other work. The Demon in the Freezer is a terrifying look into smallpox and anthrax, and what their presence in labs around the globe could mean for humanity. If you’re searching for a riveting, non-fiction thriller, Preston’s work is where you should look.

“If all the viruses on the planet were to disappear, a global catastrophe would ensue, and the natural ecosystems of the earth would collapse in a spectacular crash under burgeoning populations of insects. Viruses are nature’s crowd control, and a poxvirus can thin a crowd in a hurry.”

What You Can Discuss With Your Kids

  • Medical history
  • Ethical research
  • Bioweapons and crimes against humanity

Good science writing can be fascinating, beautiful, thrilling, scary, tragic or comical. So ditch your fears and pick up some science books! And if you’re hungry for more, check out Science‘s list of reviews .

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