Hi everyone, I hope you all are having a great holiday season! For me, holidays are synonymous with traveling; going home to meet family and friends or a relaxing vacation away from the usual routine. Besides, I love reading, and catching up on books over long hauls is one of the things I absolutely look forward to in the holidays. So, I decided to slide into the new year with a post about few of my favorite books in the science genre (in no particular order) with a short review of each.
Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely
If you are intrigued by the absurdity and hypocrisy of human nature, which compels us to act contradictory to our title of the most intelligent beings, then this book is for you. Dan Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, and through some very interesting case studies, he shows us the unfiltered image of our intelligently orchestrated irrationality. I found it amusing to guess the results of the simple case studies and see what percentage of ‘statistics’ I fit in. In fact, reading about these made me curious enough to participate in a psychology study in Stanford! I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves to observe human behavior. Also, just in case you are more of a game person, a card game version based on similar studies is also available.
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
This book is exactly what the title promises: it briefly touches on the history of scientific achievements over the past 200 years or so. What I especially liked about it was the chronological description of important discoveries; it is interesting to have an idea of what was happening in biology, for example, at the same time when Einstein ruled physics. As a scientist, I also felt grateful at the infrastructure and facilities available for research now, as compared to the difficult times when years could be lost on experiments ruined by inadequate apparatus. Overall, whether you are a scientist or a science enthusiast, you will enjoy being overwhelmed by the steady progress in science on reading this book.
The man who mistook his wife for a hat: And Other Clinical Tales, by Oliver Sacks
Prepare to be amazed (and slightly worried) reading about some fascinating neurological disorders covered in this book. Oliver Sacks, a physician and neurologist, narrates several clinical cases of patients with unique types of brain function losses; the most famous one was of a patient who could not distinguish between shapes, thus committing the uncommon mistake of confusing his wife for his hat. Unlike ‘predictably irrational’, which focuses on psychology and human behavior, this book deals with the manifestations of random wiring flaws that can occur in a normal brain. Although I had to recover with a funny P. G Wodehouse book after an overdose of these unusual disorders, I would recommend this informative book to anyone who is interested in the functioning of human brain.
Lab girl, by Hope Jahren
Although the name might intimidate non-scientists, all you need to enjoy this book is healthy curiosity of the professional and personal journey of a scientist and an appreciation of metaphors. Hope Jahren opens her life to reveal the obstacles that professors face for funding, her struggle as a woman to earn recognition in male-dominated field, and simply the life of a researcher, who is more passionately driven by a subject (in her case plants) than anything else in the world. Her narrative style, drawing analogies between her own life events and plant development, makes this a smooth and easy to follow book.
I have a few more books on my to-read list, so stay tuned for a sequel of this list soon. Till then, enjoy reading these, and I look forward to read your opinions/reviews in the comments.