It’s the tail end of winter break for many of you, and hopefully you’ve been able to take at least some time off from writing and research and enjoy some free time, get some sleep, get outside and play in the snow, or do some “pleasure reading.” It can be fun to read something outside of your usual field, and it can even jump-start some brainstorming or give you a new way of looking at things. In order to become a better writer, it’s often suggested that you read – a lot. So where to start with all this reading?

In this post, we’ve rounded up some fun books about science that might be of interest. Some are collections of essays or articles, which is perfect when you don’t have a ton of time or want to take a “brain break” if you ARE doing work on your dissertation. These books are meant to be accessible and interesting to even the most non-scientific person, so don’t let the word “science” deter you from checking these out!

Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018 edited by Sam Kean and Tim Folger

Part of the Best American series, this yearly collection is comprised from pieces from various magazines and websites, and runs the gamut, in terms of subjects. This year included pieces on space, cancer, climate change, lab culture, neuroscience and psychology, and more. It’s also worth checking out the collections from previous years, since each guest editor adds their own flavor to the collections.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Jahren, a geobiologist, has written a memoir that not only gives you a glimpse into her personal life, but also the laboratory. Her writing about nature and science is beautifully rendered, as are her observations about her life outside the lab. Even if science isn’t your thing, this memoir is worth picking up.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

This is classic Sacks, who was a neurologist and a gifted writer. In this book, he tells the stories of several patients of his, and it reads like a novel. Individuals with perceptual abnormalities, tics, mistakenly diagnosed with severe intellectual impairments – Sacks is a master storyteller of the human body.

This next book is a personal recommendation from Dr. Roda, and it’s his all-time favorite science book: Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Hawking was one of the greatest scientists ever, and this book breaks down theoretical physics for the layperson.

Have you ever read something that was out of your wheelhouse or comfort zone? What was that experience like? Did it help with your writing?

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