The Just 20 Weekly Booklist contains 20 recommendations on a topic or genre for patrons of all ages. The list, curated by Lisa & Beth, is designed to proceed in level from older audiences to younger.
Science is a broad subject and the world of books abounds with great information. See more suggestions at Geek Wrapped's 50 Best Science Books.
This week's inspiration/shout-out goes to our local science and nature museums - the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (Quechee), the Montshire Museum of Science (Norwich), and the American Precision Museum (Windsor). You can see look to these museums' websites for more information on both science and their individual educational offerings, and you can check the library website for information on museum pass opportunities.
We could not possibly omit this from any science list, and more so since Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay designed our Just20 graphics! Endlessly fascinating for adults, teens and children, The New Way Things Work covers a myriad of technologies that impact all our lives. (You can also search the catalog for many other incredible and intricate David Macaulay titles.)
“Lab Girl by Hope Jahren is a beautifully written memoir about the life of a woman in science, a brilliant friendship, and the profundity of trees. Terrific.” —Barack Obama
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space. Also available in a young readers' edition.
As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule, take an entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth. (Mary Roach believes that science should be entertaining AND informative. Check out some of her other titles including Stiff, Gulp, & Grunt.)
Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Not an easy book but an important one, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Have you ever wondered how one day the media can assert that alcohol is bad for us and the next unashamedly run a story touting the benefits of daily alcohol consumption? Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biased scientific studies, as well as taking the media to task. He doesn't want to just say what's wrong but also to teach how to evaluate placebo effects, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it.
Graphica about the brain! Neurocomic is a journey through the human brain: a place of neuron forests, memory caves, and castles of deception. Along the way, you'll encounter Boschean beasts, giant squid, guitar-playing sea slugs, and the great pioneers of neuroscience. Roš and Farinella provide insights into the most complex thing in the universe - your brain.
Millions of people visit xkcd.com each week to read Randall Munroe's iconic webcomic. His stick-figure drawings about science, technology, language, and love have a large and passionate following. Fans of xkcd ask Munroe a lot of strange questions, including - If there were a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last? Munroe's responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, complemented by signature xkcd comics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.
The best novel of a plague you'll read. Really! Although resonant with our own times, the story is set in 17th century England, and is about a village that quarantines itself to arrest the spread of the plague. Inspired by the true story of Eyam, a village in the rugged hill country of England, it reminds us that even in the midst of quarantine, we cannot manage without community - true then, true today.
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, The Overstory is a work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. The novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables moving from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Pacific Northwest Timber Wars. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world of trees and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.
With fabulous photography and interesting subject material, Nat Geo goes behind the scenes to show us more about the way things we use everyday work for us. The kind of book you sit and look through, getting so excited about something that you just have to pick it up and share with someone.
Sy Montgomery, known for her non-fiction books for adults, has created a series of books for kids with accessible language and stunning photography, Nic Bishop is known for his close-ups and these tarantulas are shown super close. For kids who enjoy spiders and creepy crawlies, this book will show them a little more about the ways scientists study them and what they’ve learned. Fascinating and fun!
Crinkleroot has been around for many years, created by Vermont’s own Jim Arnosky. This beloved character can guide you through different parts of the natural world and bring your attention to details often overlooked. If trees are calling to you this summer, take one of these guide books with you on your next outdoor adventure.
Trial and error. Sometimes that’s the only way to go. Get an idea and keep testing it out, in every way possible. Thank goodness Lonnie didn’t quit, and thank goodness he could take his engineering ideas and turn them elsewhere. Fortunately, for us, all that work led to the Super Soaker. You can also read about this incredible inventor in the picturebook, Whoosh!
You’ve not seen anything like this before. Basher illustrates the elements and assigns them quirky personalities inspired by their properties. Filled with facts and interesting bits of knowledge, this whole series is designed to make challenging topics accessible. The visuals just add to the charm and retention of information.
Part puzzle, part how-to, this series is an interesting mash-up of mystery and science. The Holt twins are sent to stay with their Uncle Newt, a scientist type working for a secret government agency. There are plenty of adventures to be had and lots of opportunity for getting into trouble. Oh, and maybe they can figure out what happened to their parents… Each book features instructions for readers to create their own gadget.
Originally the Calpurnia books were written as middle grade chapter books, now they are available for younger readers. This historical series shows how our girl vet helps the animals around her in turn of the twentieth century Texas. Illustrated throughout and perfect for inspiring curiosity about the natural world.
It definitely takes a scientist to figure out how everyone can be friends, despite their tendencies to not get along with each other. He’s sure there’s a way for them to all enjoy the birthday party together, proving that problem solving can be fun! Bonus, there’s a chance for vocabulary expansion with words like hypothesis, pillaging and plundering.
The transformation a caterpillar undergoes to become a butterfly is nothing short of miraculous. Velma, the girl no one remembers because her sisters are so unforgettable, finds that a monarch butterfly is able to bring her some joy. All she has to do is look closely and pay attention—the perfect foundation for becoming a scientist. Watching her transform is almost as amazing as the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis.
It’s never too early to talk about scientific methods and aspiring to wear a white coat. All the better to figure out an answer to a question like where to find the space to work on your experiments. Kids who have had to worry about siblings taking up too much room will enjoy Charlotte’s search for a solution. Be sure to check out the sequel: Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure.