It's time to hit the books again... but this time for fun!

23 January 2012

Ahhhhhhh... it's summer. School is out, end-of-year exams are a thing of the past (thank goodness!) and all of a sudden, you find youself with all this time on your hands! Maybe you have plans on hitting the beach or just hanging out on your friend's backyard deck. So when lounging around, why not pick up a great book?

But the question is then, which one!? Lucky for you, we have come up with 10 great books (in no particular order), each with a hint (or more) of cool science, which should get you through the rest of the summer. So go and hit up your local library or bookstore for these titles and enjoy a great read!

1. The Time Traveler's Wife

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Science fiction or looovvvvve story? That's for you to decide. This story is told alternately from the perspective of time traveler Henry and his wife, Clare. Henry has Chrono Displacement Disorder and without warning, randomly appears in the past or future. In fact, he never really knows where he'll turn up! Sometimes he might find himself in a library in 2003 or shuttled into the year 1980 where he sees his wife as a child. Hard to put this book down!

2. Madame Bovary's Ovaries: A Darwinian Look at Literature

Authors: David P. Barash and Nanelle R. Barash

Can the answers of evolution lie in the characters of literature? Is it possible that gorillas can shed light on the works of Shakespeare or that bloodsucking bats can relate to the works of novelist John Steinbeck? This witty and entertaining book will show you it just might! From Tom Jones all the way to Bridget Jones, these characters will demonstrate how natural selection forces have shaped our day-to-day behavior; everything from how we fall in love to how we argue with our families. Maybe science and literature really can go together!

3. Deja Dead

Author: Kathy Reichs

If you're a fan of the TV show CSI, then this a book for you! Dr. Tempe Brennan, a forensic anthropologist working in Montreal, uses bodies of murder victims to solve missing person cases. She's got another job though: trying to convince the police that a serial killer is on the loose! After a grinning skull is planted in her garden, the case starts to get personal and things start to become more intense. Without ruining the ending, this book will certainly keep you on the edge of your seat!

4. A Short History of Nearly Everything

Author: Bill Bryson

This bestselling book will try to answer the oldest and leading questions that have been asked about the universe and ourselves - everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. In writing this book, the author, Bill Bryson, sought out the worlds leading experts and poured over their books, asking questions and pleading for answers to some of the most mysterious aspects of life. After you read this, you may be the smartest person in your class when you come back to school in the fall... or just have a lot more questions!

5. The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots As Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

Author: Jeanne Cavelos

For those who still cant get enough of Star Wars or the X-files, you'll certainly want to pick this book up. Jeanne Cavelos, an astrophysicist, uses science to try to explain the possibility of everything from rapid interstellar travel to extraterrestrial life. She even details how to build your own lightsabers and blasters! Cool! But the big question you really want to know is "can the Force can really be with you"? Maybe only Yoda knows or you can read this book to find out!

6. Mindscan

Author: Robert J. Sawyer

An engaging science-fiction novel that explores the meaning of being human. Due to a rare, inheritable condition, Jake Sullivan's father collapses into a vegetative state. Using mindscanning technology, Jake has himself scanned to avoid his genetic fate, and copies the consciousness of his doomed body into an artificial one. In this new form, Jake finds love with another android, Karen. But the twists and turns that follow are unpredictable and captivating. A true page-turner.

7. The Velocity of Honey

Author: Jay Ingram

Jay Ingram, the host of the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet, has written a fascinating book which considers some of life's daily mysteries: Why does buttered toast fall butter side down? Why is it that you can "sense" that someone is starring at you from behind? When visiting a new place, why does getting there always seem to take so much longer than returning home? He even tackles the origins of some of those old-time sayings like "time flies when you're having fun". This is everyday science explained at its best.

8. The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

This may be on your English teachers list of books for your class to read but for good reason! It is a book that may make you question what the future will hold. The story is told by Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She once lived with freedom but since she is a women, her life is now strictly controlled: woman are no longer to read, have jobs or money, and are even put into classes: the childless Wives, the housekeeping Marthas, and the reproductive Handmaids who have to turn their children over to "morally fit" Wives. A memorable novel.

9. Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions

Author: James Randi

Is it possible to read blindfolded? Can people really bend metal bars with brain power? James Randi, a professional magician, has caught frauds and phonies in the act and exposes their trickery with simple logic, facts and replication of their supposed miracles. This book explores the limits of human perception and how ridiculously simple it is to fake the "impossible". Is it possible that you've been fooled all these years? Read this book to find out.

10. The Selfish gene

Author: Richard Dawkins

This fascinating book is about the theory of evolution. The Selfish Gene examines the driving force for unselfish (altruistic) and selfish behaviour, the evolution of competitive behaviour, the theory of the sex ratio and of course, natural selection. Did you know that bees will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn their flock of an approaching hawk? And with chapters like "Nice Guys Finish First," this is one book that may cause you to rethink your beliefs about life!

Amy studied Molecular Biology and just finished her PhD in a breast cancer research lab. She does her part to help the environment by using her bike to get around, buying local produce, and reusing old shopping bags. You can learn more about Amy in the About Us section of the CRAM website.


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