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Science Literacy Week September 19-25, 2016: UBC Faculty Great Reads

Great Reads

UBC Faculty have shared their favourite classic or popular science books. You can find these titles on the Woodward Library Great Reads shelf. Take one home with you today!


Amber Saundry, Digital Repository Librarian, UBC Library recommends . . .

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on EarthAn Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Why is this a favourite book?

"You don't have to know rocket science! Hadfield's engaging, humorous, & conversational tone describes his journey from an Ontario corn farm to the International Space Station, the importance of attitude & perspective, and some of his lessons learned along the way."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads  TL789.85.H33 A3 2013


Sally Taylor, Interim Head, Woodward Library recommends . . .

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our TimeThe Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time by Jonathan Weiner

Why is this a favourite book?

"Evolution is not a phenomenon to be witnessed over hundreds of years. It’s happening now! Weiner provides a number of examples, including that of Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QL696.P246 W45 1995


Judy Chan, Sessional Lecturer, Food Nutrition and Health recommends . . .

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015 by Rebecca Skloot

Why is this a favourite book?

"The Best American Science and Nature Writing series offers me an opportunity to explore a range of scientific topics – from those relevant to my own fields, to topics that fit my personal lifestyle and interests, to ‘stuff’ that goes way beyond my imagination. What I appreciate the most is the quality of writing. While most stories are written as documentaries, more are presented as thrillers, crime scene investigations, biographies, and stories of love."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads PN6071.S3 B46 2015


Andrew Riseman, Associate Professor, Applied Biology and Plant Breeding recommends . . .

The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the WorldThe Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

Why is this a favourite book?
"I think this book has something for most everyone. It's a clear and well written story of how four crops (apple, potato, marijuana, and tulip) interacted with people and societies in a type of co-evolution. These interactions led to a range of outcomes including fortunes won and lost, moonshine production fueling western settlement, famine and mass migration, and altered mental states benefiting the plant."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QK46.5.H85 P66 2001


Martin Adamson, Professor, Zoology recommends . . .

Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent DesignDarwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

Why is this a favourite book?

"This book presents data that challenges the neodarwinian interpretation of evolution: one dominated by randomly generated genetic changes sorted by natural selection; though few biologists will agree with the conceptual solution proposed by Meyer (intelligent design) the problems he presents need to be confronted."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QH325 .M47 2013


Martin Adamson, Professor, Zoology recommends . . .

The Descent of ManThe Descent of Man by Charles Darwin

Why is this a favourite book?

" Most of Darwins works are still worth reading. "Expressions of emotions..." and "Descent of man..." are two that biologists tend to ignore but that show some of Darwin's shrewdest thinking about how humans relate to the larger scale of nature. "

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QH365 .D2 1998


Barbara Lence, Professor, Civil Engineering recommends . . .

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social ChangeDesign for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek

Why is this a favourite book?

"I discovered Design for the Real World after hearing Victor Papanek speak when I was in graduate school. I was inspired by his message that the essence of design comes from understanding the client's needs. Form can't be separated from function - they are both crucial."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads TS171.4 .P37 1985


Paul Harrison, Associate Dean, Student Services, Faculty of Science recommends . . .

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the ElementsThe Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean

Why is this a favourite book?

"As a biologist with only a vague memory of studying the Periodic Table of elements, this book helped to make sense of chemistry; what makes elements similar and different. It describes how many of the elements were discovered, through entertaining historical and political anecdotes. With insight and humour Kean helps the reader get to know the people behind those discoveries. If only introductory chemistry were taught with a text like this!"

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QD466 .K37 2011


Patrick Keeling, Professor, Botany recommends . . .

The Eighth Day Of Creation: Makers Of The Revolution In BiologyThe Eighth Day Of Creation: Makers Of The Revolution In Biology by Horace Freeland Judson

Why is this a favourite book?

"I borrowed Horace Judson’s The Eighth Day of Creation from my graduate advisor when I was a student, and it had a big impact on how I saw my work and where it fit into the big picture. It is a history of how molecular biology was invented, and seeing where all these ideas and insights that I took for granted came from was really an eye opener for me."

Location: Woodward Library stacks QU11.1 .J83 1996


Lior Silberman, Assistant Professor, Mathematics recommends . . .

Six Books of EuclidThe Elements: Six Books of Euclid by Euclid

Why is this a favourite book?

"This has been the standard "introduction to mathematics" book for more than two thousand years, a marvel of cultural continuity. Then as now it furnishes one of the cornerstones of a general education. I also think of it as the connecting thread of research mathematics, showing that today's modern discipline is the same one studied in Greece 2300 years ago."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QA31 .E875 2010


Carol-Ann Courneya, Assistant Dean, MD Undergraduate Student Affairs, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program recommends . . .

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for IdentityFar from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

Why is this a favourite book?

"Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads HV888.5 .S65 2012


Martin Adamson, Professor, Zoology recommends . . .

The Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural HistoryThe Flamingo's Smile: Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould

Why is this a favourite book?

"The greatest and most broad thinking of all recent biological writers might well be Stephen Jay Gould. Few authors approach Gould in his ability to provoke critical thought around a biological topic. All of his series, taken from his Natural History essays, are worth reading."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QH81 .G673 1985


Ivan Beschastikh, Assistant Professor, Computer Science recommends . . .

Flatland: A Romance of Many DimensionsFlatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott

Why is this a favourite book?

"Flatland is a short read, but it details a fascinating world that is packed with complexity. The setting is deliberately abstract and introduces readers to multi-dimensional thinking through more familiar human concepts, such as cultural norms, gender relations, and more. An entertaining book for any age!"

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QA699 .A13 1963


Rosie Redfield, Professor, Zoology recommends . . .

The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in NatureThe Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell

Why is this a favourite book?

"The Forest Unseen is wonderful (and short). Haskell is an ecologist, and this short book describes the time he spent every few weeks for a year, communing with a tiny patch of forest. He thinks and writes superbly."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QH105.T2 H37 2013


Noboru Yonemitsu, Senior Instructor, Civil Engineering recommends . . .

The Gecko's Foot: Bio-inspiration: Engineering New Materials from NatureThe Gecko's Foot: Bio-inspiration: Engineering New Materials from Nature by Peter Forbes

Why is this a favourite book?

"This small book contains a series of very interesting nature’s wonders which could be applied to human manufacture. Great introduction to bio-mimicry with rather simple, non-scientific writing. Entertaining for all ages."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads T173.8 .F63 2005


Greg Bole, Senior Instructor, Botany and Zoology recommends . . .

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Why is this a favourite book?

"Written like a detective story this book weaves science and history to show the dawn of the field of epidemiology, unravelling the causes of disease epidemics. A real life Sherlock Holmes made a breakthrough that impacted millions of lives."

Location: Woodward Great Reads WC262 .J64 2006 "


Tamara Munzner, Professor, Computer Science recommends . . .

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden BraidGödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Why is this a favourite book?

"A crucial and inspiring book in my own path to computer science, as it was for many of us in the field. This book's tagline is "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll". It won a Pulitzer Prize when it appeared in 1979, and continues to go strong with a 20th anniversary edition published in 1999."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QA9.8 .H63 1979


Gary Schajer, Professor, Mechanical Engineering recommends . . .

A History of PiA History of Pi by Petr Beckmann

Why is this a favourite book?

"It is an opinionated and irreverent view of the mathematical history relating to Pi. For example, Chapter 5 is entitled "The Roman Pest". It's a fun and informative read."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QA484 .B4 1970


Lior Silberman, Assistant Professor, Mathematics recommends . . .

How to Lie with StatisticsHow to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff

Why is this a favourite book?

"Mathematics is our primary language for describing the world objectively; every day we have "statistical facts" given to us in support of this or that cause. This wonderful book from 1954 describes with great humor how statistics is misued.";

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads HA29 .H82 1982


Greg Bole, Senior Instructor, Botany and Zoology recommends . . .

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Why is this a favourite book?

"This book tells the fascinating story about the person behind an "immortal" cell line that is used in thousands of labs around the world. The author does a great job of explaining the science, but embeds it within the very personal and emotional story of Henrietta and her descendants. Rebecca Skloot makes herself, and by proxy you the reader, part of the unfolding story."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QZ201 .S5564 2010


John Palmer, Coordinator, Special projects, Forestry recommends . . .

The Journals of Captain CookThe Journals of Captain Cook by Philip Edwards

Why is this a favourite book?

"The Journals show what can be achieved by careful observation, systematic experimentation, recording of observations, and inter-generational transmission of accumulating knowledge. James Cook had little formal schooling before he went to sea, but was trained by the British Royal Navy and learned from association with the scientists on his three great Pacific voyages, 1768-1779."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads FC3821.244 A1 1999


Carol-Ann Courneya, Assistant Dean, MD Undergraduate Student Affairs, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program recommends . . .

King of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart SurgeryKing of Hearts: The True Story of the Maverick Who Pioneered Open Heart Surgery by G. Wayne Miller

Why is this a favourite book?

"Few of the great stories of medicine are as palpably dramatic as the invention of open-heart surgery, yet, until now, no journalist has ever brought all of the thrilling specifics of this triumph to life. This is the story of the surgeon many call the father of open-heart surgery, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, who, along with colleagues at University Hospital in Minneapolis and a small band of pioneers elsewhere, accomplished what many experts considered to be an impossible feat: He opened the heart, repaired fatal defects, and made the miraculous routine."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads WZ100.L366 M545 2000


Phil Evans, Professor, Wood Science recommends . . .

The Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin MiracleThe Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle by Eric Lax

Why is this a favourite book?

"This is a fascinating account of the discovery of penicillin and the main actors involved (and their all too familiar human failings). Everyone knows that Fleming 'discovered penicillin', but I was attracted to the book because it promised to set the record straight by describing Florey and Chains' involvement in the discovery. By the end my sympathies lay with the unassuming Englishman, Norman Heatley, whose contribution was on a par with those of the others."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads WZ112 .L39 2004


Lior Silberman, Assistant Professor, Mathematics recommends . . .

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Volumes 1-2Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Volumes 1-2 by Isaac Newton

Why is this a favourite book?

"I consider this book as the crowning achievement of human civilization. By establishing that the universe is governed by mathematical principles, it revolutionized our understanding of the universe; even more, it changed the way we think about the universe, and perhaps most importantly it redefined our expectations from ourselves."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QA803 .A2 1972


Celeste Leander, Senior Instructor, Botany and Zoology recommends . . .

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the BaboonsA Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons by Robert M. Sapolsky

Why is this a favourite book?

"This autobiography is a funny and poignant story of a human living amongst a baboon troop. It connects us to our own humanity and reminds us of our place in the primate world."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QL737.P93 S266 2001

 


Elizabeth Croft, Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Associate Dean, Education and Professional Development, Faculty of Applied Science recommends . . .

The Real World of TechnologyThe Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin

Why is this a favourite book?

"The Real World of Technology is based on Dr. Franklin’s 1989 Massey Lectures. Her arguments are both profound and prophetic. She
recognized the effect of Facebook, smartphones and the web on our communities before they were even invented. Whereas McLuhan predicted the medium, she predicted the impact – and asked questions about the impact of technology on sustainability, community and, fundamentally, on relationships – on what it means to be a person and a society. She asked some hard questions about the ultimate purpose of technology – does it serve us, or do we serve it?"

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads T14.5 .F73 1990


Kellogg Booth, Professor, Computer Science recommends . . .

The Sciences of the ArtificialThe Sciences of the Artificial by Herbert A. Simon

Why is this a favourite book?

"We increasingly live in an invented world that, while not immune to the laws of nature, is largely shaped by our imagination. Simon examines how the process of design, which creates new artifacts and behaviors, differs from a classic view of science as the discovery and cataloging of natural artifacts and behaviors. First written at the dawn of the digital age, Simon provides a roadmap to understanding the blurred boundary between the natural and the artificial and the increasing role of computation as a science activity."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads Q175 .S564 1981


Kellogg Booth, Professor, Computer Science recommends . . .

The Structure of Scientific RevolutionsThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn

Why is this a favourite book?

"This book is a classic that changed the way we looked at science. It is well worth reading today as we try to sort out issues such as global climate change. Kuhn helps us understand why it is so difficult to reach consensus by his explaining science as a social process that is not devoid of politics and human emotion."

Location Woodward Library Great Reads Q175 .K95 1962


Paul Harrison, Associate Dean, Student Services, Faculty of Science recommends . . .

Weeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think About NatureWeeds: How Vagabond Plants Gatecrashed Civilisation and Changed the Way We Think About Nature by Richard Mabey

Why is this a favourite book?

"This year I return to my roots as a botanist and recommend “Weeds” by Richard Mabey (2010). Insights into the lives of some common weedy plants and how they have influenced agriculture, human history, art history, and poetry."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads SB611 .M33 2010
 


Martin Adamson, Professor, Zoology recommends . . .

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the EnvironmentWhat Every Environmentalist Needs to Know about Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment by Fred Magdoff and John Bellamy Foster

Why is this a favourite book?

"This book speaks to human ecology, an area largely neglected by biologists. One of the reasons for this could be that we operate under a production system that fetishizes human ecology. In this short primer the authors speak directly to the production system (capitalism) and its influence on human environmental biology."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads HC79.E5 M329 2011


Elyse Yeager, Instructor, Mathematics recommends . . .

Why Empathy MattersWhy Empathy Matters by J.D. Trout

Why is this a favourite book?

"A good primer on cognitive biases, and the way our behavior can be manipulated for good or for evil, with a theme of creating better public policy."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads HM1033 .T77 2010


Greg Bole, Senior Instructor, Botany and Zoology recommends . . .

Why Evolution Is TrueWhy Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne

Why is this a favourite book?

" Do you have friends or family that don't get evolution? They challenge its very existence? If you want a simple way to explain it to them or a fabulous wealth of fascinating and bizarre examples as evidence, then this is the book to read. Professor Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago is one of the world experts on the study of evolution and he will give you a whirlwind tour through the majesty of all life on the planet. Clear, compelling and full of wonder. "

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads QH366.2 .C74 2009


John Palmer, Coordinator, Special Projects, Forestry recommends . . .

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of HistoryWonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History by Stephen Jay Gould

Why is this a favourite book?

"What we see around us are the present consequences of innumerable natural selections over 500 million years, each one favouring cumulatively one possible anatomy or physiology over another. The Burgess Shale is the exceptional snapshot in time of natural selection at the beginning of biological evolution, when the constraints of contingency were just beginning to take effect after the explosion of life in the Cambrian era. Gould’s characteristically luminous and well-paced phrases tell a truly wonderful tale of inspired and exciting science."

Location: Woodward Library Great Reads: QE770 .G67 1990


   

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