For those of you who are extremely interested in science and science related topics, non-fiction books can be a great way to inform yourself of a particular topic, without having to read complicated papers.
Here are a few quick selections we think our fans might enjoy. Periodically, we will do book reviews on non-fiction (or fiction books) and will update our list as often as we can.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Most should be familiar with this title, as it was transformed into a spectacular Hollywood hit that featured black women as scientists and math geniuses rather than slaves or maids.
Unlike the film, the book follows four (not three) ‘human computers,’ how they used their intellect to benefit not just the country, but their own lives as well. They were living in the Jim Crow era and trying to break both racial and gender barriers. While there is still racism and sexism in the workplace today, the tenacity and brilliance of these seldom-recognized women is truly inspiring.
Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr
A lot of people know that Sally Ride was the first woman in space, but are we really taught much else about her? I definitely wasn’t.
This biography gives the reader a much closer look at her as a person, rather than a neat factoid for trivia. Not only did she go to space, but she helped investigate the failures of NASA that caused both the Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Sherr has interviewed family members, including her partner, as well as friends and co-workers to give a much more in-depth look at the first American woman to go to outer space.
The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of Harvard University Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel
If Rise of the Rocket Girls is a good place for beginners to start, The Glass Universe is recommended for readers who enjoy reading material that is more dense (or a little dry).
It explores the lives of women employed as ‘calculators’ who interpreted the observations made by male astronomers at the Harvard College Observatory. Through advancing technology and their own interest in studying the stars, they made ground-breaking discoveries about the stars.
Chasing Space: An Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances by Leland Melvin
This is a memoir about an astronaut with quite the career history. Previously a wide receiver, Melvin faced many challenges to make it to space, including an injury that made him deaf. Through his perseverance in continuing to work with NASA and eventually made it to space! Through his vast experience in many different areas, from chemistry to football, he recounts how he was able to succeed.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield
You might be familiar with this astronaut without realizing it. He went viral with his video of singing ‘Space Oddity’ while literally floating in space.
For deeper insight into the training he underwent and a lot of unbelievable stories, Hadfield imparts the wisdom he learned from becoming an astronaut. Even without accomplishing the same daring feats he has, you will learn the mindset it takes to do so and can apply that to life as an Earthling, for the better.
Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt
This is a good place to start for those who aren’t heavy readers, in science or otherwise. Similar to Hidden Figures, this book looks at the women who made it possible for America to send someone to space and the moon.
The women are explored more broadly, rather than focusing on a select few. The author includes quite a bit of social and personal details about the women, such as their social life and clothing styles, details which might make this an easier transition for fiction readers. Half of those who read this book felt it was dramatic and patronizing towards the women while others felt they were well-characterized.
Thanks for reading!
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Remember to always be curious and stay mindful!
Written By: Jane Neal