Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Learning | Science! It's what's for Summer Reading

Science is the word this summer! We have science-themed programs for adults, teens, and kids. The adult theme is "Literary Elements;" for teens, it is "Spark a Reaction," and, of course, for children, it is "Fizz, Boom, Read!"

This week, let's talk about "Literary Elements," the theme for adults. Most of us realize that the library has books full of scientific facts in the non-fiction and reference areas of the collection. But we have some fiction that's scientific, too.


I cannot think of a better fiction series to link to the "Literary Elements" theme than Camille Minichino's Periodic Table Mystery series.  The main character, Gloria Lamerino, is a retired physicist, who has a second career as a science consultant for the police. (She also happens to be in love with a police detective.) She has an amazing scientific mind and her share of foibles, and interesting friends; what's not to like?

Each book in the Periodic Table series focuses on a particular element, which is central to the solution (no pun intended) to the mystery, for example, "The Nitrogen Murder." These are fun reads, and not too gruesome. Think of them as cozy science mysteries.  

Fun fact: Camille Minichino visited the Tracy Branch Library some years back. There was a library program about mystery writers, and she was on the panel.

Science Fiction

There is another fiction genre that dovetails nicely with this year's theme: science fiction.This genre is chock full of interesting stories and talented writers.  Science fiction stories are based on imagined and/or future worlds. They often feature scientific or technological advances. Some of these worlds portray dystopian societies, for example, Ray Bradbury's classic, Fahrenheit 451, in which books are burned. (Eek!)

Not fiction, but a really good story

Biographies are accounts of real people's lives. I find that reading a biography can be as engrossing as a fictional story.  

For example, read this book by Berkeley neurobiologist Sybil Lockhart: Mother in the middle: a biologist's story of caring for parent and child

Many of us have had the experience of caring for an elderly parent with dementia, and caring for our own children at the same time.  Lockhart's story is especially interesting, because her expertise in neurobiology allows her to alternatively marvel and cringe at the effects of the disease progression on her mother--and at the developmental biological effects occurring in her growing daughters. 

I hope I have supplied you with a few good suggestions for your summer reading.  I welcome suggestions for other books or series with a science theme, whether they are mysteries, science fiction, general fiction, biographies, or just plain old non-fiction. What are your favorites?

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