Category Archives: Book recommendation

Recommended Science books

I like to read science nonfiction books – they feed my inner scientist. Sometimes it’s hard to pick out the really interesting books from the “you’ll only love it if you’re already a fan of the topic.” Today, I thought I’d put together a post of some of my favorite science books. All these books fall into the “fascinating” category. Be careful  – you’ll want to share random bits of information with your nearest friends and relatives.

If you click on the title, you’ll be taken to my original review. If you click on the cover photo, you’ll be taken to an Amazon page where you can buy the book yourself (and thanks for supporting my blog!).

The 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

Here’s your first book full of tidbits. In this case, it’s all about the periodic table of the elements. You get everything from how the periodic table was put together to the discovery of elements, both natural and synthetic. My favorite part was discussing the origin of element names.

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

I like pretty much every book Mary Roach has written. In this case, she’s writing about long-term stays in space. This is even more appropriate now since there are several organizations working on sending people to Mars. A trip to Mars will involve a new series of issues, and Roach discusses many of those issues in this book. She’s not afraid to discuss any bodily function, either, so don’t be surprised by the topics covered!

A Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

Let’s bring the books back to Earth, but still stay timely. This is the oldest book in the list, and it was inspired by the anthrax attacks in 2001. The book is all about smallpox. While smallpox has been eradicated from the wild, it still exists in at least a couple of labs and could be used to create a biological weapon if the wrong group gets a hold of it.

Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle by Thor Hanson

This is my submission for the single topic science book. You know what you’re going to get when you pick up the book – it’s all about feathers. However, the author does a great job of alternating between how birds and humans use feathers. There’s also a bit on the evolution of feathers, that probably needs an update by now, but is still interesting.

Anything sound good to you? Anything you think I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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What I Will Be Reading #29: Kid’s Edition

This edition of What I Will Be Reading would be more accurately described as What My Kids Will Be Reading. I’ve seen a bunch of posts of books that look like something my kids would enjoy, so I’m putting together a list for them, instead of me. Might as well get them their own “To Read” lists, right!

Let’s start with Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fedler. This a true survival story about a kid who got lost in the woods in Maine in the 1930s and how he survived his ordeal. I wasn’t aware of this book until I saw a post by The Scraped Up Kid (incidentally, a great blog about getting outside and enjoying yourself at any age, focusing on Maine trails). This book is right up our alley, and I plan to read it aloud to the kids. The story is told by Donn Fedler, who was the kid who got lost, right after his experience. If you’d prefer, there’s a graphic novel version of the story that looks awesome, but isn’t available from our library, Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness, also by Donn Fedler.

Next up is Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust by Jennifer Roy. This book was brought to my attention by A Mighty Girl’s Facebook page (which daily provides women and girls who have done impressive things and books featuring strong female characters). Again, I had never heard about Irena Sendlar and her actions during WWII, so I decided to investigate. Jars of Hope is a picture book (but with a fair amount of text on each page) that A Mighty Girl recommends for ages 7-11. If you have an older child, or want more details after reading the Jars of Hope, try Irena’s Children: Young Readers Edition; A True Story of Courage by Mary Cronk Farrell that is recommended for ages 13+.

And finally, I’m going to recommend a fiction book, Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. This is the first book in a new series. The plot of the book is based around the Book Scavenger game. There are books hidden in various cities, and you get puzzles and clues to try to find the books first. It sounded to me like a book version of 39 Clues for a slightly older audience (since the book is almost 400 pages). Mr. Curiosity read the book and enjoyed the puzzles.

Finally, if you’re looking for more suggestions for kids, I recommend you listen to this week’s episodes of What Should I Read Next by The Modern Mrs. Darcy. Miss Adventure got about seven new books for her reading list by listening to the end of Episode 49: How to help kids fall in love with reading (with Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival). That podcast does dangerous things to my reading list in general.

And those are the books I’m recommending my kids should read. Anything else I should add to the list?

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Eighth-grade Literature Books

Mr. Curiosity wanted to read more literature this year. I’ve chosen books for American History Club that he might never have picked on his own, but he loved them. I think he wants more of the same. That’s a good thing, since we’re moving into a time in school when a student might be expected to read some of the classics. The question becomes, what books should we read? I’m looking for older books that many kids would read in middle school. (Newer books are easier to pick off the library shelf.) I’ve found a couple of options.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was an obvious first choice for us. It may be a bit deep for all eighth graders, but we’ve spent months practicing the play. Mr. Curiosity read it before we started the play, so he could catch more of the nuances. For those of you who haven’t read it (I never did until I was an adult), it’s about a black man being falsely accused of attacking a white woman and the town’s reaction to the situation. The topic of the book is still appropriate these days, and it helped open Mr. Curiosity’s eyes to some race conflicts.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the next book we’re going to read. It’s used quite often in middle schools, and I’ve read many reviews about how the readers loved the characters in the book. Again, I don’t think I ever had the opportunity to read the book in school (what did I read in middle school? I can’t remember). I’m looking forward to reading it alongside Mr. Curiosity. It looks like the book shows life as a teenager fifty years ago. Styles and slang might change, but growing up and relationships don’t.

Another commonly suggested book is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. It’s set in colonial America during the witchcraft scare, so a bit farther back in American history than the first two books. It probably would make a great American History Club book, but I’m not sure it’s really up Mr. Curiosity’s alley. However, he’s surprised me in the past by enjoying some well-written books that are more about relationships than action. We’ll see. I think I’ll wait a bit, though, until Miss Adventure can read it with us as well.

If I wanted to go classic science fiction book, we could read either Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, about a future America where all books are suspect and therefore burned whenever found, or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, about a society where people are engineered to fit in their place. Both show a scary world that is still completely possible, even though the books were written decades ago. I can still remember bits of Brave New World (which I did read in school) more than 20 years after reading it. Obviously, it made an impression.

I think I want to do a few short stories as well, but that is a topic for another post. Anyone remember a good book they read in middle school? Are your kids reading something good? If so, give me some more suggestions in the comments.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

 

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What I Will Be Reading #28 – Fiction edition

I’ve got a few more books to add to my reading list. Mr. Curiosity has also expressed a desire to read more “literature” this year, so I’m on the lookout for some good reads for an eighth grader. This list won’t provide much for him, but will add several books to my reading list.

The first post that caught my eye was Five Gateway Books, published on Tor. The premise is providing a book that pulls you into a whole genre. I’ve read the gateway books for middle-grade, young adult, and dino-science fiction (although I’m going to suggest Mr. Curiosity read Jurassic Park), and I have the thriller/mystery series already on my list. The only book I’m missing is the post-apocalyptic gateway book, The Girl With All the Gifts. I really don’t need to be encouraged to post-apocalyptic books, but if this one is good enough to suck you into a whole genre, it’s worth checking out.

The next couple of books all fall into a single category – books about books. This is one of my favorite literary subgenres, and I have yet to read one I didn’t like (see my reviews of The Little Paris Bookshop or The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for examples). The list comes from Off the Shelf and provides 11 books set in bookstores. Again, I’ve read several and have several others already on my reading list (maybe it’s a sign to move them up higher on my mental list of what to read next). The ones that newly caught my eye included The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (which looks to be a nonfiction entry into this genre), and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which I may have sitting on my bookshelf, and would give me the elusive X, Y, or Z author in my reading challenge. Check out the original post to see descriptions of each book and the full list.

And those are the new books I’m adding to my reading list. Anything else I should put on there?

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Summer Reading Suggestions – Thrillers

It’s summer, which usually means a bit more free time and a chance to catch up on your reading. If you don’t have a reading list, I’ve got a couple of suggestions that might strike your fancy as you’re headed to the beach or the backyard. I would consider all of these books to be thrillers, so they’ll keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon page to buy the book (and thanks for supporting my blog!). If you click on the title, you’ll be taken to my original review of the book.

If you’re looking for something new, try Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. This is a current best-seller, so you’ll definitely be in the cool crowd if anyone catches you reading this book. The story starts out with a disaster (a plane crash, so perhaps something to read once you get to your location, not on the plane trip there), and you slowly find out details about the passengers on the private jet and potential reasons the plane went down.

Prefer your thriller with a post-apocalyptic flair? You might want to try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. If you played video games or D&D as a kid in the 80s, this book is definitely for you. The world isn’t a great place so most people spend a lot of time in the virtual world of OASIS. The creator hid an egg in the world that will grant the finder control of OASIS. We follow a brilliant but poor searcher as he tries to find the egg before the evil corporation hoping to monetize OASIS find the egg.

My next suggestion, Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez, is more of a techno-thriller. It’s set in a plausible near future where an unnamed organization has taken research on ant swarms to create lethal, autonomous swarms of drones. The scientist in charge of the ant research joins a special forces agent to stop the drones. This book had me seriously questioning my online activities (once again) and wondering if I need to add another level of security to my online presence.

And finally, a psychological thriller: Just One Look by Harlan Coben. This book is based around the disappearance of Jack and the search for him by his wife, Grace. Jack has some secrets he’s been hiding, and the thread of his and Grace’s life unravels as Grace tries to find Jack. All the pieces come together by the end, so you want to pay attention while you’re reading (no matter how fast you want to skim).

Hopefully one of these will strike your fancy if you’re looking for a page-turner to read. Any other thrillers you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

 

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