Great science books for high school students: The hive-mind speaks

By Carl Zimmer | March 28, 2011 5:31 pm

Over the weekend, I was contacted by Melissa Townsend, an Arizona high school teacher, with this question:

Getting ready to assign spring reading to my students. What are your favorite non-fiction science books a HS kid can handle?

It’s an excellent question–there are some books that can open up the mind of a teenager, and leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. But when I got Townsend’s request, I was traveling to Washington to talk on a panel about blogging, so I was a bit scatter-brained. I therefore tossed the question out to the hive mind. When I read the responses, many of them made me think, “Yeah, what she said!”

Here is a selection of the answers. Add your own in the comment thread; I can update the list here accordingly.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. (This one was mentioned so often Townsend decided to go with it.)

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

The Diversity of Life, by Edward O. Wilson

Under a Lucky Star, by Roy Chapman Andrews

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, by James Watson

E=mc2: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation, by David Bodanis

A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson

A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons, by Robert Sapolsky

Microbe Hunters, by Paul deKruif

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

The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story, by Richard Preston

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition, by Oliver Sacks

Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, by Oliver Sacks

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way>, by Joy Hakim (follow the link to the other two books in the series, too)

The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist, Richard Feynman

Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry Coyne

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Book Preview, Link Love, Teaching
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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.

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