#5 On My TBR – Science

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week we focus on science titles. As a woman in the sciences I was super excited to see this topic. But I wanted to choose titles that I thought would appeal to a broader audience. The following books focus on why we get sick, the power of algorithms, geneology, racism and identity.

For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – The Disorded Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dreams Deferred

From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science.

In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.

One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions.

Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to tap into humanity’s wealth of knowledge about the wonders of the universe.


#2 – DNA USA: A Genetic Portrait of America

The best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve now turns his sights on the United States, one of the most genetically variegated countries in the world. From the blue-blooded pockets of old-WASP New England to the vast tribal lands of the Navajo, Bryan Sykes takes us on a historical genetic tour, interviewing genealogists, geneticists, anthropologists, and everyday Americans with compelling ancestral stories. His findings suggest:

• Of Americans whose ancestors came as slaves, virtually all have some European DNA.

• Racial intermixing appears least common among descendants of early New England colonists.

• There is clear evidence of Jewish genes among descendants of southwestern Spanish Catholics.

• Among white Americans, evidence of African DNA is most common in the South.

• European genes appeared among Native Americans as early as ten thousand years ago.

An unprecedented look into America’s genetic mosaic and an impressive contribution to how we perceive race, this is a fascinating book about what it means to be American.


#3 – Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

Was diabetes evolution’s response to the last Ice Age? Did a deadly genetic disease help our ancestors survive the bubonic plagues of Europe? Will a visit to the tanning salon help lower your cholesterol? Why do we age? Why are some people immune to HIV? Can your genes be turned on — or off?

Dr. Sharon Moalem turns our current understanding of illness on its head and challenges us to fundamentally change the way we think about our bodies, our health, and our relationship to just about every other living thing on earth, from plants and animals to insects and bacteria.

Through a fresh and engaging examination of our evolutionary history, Dr. Moalem reveals how many of the conditions that are diseases today actually gave our ancestors a leg up in the survival sweepstakes. When the option is a long life with a disease or a short one without it, evolution opts for disease almost every time.

Everything from the climate our ancestors lived in to the crops they planted and ate to their beverage of choice can be seen in our genetic inheritance. But Survival of the Sickest doesn’t stop there. It goes on to demonstrate just how little modern medicine really understands about human health, and offers a new way of thinking that can help all of us live longer, healthier lives.


#4 – Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives–where we go to school, whether we can get a job or a loan, how much we pay for health insurance–are being made not by humans, but by machines. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules.


But as mathematician and data scientist Cathy O’Neil reveals, the mathematical models being used today are unregulated and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination–propping up the lucky, punishing the downtrodden, and undermining our democracy in the process.


#5 – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is populated by a cast as strange as that of the most fantastic fiction. The subject of this strange and wonderful book is what happens when things go wrong with parts of the brain most of us don’t know exist . . . Dr Sacks shows the awesome powers of our mind and just how delicately balanced they have to be’ Sunday Times ‘Who is this book for? Who is it not for? It is for everybody who has felt from time to time that certain twinge of self-identity and sensed how easily, at any moment, one might lose it’ The Times ‘This is, in the best sense, a serious book. It is, indeed, a wonderful book, by which I mean not only that it is excellent (which it is) but also that it is full of wonder, wonders and wondering. He brings to these often unhappy people understanding, sympathy and respect. Sacks is always learning from his patients, marvelling at them, widening his own understanding and ours.

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