Summer Reading

By Jean Farrington

To me, the ideal vacation is to be in a warm clime in shorts and a top with a stack of books by my side.

In a previous life, I was invited each year to submit the 10 best books I’d read that year plus my plans for summer reading for an article in the Swarthmorean. Coming up with the titles on my “to be read’ list was always the easier part of the assignment.

And so, I’m offering here five science titles waiting on my shelves for this summer. Perhaps one or more will whet your appetite.  None should be too onerous for the season.

The Wild Trees:  A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston.  2007.

An account of the botanists and amateur naturalists who scale the redwoods and explore the forest canopy in our own Northern California woods.

The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks.  2010.

How do individuals cope without sight or with the inability to remember faces?  Sacks documents how people adapt to these and other sensory disorders and explores his own facial challenges.

Seeds: One Man’s Serendipitous Journey to Find Trees that Inspired Famous American Writers from Faulkner to Kerouac, Welty to Wharton by Richard Horan.  2011.

Combining literature with nature, Horan visits the homes of famous writers and investigates the trees that made up their world.  Given that Horan is based in upstate New York (the true upstate from one who knows and grew up in the Finger Lakes region), his travels focus on the east coast, particularly that state plus New England and the Mid Atlantic.

This is Your Brain on Music:  The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel Levitin.  2006.

A neuroscientist and psychology professor, Levitin had an earlier career in the world of rock music.  Here he delineates how we listen to music, why it’s meaningful to us, and what its impact is on our brains.

The Nature Principle:  Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv.  2011.

Hailed for his groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv now tackles and makes the case for a connection to nature for all adults and how to make that happen in our electronic age.

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