There is a difference between science books and books about science, and it has taken me about 25 years to realize the value of reading about how science happens. Many of the qualities that a good scientist possesses are not easily described except through the stories about scientific discoveries. But perhaps more importantly, I find that the stories about science reveal something about the human spirit and our ability to seek meaning and find fulfillment in our work. Furthermore, when the stories are well told, they have an artistic quality that conveys the beauty and eloquence of knowledge.

Here are a few of the books that I have found to be profoundly worthwhile.

If you enjoy this type of reading, one way to find more books about science is to ask the librarians about good science authors like John Emsley or Peter Ball.

It is also possible to use a SUBJECT search in the library catalog. SUBJECT terms are a controlled vocabulary, so often the same terms are used in various contexts and will lead you to similar types of books that deal with different subjects. For example, using the search term “popular works” will get you books about Chemistry, Phosphorous, and Analytical Chemistry. Below are some SUBJECT search terms to get you started.

Chemistry--Popular works Science--History Feminism and science
Physics--History Genetics--History Women in science
Geology--History Cosmology--History Women in technology
Biology--History Chemists--Biography Franklin, Rosalind
Science--England Physicists--Biography Women scientists
Mathematics--History Mathematicians--Biography Women chemists
Alchemy--History Scientists Women in chemistry
Evolution--History Mechain, Pierre Sacks, Oliver
Chemistry--History Nightengale, Florence Eiseley, Loren
Arc measures--History Biochemists Mercator, Gerhard
Pasteur, Louis Science--Social aspects. Humboldt, Alexander von
Chemists Meter (unit)--History Nurses--Biography
Lavoisier, Antoine Phosphorus--Popular works Neurologists--England--Biography
Biologists--United States--Biography Chemistry, Analytic--Popular works  
Physicians--United States--Biography Physicists--United States--Biography Chemicals--Manufacture and industry