Introducing the Pop Science Core Collection

A team of Denver Public Library staff have chosen 61 books for our Pop Science Core Collection! We know that science texts can often be intimidating and overly technical, but our Pop Science list is made up of easily accessible non-fiction books that cover a wide variety of science topics, including the history of science and scientists. We wanted this list to have books that would capture the wonder and awe of science but could be read by anyone, whether the reader has a background in science or not. 

While ease of reading was important to us, it was also crucial that these books stand up to academic standards. To ensure that our list was full of reliable and trustworthy information, we looked into each book to discover what kind of research was put into the book, including how much information is included in the back matter and index, what connection and relationship the author has to the text (e.g. are they a scientist or a journalist?), and read reviews of the books in scientific journals to ensure their viability. In the end, you can trust that the books on this list will not only be enjoyable reads, but that they are educational and factual.

So, let’s dive into the list!

Let’s get started with a book about the importance of science. Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy by Robert M. Hazen and James Trefil provides you with the informational basics of science in an engaging and easy to understand way. What this does is give you all the foundational knowledge and facts you need so that you can start asking the right questions.

Or maybe you’d like a more specific scientific rundown, perhaps on physics and the role it plays in our everyday lives? Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski lays out all the small and big ways that physics is at play in our ordinary lives. From fridge magnets to the energy crisis, Storm in a Teacup delves into the mystery and science of the way things work.

How about a classic? Here’s Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Written in 1962, this book has stood the test of time as a petition for the safety and future of our planet. 

Are you looking for a biography? Try Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox, which tells the story of the woman behind the first data and photographs of DNA. While her accomplishments were an unparalleled contribution to the discovery of DNA, she was not cited for the Nobel Prize and written out of the history books. Here, her story is reclaimed and her image as a brilliant scientist reinstated.

Or try an unconventional biography: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee begins with the first documented appearances of cancer thousands of years ago and works its way up to the present day’s efforts to control, modify, and cure this horrific disease. The book reads like a thriller, with cancer as the stealthy enemy. 

These are just a few of the great works included on our Pop Science list. Please check out the whole list for everything from artificial intelligence to animal behavior to health, climate change, and astronomy. Learn more about all of DPL’s Core Collections for adults here.

A guest blog by Erin, DPL Librarian and Pop Science Team co-lead

Written by Becker on September 2, 2020