As a stereotypical artsy, nerdy kid, I did not “science” very much at all. As an adult, I’ve found myself looking up books about science for more general audiences to expand my horizons. RuthAnn, a friend of mine, introduced me to Science September. The books I’ve found from Science September have helped me appreciate science in a whole new way.
I’ve listened to so many books since finding my love for science books, so here are a few of my favorites on audio.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Narrated by the Author
In one of my favorite memoirs in the last decade, Hope Jahren describes her experience as a woman scientist and life-long lover of plants. I appreciated hearing her describe her relationship with her lab assistant and best friend. It’s such a beautiful relationship. Plus, she narrates the audiobook herself, giving it such an added personal touch.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Narrated by the Author
Braiding Sweetgrass, another one of my favorites, is an incredible essay collection by botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer. She uses a combination of her inherited knowledge from her Indigenous culture and her background as a botanist to inform the collection. Every essay is unique and brilliant in so many different ways. And her audiobook narration is incredible.
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s scientific background focuses on Black feminist theory. She’s one of fewer than 100 Black women who’ve received a PhD from a department of physics. Prescod-Weinstein points out that science, like other fields, are built on foundations of sexism, racism, and other systems of marginalization. Joniece Abbott-Pratt is a fantastic narrator, and I can’t wait to listen to more of her work.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee, Narrated by Fred Sanders
From early civilization to the present, Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the story of cancer. While most people have experienced cancer themselves or known loved ones with the disease, few of us know the history of one of the world’s most ubiquitous maladies. Fred Sanders narrates the audiobook with a clarity that helps listeners follow along with this sweeping story.
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong, Narrated by Charlie Anson
I’ve never really wanted to know about all of the living microbes in my body, or anyone else’s for that matter. While most people might view microbes (like germs) as something to be eradicated from the planet, Ed Yong has this way of describing the way these tiny organisms play an incredibly important role in nature. Charlie Anson performs the audiobook so well, making this book even more incredibly fascinating than it already is.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin
Henrietta Lacks’ cells possessed the unique ability to regenerate and they have played a huge role in scientific discoveries. But scientists used them for decades without her or her family ever knowing. This book is brilliantly narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin, making this a must-listen for any audiobook lover.
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, Narrated by Anne Twomey
In the history of the Earth, there have been five great extinctions. Kolbert gives listeners an inside look at the scientists currently monitoring the current great extinction. She details species that are already extinct, including the Sumatran rhino, the Panamanian golden frog, and staghorn coral. Anne Twohey narrates the audiobook, striking the perfect balance: keeping listeners’ interest while laying out the facts.