Staff Pick

Walter Isaacson is known for his bestselling biographies of such brilliant, innovative figures as Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs. And now to this list he’s added Jennifer Doudna. She may not yet have the the same name recognition as the others, but as Isaacson makes clear, her Nobel Prize-winning work on gene editing ranks among the most significant biological inventions. By developing the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR, Doudna dramatically expanded the role science can play in reshaping the nature of life itself. Isaacson, as usual, tells this story vividly, comprehensively, and insightfully, recounting not just the path-breaking science involved but also examining the moral quandaries raised by the revolutionary ability to revise our genetic structure.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982115852
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Simon & Schuster - March 9th, 2021

Staff Pick

Mary Roach is an expert in demystifying taboos and, in Stiff, the first of her seven popular science books, she pulls back the operating room curtain on what happens to our bodies after we die. With chapters covering everything from extremely realistic crash-test dummies to beating-heart cadavers (exactly what it sounds like), this book is a journey through our ingrained discomfort with death and a survey of the practical, emotional, and medical considerations that surround the disposal and preservation of human remains.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393324822
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 17th, 2004

Staff Pick

A planetary scientist, Johnson is passionate about searching for life in unlikely places—whether that means an isolated Australian lake “stippled with halite, a…table salt,” above the cloud line on a Hawaiian volcano—or on Mars. Hopes for life on the red planet have always been high, with early observers mistaking Martian dust for vegetation and even elaborate civic projects. Yet as more sophisticated explorations have exposed these as fictions, actual pictures of that red dust have produced evidence that the conditions to support life really did exist there once. As she traces the challenges, findings, and failures of a string of Surveyors, Rovers, and Explorers, Johnson’s meticulous and lyrical descriptions (the sky on Mars, for instance, isn’t black or blue but butterscotch) convey not only the science but the human quest for meaning that’s driven the work—despite the fact that “half the missions to Mars have failed”; Johnson’s own engagement in this endeavor has been so deep that her first child was due on the same day the Curiosity was scheduled to land on Mars, giving added oomph to her conviction that these missions represent “an almost existential endeavor…to learn what life really is.” 

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101904817
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown - July 7th, 2020