SciFri Book List

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Nonfiction

Krakatoa : the day the world exploded, August 27, 1883

Simon Winchester
2003
ISBN: 9780066212852

Considers the global impact of the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, documenting its cause of an immense tsunami that killed 40,000 people, its impact on the weather for several years, and its role in anti-Western Islamic fundamentalism.

Smoke gets in your eyes : and other lessons from the crematory

Caitlin Doughty
2014
ISBN: 9780393240238

The blogger behind the popular Web series Ask a Mortician describes her experiences working at a crematory, including how she sometimes got ashes on her clothes and how she cared for bodies of all shapes and sizes.

The future of life

Edward O. Wilson
2002
ISBN: 9780679450788

One of the world’s most important scientists, Edward O. Wilson is also an abundantly talented writer who has twice won the Pulitzer Prize. In this, his most personal and timely book to date, he assesses the precarious state of our environment, examining the mass extinctions occurring in our time and the natural treasures we are about to lose forever. Yet, rather than eschewing doomsday prophesies, he spells out a specific plan to save our world while there is still time. His vision is a hopeful one, as economically sound as it is environmentally necessary. Eloquent, practical and wise, this book should be read and studied by anyone concerned with the fate of the natural world.

The disappearing spoon : and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements

Sam Kean
2010
ISBN: 9780316051644

The periodic table of the elements is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, obsession, and betrayal. These tales follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and all the elements in the table as they play out their parts in human history. The usual suspects are here, like Marie Curie (and her radioactive journey to the discovery of polonium and radium) and William Shockley (who is credited, not exactly justly, with the discovery of the silicon transistor)--but the more obscure characters provide some of the best stories, like Paul Emile François Lecoq de Boisbaudran, whose discovery of gallium, a metal with a low melting point, gives this book its title: a spoon made of gallium will melt in a cup of tea.--From publisher description.

Fiction

The long way to a small, angry planet

Becky Chambers
2016
ISBN: 9780062444134

"When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possible want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy and some distance from her past. And nothing could be further from what she's known than the crew of the Wayfarer."--Page [4] of cover.

Parable of the sower

Octavia E. Butler
2019
ISBN: 9781538732182

In 2025 California, an eighteen-year-old African American woman, suffering from a hereditary trait that causes her to feel others' pain as well as her own, flees northward from her small community and its desperate savages.

Sand

by Hugh Howey
2014
ISBN: 9781494904487

In post-apocalyptic Colorado, a state now covered in sand, one family struggles to survive and stay united after the father leaves. Wife and mother, Rose, has only a whore house and as her income dwindles, she finds she must work in the establishment she runs. Her children, Palmer, Victoria, Rob and Conner, all take on the dangerous job of being sand divers, hoping to help their mother with expenses.

Afterland

Lauren Beukes
2020
ISBN: 9780316267830

"Three years after a plague has wiped out the male population, twelve-year-old Miles is one of the last boys alive, and his mother, Cole, will protect him at all costs. On the run after a horrific act of violence, and pursued by Cole's own ruthless sister, Billie - all Cole wants is to raise her kid somewhere he won't be preyed on as a reproductive resource or a sex object or a stand-in son. Someplace like home."--Publisher description.