2020 Summer reading list (science and engineering staff picks)

June 22, 2020
Alexandra Krogman


It's summer time, there's a pandemic, and we are social distancing. Has there ever been a better time to fall into the pages of a good book? I don't think so! Grab an ice-cold beverage, find a sunny spot (at least six feet away from any other readers), and dive into one of these staff picks from the Li and Ma Science Library and the Terman Engineering Library.




Girl sitting cross-legged with her eyes closed. A city scape of concrete walls and buildings is behind her. The girl and the city are encircled by jungle plants, with creatures peering out among the leaves and branches.Brown Girl in the Ring


by Nalo Hopkinson

"Magical. Stirring. Caribbean folklore meets speculative fiction. The wealthy have fled Toronto for the suburbs, leaving behind an isolated city. New mom, Ti-Jeanne turns to spiritualism to defend herself and her family from being preyed on in the city."

Alexandra Krogman, Engineering Librarian, Digital Services and Projects

Borrow the book 

A side profile of a person formed by a cloudy galaxy. Stars are scattered around the galaxy.Life on Mars


by Tracy K. Smith

"Tracy K. Smith’s poetic voice is exquisite in her Pulitzer Prize winner, Life on Mars. With eloquence, Smith explores the universe, space, and sci-fi in this beautiful elegy to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope."

Amy Clark, Library Specialist, Terman Engineering Library

Borrow the book

Out of the Silent PlanetOut of the Silent Planet 

Book one of The Space Trilogy

by C.S. Lewis

"For something a bit different, with inspiration from H.G. Wells and Tolkien, C.S. Lewis published a science fiction series named The Space Trilogy before many of his famous works. Out of the Silent Planet is the first, shortest, and easiest book."

Zac Painter, Engineering Librarian, Research and Teaching Support

Borrow the book

Black silhouette of woman, turned to the side. Wearing a red and orange patterned head wrap and dress.Parable of the Sower 

Earthseed #1

by Octavia E. Butler

"First in a two book series. Stark, grim, honest, yet propelled by hope. Its ideas around change take hold and linger: Change is inevitable - and perpetual. It shapes us, but, importantly, we too shape it."

Rebecca Wedl, Library Specialist, Li and Ma Science Library

Borrow the book 

Little girl, with two small horns growing from her forehead, with her finger up her nostril.Saga

Comic series

by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples

"An epic comic series set in space. Beautifully illustrated and imaginative, but definitely not suitable for all ages. Follows a small family of would-be enemies brought together by an unexpected baby."

Alexandra Krogman
(Déjà vu? I'm on here twice. What can I say? We needed a fifth sci-fi book.)

Borrow Volume One






Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies is a Silicon Valley StartupBad Blood

Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

by John Carreyrou

"It is really incomprehensible how a college drop-out convinced high profile, intelligent people, to believe her lies, deceived investors, and made herself a billionaire. Got goosebumps all over when I read this book."

Aparna Sharma, Operations Manager, Li and Ma Science Library

Borrow the eBook

Radium GirlsRadium Girls

The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

by Kate Moore

"The 1920s were all a glow, with radium painted lips that is. If you like scandal this book has it. In a literal fight to the death for employee rights, the Radium Girls were key players in the development of health, physics, and labor safety standards."

Cristina Flores-Herrera, Evening Supervisor, Li and Ma Science Library

Borrow an older edition

Bust of side profile, looking to the right. The right half is of a white man and the left half is of a black man.Superior

The Return of Race Science

by Angela Saini

"Superior examines the disturbing and enduring belief in biological racial differences that impacts research and scientific advancement."

Popular Science Book Club

Borrow the eBook


Outline of a skull made up of the graphic elements you would see in data tables and visualizations.Weapons of Math Destruction

How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

by Cathy O'Neil

"Weapons of Math Destruction exposes abuse of aggregated data amassed from nefariously designed algorithms. Terrific writing, real life examples, including the bad data behind Broken Windows Policing. Cathy O'Neil is authority on the subject."

Leah Strauss, Library Specialist, Terman Engineering Library

Borrow the book

The World Without UsThe World Without Us

by Alan Weisman

"What would happen to Earth if humans suddenly disappeared?  More speculative than depressing, this book presents scenarios from all over the world. Plants taking over cities is obvious, but what if we stopped pumping water out of New York subways."

Linnea Shieh, Engineering Librarian, Data and Collections 

Borrow the book