Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman, may be one of the most controversial books of the decade. In a nutshell, Neurotribes is about the “Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity” (as stated on the cover of the book). What is “neurodiversity,” you may ask? Neurodiversity is more than just a word, it’s a paradigm. It stands for the idea that there is a large amount of variation in individual brain function and behavioral traits in the human population, and that this variation is both normal and natural. This concept is often applied to autism and ADHD, which is fundamentally different than the way they are commonly thought of, as a disease. In this way, neurodiversity can be a very controversial topic, because by treated autism and ADHD as natural differences between people, it is implied that they don’t need to be cured. As Silberman touches on throughout his book, the implication that autism needn’t be cured, rather accepted, is offensive to many people. If you’d like to learn a little more about what neurodiversity means in the context of autism and ADHD, I’d recommend this article from Psychology today (1).
When first received Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature as a gift from a friend, I had only vague ideas about who Alexander von Humboldt was. As I delved into Wulf’s astonishingly well-researched narrative, I was impressed at every turn by both the author and the subject of the book.
Mary Roach is not a scientist. However, despite (or perhaps because of?) her lack of formal scientific training, Ms. Roach writes about science better than most of the scientists I know. Each of her books looks at the science behind a single topic, digging into vast fields of research and presenting her findings to a general audience. She has a talent for finding peculiar facts, and a stomach of steel when it comes to her research. * Her third book (and my personal favorite), Bonk, is a delight to read.
“There is nothing in the world more perfect than a slide rule,” begins Hope Jahren’s first book. Even if you disagree with that statement, * Lab Girl is a delight to read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about scientific research.