Winter Reading List: five books written by Society for Science alumni take on our connections to the world and one another - Society for Science Skip to content

Winter Reading List: five books written by Society for Science alumni take on our connections to the world and one another

By Lucy Curtis

Covers for the five books described in the article.
Cozy up with one of these fascinating reads this winter!

There’s nothing better in the cold months of winter than curling up with a good book. As temperatures drop, consider picking up one of these five books written by a Society for Science alum. Covering a wide range of topics and taking on profound and meaningful questions, these books offer a chance to expand your understanding of the world around you without having to leave the warmth of your couch!

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else by Jordan Ellenberg

(STS 1989, ISEF 1987, 1989)

Jordan Ellenberg’s latest book uses geometry to tackle many of the questions we ask of others, ourselves and the world around us. Analyzing everything from how politicians are elected to what kids should focus on in school, Ellenberg takes geometry from shapes in a classroom to an engaging framework through which to view and understand the world around us. He delves into why using geometry as a framework can help us unlock the answers to some of life’s biggest questions.

Purchase here through Penguin Random House.

People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health by Susan Landau

(STS 1972)

Reflecting on the technology of contact tracing that came out of the COVID-19 -pandemic, cybersecurity expert Susan Landau looks at how this technology can best be used to protect public health while considering questions of efficacy, equity and privacy. Throughout her book Susan explores the effectiveness of a range of technological interventions seen in different regions during COVID-19. She lays out some key questions which need to be addressed to create a contact tracing strategy capable of keeping us safe during the next pandemic.

Purchase here through MIT Press.

Gods of the Upper Air by Charles King

(STS 1986; ISEF 1984-1985)

Award-winning historian Charles King has written a “dazzling” account of the pioneering scientists who are responsible for shaping the field of cultural anthropology. Charles’ book chronicles the work of Columbia University Professor Franz Boas and his influential students who challenged hegemonic and outdated views on culture, establishing a framework for understanding and appreciation of  our multicultural world. Among his students were Margaret Mead, Ella Deloria and Zora Neale Hurston —they helped shape the field of cultural anthropology by mapping civilizations throughout history with an eye towards what unites humanity.

Purchase here through

The Age of Scientific Wellness by Leroy Hood (STS 1956) and Nathan Price

Society for Science alum Leroy Hood was joined by Nathan Price in writing this illuminating book on the near future of healthcare and what it means for all of us. Leroy and Nathan posit that current medical practices don’t reflect the true abilities of medical innovation, and the future of healthcare will be found in highly personalized precision healthcare they call “scientific wellness.” This strategy would use new technologies to unlock the secrets of our genetic code and revolutionize preventative care.

Purchase here through Harvard University Press.

The Plant Hunter by Cassandra Quave

(ISEF 1994-1996)

Leading medical ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave’s research has taken her to some of the most remote corners of our world in search of natural compounds, traditional healing techniques and more which could help us prepare for the existential threat of untreatable superbugs. Cassandra’s book combines science, botany and memoir to take us with her on a journey in search of answers which could just save us all.

Purchase here through Penguin Random House.

Lucy Curtis