- A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot
- Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
- Survival of the Sickest – Dr. Sharon Moalem
- The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
- A Civil Action – Jonathan Harr
I simply can’t remember a time when books weren’t a part of my life. My parents read books to me for hours at a time, and my mother says I began reading when I was three. Of course, that could be a little motherly exaggeration. In any case, I remember trips to the library on a regular basis and finishing class assignments as soon as possible, in order to get back to my stories. Gone With The Wind was the first “adult” book I remember reading – adult because it was the first book I read that contained more than 500 pages. It was summer, I was thirteen, and that book went everywhere with me. I didn’t put it down until I fell asleep. When I finished, I started over. I loved the romanticism and beauty of the South during that time, and Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler are still two of my favorite characters in all of literature.
As a Science teacher, I come across fascinating books related to my field. I have used The Hot Zone, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, A Civil Action and Survival of the Sickest in my classes to enrich the topics in the curriculum. The Hot Zone gives an early account of an outbreak of the Marburg virus (same family as Ebola) in Africa and how close it came to the United States. My interest in epidemiology and tracking the spread of diseases made this book come alive for me. A Civil Action and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks both deal with ethical issues in the fields of medicine and environmental law. A Civil Action is the true story of a cancer cluster in the northeast U.S., and the frustrations of a lawsuit filed against several companies accused of water pollution in the area. It was fascinating (and frustrating) to follow the lead lawyer in this case, his total immersion in the case and how it affected all parties. Unlike most stories, there’s not an “end,” but more of what happens in real life. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of a woman who died of cancer over 50 years ago, but whose cells are still alive and helping millions of people today. It also raises many ethical questions, including “do your cells belong to you or your family if removed in a medical procedure?” Survival of the Sickest considers why we have disease. If, as humans, we are evolving to improve our chances for survival, why do we still succumb to diseases? The book takes the stance that if having one disease keeps you from dying from another disease, it is genetically advantageous. Several examples, including diabetes and sickle cell anemia, are discussed in great detail.
I really love books (and movies) that make me think and that I continue to ponder when I’m done reading. All of these books definitely fit that category.