Beach reading should be enjoyable, of course, but that doesn't mean it has to be brainless.
Here are my summer reading picks for the science-minded, plus places to find more ideas:
The Accidental Universe, by Alan Lightman - In this series of seven essays, physicist and writer Dr. Alan Lightman covers astrophysics, metaphysics, and the nature of religion and science. It's weighty material, but Lightman manages it with a light and personal touch, making for a very enjoyable read.
Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, by Neil Shubin - This book from 2009 was made into a three part television series that aired earlier this year. Both in writing an on-screen, evolutionary biologist Dr. Neil Shubin is personable and conveys a child-like excitement about the animals - living and fossilized - that elucidate key evolutionary advances that now combine to make us human.
Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science, by Cristoph Irmscher - Louis Agassiz was among the most celebrated scientific minds of the late 19th century and is unarguably one of the founding fathers of American science. But his views on race and evolution have made him controversial figure. Irmscher tackles head-on the question of what impact Agassiz's personal views should have on his professional legacy in an engaging biography of a fascinating man.
Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury made Me a Mathematical Marvel, by Jason Padgett and Maureen Ann Seaberg - This story is incredible enough to sound like fiction, but it's bona fide medical fact. Eleven years ago, Jason Padgett was mugged and severely beaten. A traumatic brain injury left him with plenty of negative impacts, but also genius-level math skills and a unique view of the world. After reading this, you may wish you could get hit on the head.
The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert - The author of the hit autobiography Eat, Pray, Love goes in a totally different direction with this historically-based novel about the life of a female botanist in the Age of Enlightenment. It hits on hot-button issues of the day, including slavery, sexuality, and evolution, some of which still hit a nerve today.
Let us know what you're reading this summer!