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I just finished reading the wonderful new book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.  It is about the supersized contributions of a little known woman to science, it is about a family, it’s about a journalist.

Skloot’s years and years spent researching this book, from her tireless attempts to sway the Lacks family to talk with her, to her endless patience in gaining their trust, has given her a uniquely personal perspective on this story.  While she first heard of Henrietta Lacks, the woman who is HeLa cells, in a college course, she has over the years integrated herself into the story of the Lacks family.  When it came to finally writing this story she decided to do so from a first person perspective, interweaving information about the Lacks family, Henrietta, and the science made possible by HeLa cells, with her own narrative of researching this book. Read the rest of this entry »


In no particular order, here are some wonderfully written, fun, diverse books written by people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. I’ve read quite a few of them, and plan on reading others:

lookmeintheeyeLook Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison. This is a funny, poignant account of Robison’s experiences growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Interestly, he is the older brother of the wildly successful author of Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs, who does not have Asperger’s. It’s fascinating to read about both brothers’ completely different and varied experiences in and perception of the same family. I’ve heard Robison speak, and he is a very animated speaker and passionate advocate for those like himself with Asperger’s syndrome. Visit Robison’s blog or website.





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Don't Be Such a ScientistI’m eagerly anticipating my copy of Don’t Be Such a Scientist: Talking Substance in an Age of Style by Randy Olson as soon as my local Borders gets the delivery.   In his former life, Olson was a tenured faculty member in the Department of Zoology at the University of New Hampshire.  Now he works in Hollywood making science movie magic including, Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy, showing at its New York city debut tomorrow, the closing night for the Imagine Science Film Festival.  With chapter titles like, “Don’t Be Such a Poor Storyteller,” and “Don’t Be So Unlikeable,”  it’s bound to charm the scientist in me!  It has received positive reviews from the likes of noted science writer Carl Zimmer on his blog, as well as by talented science blogger PZ Myers on his blog, Pharyngula, but it sounds likely to be controversial.  Olson apparently has a reputation for being a bit of a nag (PZ Myers said it, not me!)  Check back in a week or so to see what I think of the book.  That is, as long as Borders gets it soon.  Here’s a video of Olson talking about the new book:

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