Gifts of Fiction for the Scientist

Until a candid math professor in college advised me to "consider possible talents in other areas," I had every intention of becoming an engineer. (Fortunately, I knew how to type.) Maybe you know someone who straddles the arts/sciences border, someone who would enjoy a literary novel that involves scientists or scientific themes. Here's a list of such books I read this year:


Susan Choi's A Person of Interest. When a paranoid mathematician suspects he might be accused of being the Unibomber, he responds by acting like a very guilty man.

Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else is a whimsical love story about one of the world's most remarkable inventors, Nikola Tesla.

Lydia Millet's How the Dead Dream is a dark, poetic novel about environmental destruction. The hero is a wildly successful real estate developer who realizes -- late -- what he's done to the world.

Darin Strauss's More Than It Hurts You is a frightening, surprising, weirdly witty novel about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (mothers who sicken their own children to enjoy medical attention and sympathy).

Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances tells the mind-bending story of a psychiatrist who believes his wife has been replaced by an exact replica.

(For more recommendations of good reading, check out Book World's picks for the best of 2008.)

By Ron Charles |  December 10, 2008; 7:00 AM ET Fiction , Ron Charles
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Instead of the Galchen book which was disappointing, I'd recommend Richard Powers' book that features a Capgrass syndrome hero. Called the Echo Maker. Most of his other books are suitable for scientists, especially cognitive scientists, as well. Not to mention David Lodge's Thinks...

Posted by: jweissmn | December 12, 2008 9:38 AM

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